Saturday, April 18, 2015

Carpe Diem #709, God Realisation

“A lot of us are looking for fathers. Many fathers were physically not there, and in fact most people’s fathers are not there mentally and physically, like always at the office or busy with other things. Many leaders are substitute fathers, whether they be religious or political. . . . All this bit about electing a President. We pick our own daddy out of a dog pound of daddies. The dog pound of daddies, which is the political arena, gives us a President, then we put him on a platform and start punishing him and screaming at him because Daddy can’t do miracles. Daddy doesn’t heal us.”

Somebody famous said that, and I like it a lot, for it gives pause for thought. But he said more:

“Maharishi was a father figure, Elvis Presley might have been a father figure. I don’t know. Robert Mitchum. Any male image is a father figure. There’s nothing wrong with it until you give them the right to give you sort of a recipe for your life. What happens is somebody comes along with a good piece of truth. Instead of the truth being looked at, the person who brought it is looked at. The messenger is worshipped, instead of the message. So there would be Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Confucianism, Marxism, Maoism — everything — it is always about a person and never about what he says.”

That someone was John Lennon, and those words of his certainly seem to resonate — as does his song on today’s prompt:

The focus of many religions is on getting those who do not believe in God to believe in God. Belief in God is the beginning and the end of the process. Once you believe in God, there is nothing more to do. However, in Hinduism belief is only the first step. Hindus want to move beyond just believing in God to experiencing God for themselves.

Anandamayi Ma stated the goal of God Realisation as that: “Man is a human being only so much as he aspires to Self Realisation. This is what human birth is meant for. To realize the One is the supreme duty of every human being.” 

This experience is called God Realisation or Self Realisation. Hinduism distinguises between self with a small s, which is the ego, and Self with a capital S, which is the soul. In Hinduism, the first step toward realizing the Self is claiming one’s identity as a spiritual being, a divine soul. The next step is realizing the soul’s essence, which at the deepest level is also God’s essence, so in experiencing our inmost nature we also experience God.

Besides God, religion is also concerned about evil. Again, Hinduism looks at evil as internal to man, not external. Evil relates to man’s instinctive nature, which is capable of wrong actions based in anger and violence. We can say that man’s nature is three-fold: instinctive, intellectual and spiritual. The goal is to subdue the instincts, direct the intellect, harness the ego and manifest the spiritual nature.
Should a haiku be about the artist who wrote it, or be about the nature or happening s/he write about? Our society is self-obsessed enough as it is. Who really wants to read a ‘selfie haiku?’ A painter’s self portrait might be of some interest, but his or her best paintings are of other subjects, unless they are Leonardo da Vinci painting Mona Lisa of course, and thus is it with haiku.

The same can be said of haiku overtly declaring one’s faith. I have read many haiku showing, not declaring faith through wonderful imagery, and without stating the presence of a deity. That is the way to go. And sometimes, beautiful nature is enough...


green many a trees
colourful, beautiful flowers
God's own country

Risha Ahmed (12 yrs)

Kerala - ''God's own country''

I will finish by two haiku originally in Malayalam, the language in Kerala, where all travellers should visit.In 2012, haiku poets who write in Malayalam, organised themselves into a forum called Haiku Association of India (HAI) and published a collection of Malayalam (and English) haiku, named "Kaikkudannayile Kadal" (''sea in the cupped palm''). The 2 haiku that appear here have been selected from this book:

choru pothinja

ila thorannappol
ammayude mannam

I open the leaf
that holds my meal
mother's fragrance

Abhay Jayapalan

ellum poovum
oru urullachorum
achante ormakal

sesame seeds, flowers,
and a ball of rice,
memories of father

Manoj Attingal

Well, we all have our stories to tell. Haiku say so much in 3 lines — when we get it right. Some haiku have brought geat moments of realisation about nature for me, as a reader.

The portals shall open at 7.00 pm Dutch time. I look forward to the haiku.

