Friday, February 17, 2017

Carpe Diem Namasté, The Spiritual Way #3 spiritual love based on Zen Buddhism


!! Namasté is open for responses for three days !!

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Welcome at a new episode of Carpe Diem Namasté, the spiritual way, the special feature in which we are exploring the spiritual way, the spiritual background, of haiku (and tanka). Today I love to tell you a little bit about the Zen Buddhism background of haiku.

We all know that haiku has roots in Zen-Buddhism. In Zen-Buddhism the only desire possible is to become enlightened ... does that mean that haiku poets may not have desires? I don't know ... but as I look deep inside myself, in my Higher Self, that pure energy which is our guardian in our life ... than as a haiku poet I have just one desire.
The only desire I have, not to become enlightened, but creating that one masterpiece in which I can read, see, feel and reveal the master, my master Basho, that's my only desire. I am aware of that desire and it's my lifelong goal to once create that masterpiece, maybe I have done that already, but I am not aware of it ...

Be aware of your desires ... don't feel ashamed when you discover your desires ... desires and being aware of them makes you human.

silent prayer
reaches for heaven
sunflowers bloom

© Chèvrefeuille

spiritual love based on Zen Buddhism

I discovered haiku in the late Eighties and I was caught immediately by its beauty. I fell in love with haiku, addicted to the beauty of nature, addicted to love. Haiku, however, wasn't my first love ... my first love was classical music especially the music by J.S.Bach. I played the organ and studied all the works of Bach. Through his music I learned to appreciate beauty.
Later I discovered painting and photographing. While I was busy learning to become a better painter and photographer I ran into haiku ... Haiku at that time gave me the opportunity to train my writing skills, to say more with less words.

What has "real love" to do with haiku? Let me tell you something about love in haiku.
As you all know tanka is more the poetry for love, but in my opinion, haiku is also about love. Love in haiku is universal and that means "haiku transcends everything even the love between people. Haiku is love and we can find that idea in the wonderful spiritual roots of haiku, Zen Buddhism.

Zen is love (real love) of the universe. Without this love, joy is uncertain, pain is inevitable, all is meaningless. Othello says:

[...] "When I love thee not, chaos is come again". [...]

The love must be complete, - not that it aims at the universe as a whole, but that the personality as a whole is to be concentrated on the thing; the thing is to be suffused with the personality. Then we have the state, described abstractly by Dr. Suzuki in the following words:

[...] "When an object is picked up, everything else, One and All, comes along with it, not in the way of suggestion, but all-inclusively, in the sense that the object is complete in itself". [...]


lotus flowers
rising from the depths of the pond
everlasting love

everlasting love
like a river flows onwards
uncertain of its goal

uncertain of its goal
rising from the depths of the pond
lotus flowers

© Chèvrefeuille

The relation of love to poetry may be easy to make out, but that to Zen is much more difficult. Look at it like this ... If we are without self-love, greediness, without desire of gain, of happiness, of life itself, all this energy must overflow somewhere. It overflows into all things, including oneself, so that now no actions are selfish or unselfish, good or bad, but are like the sunshine or the rain, but with mind instead of mindlessness. 
We say that we see the beauty of the fine drops of rain, the glittering of the leaves in the sun, the stars in their calm, - but what we really see is the mind of man, our own mind, in all these things. Through our activity and cooperation, these inanimate things acquire mind and affection. The waves drown the shipwrecked sailor regretfully, the sun scorches the weary traveler with remorse.

This kind of love, then, is not the means, the first step, but the end and aim and consummation of our pilgrimage here (on this world). It is expressed in quite other ways than altruism and self-denial. It is effortless and continuous, unconscious and nameless, but we feel it and know it ourselves and others as the health of the soul.

Namasté
Love is the only energy capable to bring peace to the world. The love for the tiniest things in nature are making us the haiku poets we are. We are all lovers of nature and that love is rooted in the Zen Buddhism background of haiku.

shepherd’s purse
trembles in the summer breeze -
bees seek for honey

© Chèvrefeuille

Well .... I hope you did like this new Namasté episode and I hope it will inspire you to create haiku and tanka in which we can find that spiritual love based on Zen Buddhism and our love for nature.

Namasté

This episode is open for your submissions tonight at 10.00 PM (CET) and will remain open until February 20th at 10.00 PM (CET). Have fun. 


