This haiku just gives me a sense, a feeling that is hard to pin down with words, and I guess that is the point of the haiku, to go where words cannot go. Beauty is falling here, everywhere, in salads and soups, everywhere. Beauty everywhere falling like cherry blossoms. All is One, yet Two. The poet sees the two (or many) yet there is one cherry blossom falling everywhere.
This haiku moves me in two directions, one from a burial field where soldiers lie, the other to my own imperial dreams. Summer grasses…..is just this fact of summer grass the burial ground of my dreams. Summer grasses, just this fact ground one’s imperial dreams, the dreams of conquest of the future.
Summer grasses…are always just now…and now is all that remains of our dreams that pop like bubbles on their sharp blades. All of Basho’s haiku have this contradiction of two frames of references; one to the mind and the other references the present moment of direct experience. Time and dreams lie in rest in the concrete moment of “summer grasses.” Imperial soldiers are our little minds with big ideas, but where are they now, always now. Think of all the dreams of man and all there is left is summer grasses. How still the grass is; how noisy the dreams were.
When I read my morning haiku, I remind myself that this is written by a Zen master whose awareness is not narrow but wide, very wide. His poems are about Just This sound and nothing else. Like Zen paintings, the artist really isn’t there. The observer is the observed. Basho doesn’t say I was awakened at midnight. The separate self is blank. Who is awakened at midnight? All that is here is the sharp sound of a water jar cracking from the swelling ice.
We go through life hearing sounds, tagging them with our knowns, and then moving on. Nothing significant here. Always moving on, the sound doesn’t penetrate our jar of time. We don’t crack open with sound because we are outside of sound as the hearer. We name it and move on. All we hear is the name. But what is the sound before the name? Once we name a sound we name the hearer. Both the hearer and the heard rise together. A great gap forms between.
How slow the water jar cracking sounds in the night. What is the water jar but my own self protected sense of separate self that names and tags everything the body senses. Awakened at midnight, the mind is totally silent. There is no comment about the cracking sound. There is no notice of the cold and the water being spilled and the mess to be cleaned up or the regret for not having protected the jar, or the thought of having no water to wash with, and having to fetch water somewhere else, and the shrug and the return to sleep as if some maid will take care of the jar in the morning. The thinking mind did not awake at midnight.
This penetrating CRACKING broke the spell of the thinking mind that lives amidst its names and forms, this Adam who has already named everything in the Garden….except this sound of the water jar cracking. Adam had never heard this sound before. What is it? He didn’t know. Was the whole cosmos cracking? Was existence freezing and cracking the container I have made for it? I don’t know? And when I don’t know what the sound is, I don’t know who I am…..I am just this sound…awakened at midnight.
How little is the pond? It could be a puddle, yet no matter how small or large the pond, the bright harvest moon is fully there. The whole is in a dew drop or a lake. Every cell has the print of the whole organism. Every animal is the whole species. Every member of the tribe is the whole tribe. Every member of a submarine is the whole crewe.
You are humanity. You are the Cosmos aware of itself. As Jesus said: you and the Father are one. You are the world and the world is you. You can find gold in your back yard. You can find the whole moon in your mind.
Avalokiteshvara, the Buddhist Bodhisattva of Compassion migrated to China and the god with a thousand arms became human Quan Yin and then to Japan as Kannon. Like the Virgin Mary, Kannon resides in the Heart Center where she vibrates with the intense squeezing of sorrow and joy mixed into the elixir of the living beating heart of life itself.
There are two Bodhisattva in Buddhism, Wisdom and Compassion. There are the two winds of the Buddha bird flight. Missing one the bird goes in a circle.