Carpe Diem Sparkling Stars #22, Basho's "where the hototogisu is singing".

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

A new episode of Sparkling Stars is ahead of us and this week I have chosen to share a haiku by Basho, as a way of preparation for our upcoming month. The haiku which I will share here comes from his world wide known haibun Oku no Hosomichi (The Narrow Road to the Deep North).

here is the context of this beauty, this sparkling star:

From here, I went to see the Death Stone. The Deputy sent me there on horseback, and the man who led the horse asked me for a tanzaku (a strip of thin cardboard, on which a verse is to be written). I was moved with admiration at his request, and composed the following verse ...

no wo yoko ni uma hikimuke yo hototogisu

riding over the summer moor, -
"ah! lead the horse that way!"
where the hototogisu is singing

© Basho (Tr. R.H. Blyth)

The pleasant thing about this is the way in which Basho shows indifference to where he is going, an to everything in fact but the cry of the bird. This is the artist and the poet, far above time and place, enduring all things for that moment when the song of the bird breaks out again.

(By the way the hototogisu is looking very similar to the cuckoo).
(For more information on the Death Stone)

Credits: Death Stone

Isn't it a beauty? In this one I see the master hand of Basho .... he catches the essence of the scene in three lines with perfectly chosen words. Basho was in his time a well known poet and he was invited to a lot of houses of the rich and poor, he had never complains. In this scene described above we also see how a haiku poet gives his poem to others. he/she will never do that without asking. And that's the strength of haiku.

The goal of the Sparkling Stars feature is to try to compose another haiku in the same spirit as the one given following the classical rules, as you can find in the CD-Lecture above or in our Haiku Writing Techniques e-book, chapter 10)

I wasn't inspired enough to compose an all new haiku, but maybe I will come up with something later than I will share it with you.

This CD Sparkling Stars episode is open for your submissions at noon (CET) and will remain open until April 25th at noon (CET). Have fun!

Friday, April 17, 2015

Carpe Diem Time Machine #8, Perfume

It is always impressive how quickly a blind person can read with braille, and how cleverly deaf people can read lips. 

People who have lost the use of one sense often have more acute other senses. But people who lose their sense of smell lose their joy of life. With no smell comes no taste. I am not sure how I would feel stepping out among the trees and not being able to breathe in the forest aromas. I am sure I would not be able to make my pine oil.

There are women who do not wear make-up, and who do not colour their hair. But I do not know any women who do not wear perfume. Fragrance can be stronger than imagery in evoking the senses, and the traditional ingrediants to a natural perfume are remarkably similar to those of a successful haiku.

I have a strong feeling that the best way to write a haiku about perfume is to set it out as a kikôbun. Kikôbun is a literary travel journey entry; a set of notes similar in format to haibun. 

Within the time frame of 24 hours, see if you can compose a kikôbun, a haiku with literary travel notes, that leave a lingering aroma to enhance the feel of the environment. Mine is below as an example.

After the rain the sun steams raindrops off the trees, and the forest perhaps is at its most aromatic. Yesterday, after the rainfall I chose the tiniest, most directionless paths, the ones deer take and hunters sometimes find, so that I was able to lose myself in thought. 

among the birch trees
the perfume of her hair
I slow my pace

I also found a nice haiku (below) to put some notes to and make a kikôbun. Yes…it’s by a haiku poet called…Chèvrefeuille

Summer nights in Aberdeen, northern Scotland, were wonderfully long, and colourful. Walking along the lane up from the harbour, past 11.00 pm, the sun would still be casting its radiant glow over a street lined with yellow roses — my native Aberdeen is famous for its roses, and their light, intoxicating aroma in the air. I was suddenly reminded of those memories today.

sitting in the garden
the sweet smell of roses
 — the cry of seagulls

© Chèvrefeuille

Please try a short kikôbun on the theme of ‘Perfume.’ The link is ready for you at 7.00 pm Dutch time and will be open for just 48 hours.