Carpe Diem #1157 Sakura, the national pride of Japan


Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

What a joy to visit Japan in all its beauty. We have seen the beauty of Matshushima and the beauty of the diversity of Japanese art, but the most wonderful thing of Japan is their love for Cherry Blossoms. As you all (maybe) know I am a big fan of Cherry Blossoms and I write very often haiku (and tanka) about the Sakura in my backyard. Every year again I submit Cherry Blossom haiku for the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival's "kukai". Sometimes I won and sometimes my haiku got no prizes at all, but that's nothing to be ashamed of, because there are a lot of haiku poets around the globe and ity is just fun to submit haiku for this Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival.


through the branches
of blooming Sakura trees
I see Fuji


© Chèvrefeuille

Today I love to take you on a trip along the beauty of Cherry Blossom, not only through haiku and texts, but also with beautiful images of Japanese Cherry Trees.

Let me first tell you al little bit more about the national pride of Japan ... the Sakura.

They are swooned over during picnics. They are painstakingly painted. They are obsessed over in poems. They are cited as a symbol of the transient nature of life. And they are sprinkled on Starbucks lattes.

Welcome to Japan’s pink and modern world of cherry blossoms. It is impossible to think of springtime Japan without an iconic image of a sea of cherry trees awash with perfect pink blooms instantly coming to mind.
As well as leading the way in robotics, sushi and skyscraper technology, the Japanese have long been celebrated as global leaders in the art of cherry blossom appreciation. From as early as the eighth century, elite imperial courtiers paused to appreciate the delicate pink cherry blossoms known as sakura before indulging in picnics and poetry sessions beneath the blooms. Fast-forward more than a millennium and the flowers that launched a thousand haiku are no less revered in modern-day Japan.

The First Cherry Blossoms appear in Okinawa
Today, as spring approaches, the entire nation turns a shade of pink. Months before they arrive, retailers switch into sakura mode – cue supermarkets filled with plastic cherry blossom flowers and cherry blossom-flavored innovations in convenience stores. The countdown excitement is heightened further by the televised Cherry Blossom Forecast which offers a petal-by-petal analysis of the advance of the blooms – known as the cherry blossom front – as they sweep from the south to the north of the archipelago.
When the blooms actually arrive (as confirmed by teams of meticulous cherry blossom officials), it is time to indulge in one of the nation’s all-time favorite pastimes – hanami, which literally translates as “looking as flowers” and refers to flower appreciation picnics under the blooms.

Every year, a microcosm of society – from salary men and students to housewives and grannies – takes part in hanami picnics (some civilized, some rowdy) in every corner of the country.
The nation’s deep-rooted attachment to cherry blossoms goes far beyond buying a pink fizzy drink at 7-Eleven.
The flowers are deeply symbolic: their short-lived existence taps into a long-held appreciation of the beauty of the fleeting nature of life, as echoed across the nation’s cultural heritage, from tea ceremonies to wabi sabi ceramics. The blossoms also, quite literally, symbolize new beginnings, with April 1 being the first day of both the financial and academic year in Japan.


cherry blossoms
looking so fragile in the moonlight -
ah! the spring breeze

such sadness
the spring wind has molested
cherry blossoms

fading moonlight
caresses the fragile blossoms
finally spring

© Chèvrefeuille

In a nutshell? The cherry blossoms are not just pretty pink flowers: they are the floral embodiment of Japan’s most deep-rooted cultural and philosophical beliefs.

The nation prides itself on its devotion to the important task of forecasting the exact arrival of the first cherry blossoms. Since 1951, teams of meteorologists have been dispatched to monitor the advance of the cherry blossom front – sakura zensen in Japanese – as they burst into bloom across the country.
Officials traditionally observe the pale pink blooms of the yoshino cherry tree – Japan’s most common type – with the season declared open when at least five or six flowers have opened on a sample tree in any given area. 

The flowers only bloom for around a week before the so-called “sakura snow” effect starts and they float sadly off the trees.

The first blossoms generally appear in Okinawa in January and slowly move up the archipelago, passing through Japan’s central islands (including Kyoto and Tokyo) in late March and early April, before progressing further north and hitting Hokkaido in early May.

Cherry Blossom
Of course I cannot leave without a few haiku by the classical masters, for example this one by Issa:

Shinano's deep wooded mountains
even in Fifth Month...
cherry blossoms

© Issa

The part of Japan were Issa lived knows long winters and late springs, so sometimes the cherry blossoms started to bloom in June.

Or what do you think of this one by my master, Matsuo Basho:

how many, many things
they bring to mind — 
cherry blossoms!

© Basho (Tr. Robert Aitken)

[...] "Instilled in the Japanese mind is the association of the ephemerality of the cherry blossoms with the brevity of human life. Blooming for so short a time, and then casting loose in a shower of lovely petals in the early April wind, cherry blossoms symbolize an attitude of nonattachment much admired in Japanese culture." [...] (Source: A Zen Wave,Basho's Haiku & Zen  by Robert Aitken Published by Weatherhill, NY in 1996)

And another one by Buson:

these tired old legs -
is it for them that we stop, 
or the late cherry blossoms?