Carpe Diem Tan Renga Challenge #81, Yozakura's "feeling alone"

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

It's Friday again and however my free weekend I have a Tan Renga Challenge for you all. Hamish Managua Gunn will be your host at CDHK this weekend for the regular posts. Today he hosts the 'wisdom' episode and I am grateful for that. Thank you Hamish for stepping in.

Ok back to our Tan Renga Challenge of today. Maybe you remember Yozakura, the unknown haiku-poet who was a disciple of Basho. Last year he appeared in one of our Ghost Writer-posts. Yozakura has composed wonderful haiku and for this Tan Renga Challenge I have chosen a haiku written by him. Maybe you can recall it from the 8th episode of Haiku Writing Techniques (download at the right of your screen, or just to read above in the menu).

feeling alone
lost in the woods around Edo -
just the autumn wind

© Yozakura

Did I say to much? It's a beauty and I think it can become a wonderful Tan Renga. How to make it into a Tan Renga? Write a second two lined stanza to it by associating on images in the haiku by Yozakura. The second stanza counts 7-7 syllables, but you don't need to use it, but feel free if you want to.

Here is my attempt to make the Tan Renga complete:

feeling alone
in the woods around Edo -
just the autumn wind
colorful leaves dancing
through the abondend city

Awesome don't you think? With this second stanza I have made the 'feeling alone' so much stronger, but i also brought in some ... how shall i say this? Brought in joy, the dancing leaves. Loneliness can be a joy sometimes. If you have a busy life than it can be great to feel alone just you and the world around you.
This is what I feel as I can sit back and let the hosting of CDHK to one of our haiku kai family members. It brings me a kind of relief ... and I need that ...

This Tan Renga Challenge is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until next Friday April 24th at noon (CET). Have fun!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Carpe Diem #708, Wisdom

While Kristjaan takes the rest of the warrior, I shall vainly strive for something close to his flow and humanity, though am already confident in my failing…so bear with me, from my forest, and continue to flower! 

The prompt today is Wisdom. For those of us who live in the Western world, wisdom is seen as elitist, found in the works of Greek scholars or the Bible, and at a pinch some inaccessible classical literature. The past is seen as something better glossed over, to be improved on, riddled with mistakes that we eliminate through technology. This is not the case with societies such as India and China, where the past is very much alive and constantly present, seen in India in customs and tradition, with the Sanskrit epics Ramayana and Mahabharata appearing at least 1,000 years before the birth of Christ now still very much part of children’s culture in the playground and on television.

Wisdom is the topic of the pertinent question Arjuna asks Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita:

Arjuna: Tell me of the man who lives in wisdom, Ever aware of the Self, O Krishna; How does he talk, how sit, how move about? 
Sri Krishna: He lives in wisdom Who sees himself in all and all in him …
…He lives free from lust and fear and anger Fettered no more by selfish attachments, He is not elated by good fortune Nor depressed by bad. Such is the seer...
…The disunited mind is far from wise; How can it meditate? How be at peace? When you know no peace, how can you know joy? 

Wisdom, as a haiku prompt, can be a controversial one, as it can push towards grandiose statement, leaning towards telling, rather than showing. Another contentious issue is a potential conflict with the prompt and the notion of Wabi in a haiku — symbolising aesthetic simplicity without ego, intellect, expectations or judgement, which has more than a few echoes of Krishna’s instruction in the Bhagavad Gita. 

However, there is a world of difference between intellect and wisdom: intellect is personal, and wisdom is universal. In the discussion before the battle, Krishna also stresses action for action’s sake without reward to Arjun. Action first, then thought, is also a Confucian dictum; the action(s) of nature, without ‘instruction’

The wisdom of Confucius, who lived around 500 years before Christ, defines Chinese thought. It is not feasible to imagine he had no influence on Basho. Confucius espoused the well-known “Do not do to others what you do not want done to yourself,” perhaps eminently suited to haiku-writing!

Surely, Basho must have thought about some the following wisdom sayings by Confucius as he strolled down the narrow road to the great north, that will serve as inspiration, I hope, for your haiku:

Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.

Life is really simple, but men insist on making it complicated.

Without knowing the force of words, it is impossible to know men.

When nature exceeds culture, we have the rustic. When culture exceeds nature then we have the pedant.

I found a haiku by Scottish writer George Bruce, on Widom, that I quite like:

Books — thousands — on shelves — 
Wisdom of ages.
Folly if not in me

Followed by the closest I can get to Wisdom at this time:

never forget
that the camel never forgets
and all will be well

Good luck with your haiku on Wisdom! In time-honoured fashion the link is open at 7.00 pm.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Carpe Diem #707, Pranayana (breath control)

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

We are busy with exploring the Bhagavad Gita to find (maybe) "peace of mind", which is the leading theme this CDHK month. And today we have another nice prompt I think and I think this prompt is essential for coming to peace with yourself and finding the peace of mind which we are looking for through reading the Bhagavad Gita.

Today our prompt is Pranayana (breath control). I don't know if you are familiar with yoga or meditation or something else to focus your heart and mind, but I think breathing is an important way to find peace of mind.
As I look at myself than there are sometimes nights in which I sleep bad, but as I try to focus my mind and heart on my breathing than I mostly fall a sleep finally. Is that what Pranayana means? Let us look at the Bhagavad Gita and see what is said about this ...

[...] Thus, always keeping the mind balanced, the Yogi, with the mind controlled, attains to the peace abiding in Me, which culminates in liberation.
When the perfectly controlled mind rests in the Self only, free from longing for the objects of desire, then it is said: “He is united.”
As a lamp placed in a windless spot does not flicker—to such is compared the Yogi of controlled mind, practicing Yoga in the Self (or absorbed in the Yoga of the Self).
Little by little let him attain to quietude by the intellect held firmly; having made the mind establish itself in the Self, let him not think of anything.
From whatever cause the restless, unsteady mind wanders away, from that let him restrain it and bring it under the control of the Self alone.
Supreme bliss verily comes to this Yogi whose mind is quite peaceful, whose passion is quieted, who has become Brahman, and who is free from sin.
With the mind harmonized by Yoga he sees the Self abiding in all beings and all beings in the Self; he sees the same everywhere.
He who, full of faith and with his inner self merged in Me, worships Me, he is deemed by Me to be the most devout. [...]
(Taken from the 6th chapter from the Bhagavad Gita)

In this quote we can read how one can find peace of mind by concentrating, meditating and contemplating by breath control. In this quote we also can read an idea which we can find in several other religions and philosophies "only the just, free from sin, will enter Atnan", is what it saids. This is very similar to the Christian and Muslim ideas. Again we see a connection with the idea, hypothetically seen, that Christianity and Islam have derived from Hinduism, the oldest know religion. Can it be real? I don't know, but what I know is that I have taken this Pranayana with me as I started meditating a long time ago. And it has brought me joy and peace and happiness ...

with faithfulness
monks resonating their mantra
for the Boddhisatva

to the doctrine of emptiness
the monks keep silent

© Chèvrefeuille

These haiku are more related to Buddhism than to Hinduism, but these religions have a lot in common, so I thought I could use these haiku for this episode.

This episode is open for your submissions tonight at 7.00 PM (CET) and will remain open until April 18th at noon (CET). I will try to post our next episode, wisdom, later on.
PS. I can't give my word that I will be on time tomorrow, because than I will be busy with our first Kukai contest.

Introduction to our upcoming month May 2015 "On the Trail with Basho".