© Buson

Cherry Blossom Kyoto
And to end this episode with I have another nice haiku master who wrote about the cherry blossoms:

double cherry blossoms
flutter in the wind
one petal after another

© Shiki

And another one by a not so well known classical haiku poet, Onitsura:

the wild cherry:
stones also are singing their songs
in the valley stream

© Onitsura

Of course I can go on with this wonderful episode, but it must be fun to read and therefore I try to make the episodes not that big, but in this case ...

cherry blossom viewing
together with friends and family
celebrating spring

blossom haze -
walking in the middle
of falling petals

Ah! those cherries
have to let go their blossoms -
blossom haze

the cooing of pigeons
between blooming cherry trees -
the cool rain*

* written for the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival 2012, I won a honorable mention.

© Chèvrefeuille
Sakura
And to really conclude this episode I love to share a "twin-tanka" about Cherry Blossom:

departing
cherry blossom petals fall
without sound
cherry blossom petals ride
on gusts of wind

on gusts of wind
cherry blossom petals, full circle,
the taste of cherries
helping me through the cold winter
Sakura blooms again

© Chèvrefeuille

Well ... this episode became a little longer than I had thought, but I hope it will inspire you to create haiku, tanka or other Japanese poetry form. Have fun!

This episode is open for your submissions tonight at 7.00 PM (CET) and will remain open until February 22nd at noon (CET).


Carpe Diem Extra - February 17th 2017 Survey Five Years of Carpe Diem Haiku Kai


Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

As I told you in one of the earlier posts this week I have created a survey to get some insight in what is happening on CDHK and to get an impression of my visitors, our warmhearted community of haiku poets.

This Survey you can find HERE

I appreciate your participation in this survey. It will help me to make Carpe Diem Haiku Kai even better than it already is ... and I hope to get some input from you my dear Haijin, visitors and travelers.

Namasté,

Chèvrefeuille, your host

PS. Question 9 is about the special features you can choose more than one answer. I had forgotten to tell that in this survey.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Carpe Diem #1156 Bonsai, the Japanese Tree-scaping Art


Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

As I told you all earlier I have decided to create one episode of CDHK in every weekend, starting in March, because the lack of time gives me no other choice. I also will change a little in the appearance of CDHK. I am busy to create a new CDHK logo (as shown in the background) which I will use every month again, except in our anniversary month October. And I will cut back the special features, for example Universal Jane will be a bi-weekly feature. Our new feature Namasté will be a bi-weekly feature too, so these both special features will alternate. Than ... our CD Specials created after every kukai, will stay were they are and of course the Tokubetsudesu episode (for the "runner-up") will stay also.
Of course I will have the opportunity to treat you sometimes with one of our other special features here as for example "Imagination"  and "Only the First Line".
Next to these changes I am busy with creating a Five Years of CDHK survey to hear from you. Your opinions, your thoughts and ideas and most of all how do you think about CDHK and do I need to change CDHK.
To give you already something to thing about "I am looking for a way to make it easier for myself, the first thing I thought of was "only an episode of CDHK on weekdays and no longer in the weekend". What do you think of that?

Bonsai the Japanese Art of Tree-scaping
Earlier this week I told you that I would bring a few episodes about Japanese art forms, we have already seen Sumi-e, Ikebana and the Tea Ceremony and today I love to tell you all a little bit more about Bonsai, the Japanese Art of Tree-scaping.

A bonsai is created beginning with a specimen of source material. This may be a cutting, seedling, or small tree of a species suitable for bonsai development. Bonsai can be created from nearly any perennial woody-stemmed tree or shrub species that produces true branches and can be cultivated to remain small through pot confinement with crown and root pruning. Some species are popular as bonsai material because they have characteristics, such as small leaves or needles, that make them appropriate for the compact visual scope of bonsai.

The source specimen is shaped to be relatively small and to meet the aesthetic standards of bonsai. When the candidate bonsai nears its planned final size it is planted in a display pot, usually one designed for bonsai display in one of a few accepted shapes and proportions. From that point forward, its growth is restricted by the pot environment. Throughout the year, the bonsai is shaped to limit growth, redistribute foliar vigor to areas requiring further development, and meet the artist's detailed design.