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Basho (1644-1694) was a traveling poet, as was e.g. Santoka Taneda (1882-1940) or was Saigyo (1118-1190), Basho's great role-model. Basho modeled his life and poetry, in many ways, on Saigyo. Basho's poems (haiku) often contain references either to a poem Saigyo wrote on one of his journeys or to Saigyo's memorial home, which Basho visited several times.
In of his haibun Basho wrote: "Heels torn, I am the same as Saigyo, and I think of him at the Tenryu ferry. Renting a horse, I conjure up in my mind the sage who became furious. In the beautiful spectacles of the mountain, field, ocean, and coast I see the achievements of the creation. Or I follow the trails left by those who, completely unattached, pursued the Way, or I try to fathom the truth expressed by those with poetic sensibility".

In "Oki no Hosomichi" or "The Narrow Road to the Deep North" Basho is anxious to see a certain willow tree at Ashino on which Saigyo has written a poem:

the clear water of the stream
flows beneath the shade
of a willow by the roadside;
it was long indeed
that I stood there

© Saigyo (from the No-play "The Willow of Yugyo".)

I don't know who the translator was of the above poem (waka) by Saigyo, but as I was preparing this introduction to our upcoming month I ran into a wonderful translation of this same poem by Jane Reichhold, to whom I am so grateful that she gave me the opportunity and the permission to use her haiku for this month on Basho.
Here is her translation, a beauty:

along the way
where water is running
in the willow shade
I have stopped to rest
for a little while

© Saigyo (Tr. Jane Reichhold)

Saigyo's Willow (woodblock print)

As Basho finds this willow on which Saigyo wrote his waka, he writes the following haiku:

one patch of a rice field
when it was planted I left
the willow tree

© Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold)

I found another "version" of this haiku translated into Dutch (my maiden language) by a fellow Dutchman, Aleid C. Swieringa, and I love to share my English translation of that haiku here also:

after the rice planting
the young girls left - and I
left the willow's shadow

© Basho (Translated from a Dutch version)

This Basho-month I hope to share the teachings of Basho. Part of his teaching was this admonishment:

"Go to the pine if you want to learn about the pine, or to the bamboo if you want to learn about the bamboo. Ans in doing so, you must leave your subjective preoccupation with yourself. Otherwise you impose yourself on the object and do not learn. Your poetry issues of its own accord when you and the object have become one, when you have plunged deep enough into the object to see something, like a hidden glimmer there. However well phrased your poetry maybe, if your feeling is not natural - if the object and yourself are separate - then your poetry is not true poetry but merely your subjective counterfeit".

This admonishment is (in my opinion) the heart of Basho's teachings, and I hope to bring it into this month's posts and haiku.

I am looking forward to May 2015 in which we will go "on the trail with Basho" and are starting to become amazed by the beauty of ancient Japan caught in haiku written by Matsuo Basho, one of the greatest haiku poets ever ...

in his footsteps
we will explore the beauty
ancient Japan

© Chèvrefeuille

This was an introduction episode to May 2015 ... be patient ... we have not yet arrived there.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Carpe Diem Ghost Writer #43 and Carpe Diem Special #142, "taking flight" by Kala Ramesh

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

It's my pleasure to bring an all new CDHK episode to you. This is, what I call "a double-post", because I have two episodes to write, but I have chosen to bring them both together in one post. Maybe you can recall that I have decided to bring the CDHK-special-features back through these Ghost Writer posts. So today I love to challenge you to write a haibun based on the haiku which I will share here written by Kala Ramesh.

For this haibun I have a few rules, to make it more challenging:

First, you have to use the haiku by Kala Ramesh and second, your haibun may have a maximum of 150 words (including the haiku). It's not gonna be easy I think, so I give you 24 hours more to respond on this "double" episode.

Here is the haiku which you have to use as an inspiration for your haibun, you may use the given haiku in real, but you also may compose another one in the same sense, tone and spirit as the one by Kala Ramesh.

taking flight -
a butterfly shrugs off
its shadow

© Kala Ramesh

I had a busy day today, so I wasn't inspired enough to share my own haibun inspired on the haiku by Kala, but I hope to share it later.