Bonsai (sumi-e painting) (found on Pinterest)

Bonsai aesthetics are the aesthetic goals characterizing the Japanese tradition of growing an artistically shaped miniature tree in a container. Many Japanese cultural characteristics, in particular the influence of Zen Buddhism and the expression of Wabi-sabi, inform the bonsai tradition in Japan. A number of other cultures around the globe have adopted the Japanese aesthetic approach to bonsai, and, while some variations have begun to appear, most hew closely to the rules and design philosophies of the Japanese tradition.

Over centuries of practice, the Japanese bonsai aesthetic has encoded some important techniques and design guidelines. These design rules can rarely be broken without reducing the impact of the bonsai specimen. One of these techniques, principles is the following:

No trace of the artist: The designer's touch must not be apparent to the viewer. If a branch is removed in shaping the tree, the scar will be concealed. Likewise, wiring should be removed or at least concealed when the bonsai is shown, and must leave no permanent marks on the branch or bark.

In this principle we can find ourselves I think, because isn't that one of the rules or principles of haiku? I think it isn't a great sin to find the poet back in his/her haiku, but in a way it makes the haiku less strong, less beautiful, but ... at the other hand ... haiku is written right from the heart and than we, the poets, are visible or invisible, in our haiku.
"No trace of the artist", is what makes Bonsai and Haiku a strong pair ...

Pine Tree Bonsai
As I saw this beautiful Pine Tree Bonsai I thought immediately at that wonderful place Basho visited while on the road to the Deep North, Matsushima and I ran through my archives to find some beauty to share here with you. I ran into a wonderful cascading haiku, which I have re-done into a "twin-tanka":

anxious to see
the twin pine of the stories
once told
a tale on pine trees
bonsai like

bonsai like
the islands of Matsushima
covered with pines
but the wondrous twin pine
stays invisible

© Chèvrefeuille

Well I hope you did like this episode. You can submit your haiku, tanka or other Japanese poetry form right now until February 21st at noon (CET).


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Carpe Diem #1155 Sumi-e, the Japanese Way of Painting (2)


Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

First this during lack of time I will not publish a new episode of Universal Jane this week, I hope to release a new episode next week. Because of this everlasting problem of time I have decided to create Universal Jane once in two weeks and I have a little change for the weekends. In the weekends I will publish only one episode of Carpe Diem Haiku Kai from now on. In other words I will have six (6) regular prompts a week instead of seven (7). I hope you are okay with that.

Today I love to tell you a little bit more about Sumi-e, the Japanese Way of Painting.

Ink wash painting, also known as literati painting is an East Asian type of brush painting of Chinese origin that uses black ink—the same as used in East Asian calligraphy, in various concentrations. Names used in the cultures concerned include: in Chinese shuǐ mò huà, in Japanese sumi-e or suibokuga , in Korean sumukhwa , and in Vietnamese tranh thủy mặc .
Textual evidence suggests that Shan shui style painting existed during China's Liu Song dynasty of the fifth century. Ink wash painting developed further during the Tang dynasty (618–907). The 8th-century poet/painter Wang Wei is generally credited as the painter who applied color to existing ink wash paintings. The art was further developed into a more polished style during the Song Dynasty (960–1279).

Asian aesthetic writing is generally consistent in stating the goal of ink and wash painting is not simply to reproduce the appearance of the subject, but to capture its spirit. To paint a horse, the ink wash painting artist must understand its temperament better than its muscles and bones. To paint a flower, there is no need to perfectly match its petals and colors, but it is essential to convey its liveliness and fragrance. East Asian ink wash painting may be regarded as a form of expressionistic art that captures the unseen.
Pine Trees (Sumi-e painting)
In landscape painting the scenes depicted are typically imaginary, or very loose adaptations of actual views. Mountain landscapes are by far the most common, often evoking particular areas traditionally famous for their beauty, from which the artist may have been very distant. Water is very often included.
"The painter ... put upon the paper the fewest possible lines and tones; just enough to cause form, texture and effect to be felt. Every brush-touch must be full-charged with meaning, and useless detail eliminated. Put together all the good points in such a method, and you have the qualities of the highest art".
Arthur Wesley Dow (1857–1922)
As I read the above again than I realize that sumi-e and haiku are almost similar with each other. Why? Well both art forms are representing an impression from a scene. Sumi-e  through the paintwash and haiku through the pencil of the poet. Both art forms make use of the moment as short as the sound of a pebble thrown into water. Maybe we can say "sumi-e is haiku in paint" and "haiku is sumi-e in words".
I have tried to paint with words ...:
one summer day
poppies coloring the meadows -
raindrops start to fall
© Chèvrefeuille
This episode is open for your submissions tonight at 7.00 PM (CET) and will remain open until February 20th at noon (CET).