This episode is open for your submissions tonight at 7.00 PM (CET) and it will remain open until April 18th at noon (CET). I will publish our next episode, pranayana (breath control), later on.

!! By the way: I am behind with commenting, but I will try to catch up a.s.a.p. In the menu above you can find the e-book about the Haiku Writing Techniques and the e-book "For the sake of the moon" (our first anthology) in a just read version. Enjoy reading. I will chance those "just read" e-books on a regular base !!

Carpe Diem Extra #16 - 2015

Dear haijin, visitors and travelers,

As you can see I have changed a few things in the menu underneath the header of our Haiku Kai. I have removed a few pages and have brought in a few new ones.

As you can see I have two e-books placed in the menu. They are available only for reading and I will change those pages on a regular base.

The first Kukai of our Haiku Kai will close tomorrow at midnight (night between 15th and 16th) and than I will start making the list of submitted haiku. Of course there will be no names placed underneath the haiku, because in a Kukai the judging is only based on the haiku and not on the haiku poet.
As I have created the list I will email it to all those who have submitted haiku for the Kukai. To find the winner you may give three (3) haiku a point, 3 points for the haiku you find best, 2 points for a second best haiku and 1 point for third best haiku.

After you have done your judging than email the points (the list) back to our Carpe Diem Haiku Kai email ... write in the subject "judged kukai".

I will count all the points and than I will publish the final list (with names and the won points) at our Haiku Kai. Of course you may not give your own haiku points.

The winner will be granted with the honor that he/she will be our featured haiku poet in June 2015 and he/she will get the opportunity to compile an e-book (maximum of 25 pages, or 50 haiku) of his/her haiku which will be placed for downloading on our Haiku Kai.

Well ... it's almost done our Kukai, you have time until April 15th 23:55 hour to submit your haiku to our email-address:

please write Kukai 2015 in the subject place.


Chèvrefeuille, your host

Monday, April 13, 2015

Carpe Diem #706, Delusion

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Before I start with our new episode, delusion, I first will explain why I have removed 5-7-5 from the Header and replaced it with "short-long-short". As you all know recently I published a few posts about the 5-7-5 rule of haiku. This 5-7-5 rule IS part of haiku, but I have other ideas about that rule, but that idea brought disunity to our Carpe Diem Haiku Kai family and that's for sure not how I see our Carpe Diem Haiku Kai. We are a community of very different individuals and that is what makes our Haiku Kai. Diversity and wonderful people are our base and I love to make this community of haiku poets a steady community in which everyone, every individual can write/compose his/her haiku as they love to do it and that's why I removed 5-7-5 from the Header. With this explanation I shut the discussion on the 5-7-5 rule. A few last words ... enjoy haiku, it's a wonderful poetry form which is binding us together ... we all love to write and share haiku.

We are on our way to find peace of mind and therefore we are exploring the Bhagavad Gita and today it's all about delusion. Arjuna standing in the middle of the two armies has a conversation with Krishna. Arjuna is disillusioned as he sees the armies in which he has friends, relatives and family standing against each other for battle. Krishna tries to take away the delusion of Arjuna.

Krishna says that whatever exists is nothing but Himself. He is the cause of the appearance of the universe and all things in it. Everything is strung on Him like clusters of gems on a string. He is the essence, substance and substratum of everything, whether visible or invisible. Although everything is in Him, yet He transcends everything as the actionless Self. Prakriti or Nature is made up of the three Gunas or qualities—Sattwa, Rajas and Tamas. These three qualities delude the soul and make it forget its true nature, which is one with God. This delusion, termed Maya, can only be removed by the Grace of the Lord Himself.

As I re-read this than another idea/concept of Maya comes in mind and than I am confused, because in the above quote we read that Maya is delusion, but in the Upanishads I read a completely different concept:

Māyā pre-exists and co-exists with Brahman – the Ultimate Principle, Consciousness. Maya is perceived reality, one that does not reveal the hidden principles, the true reality. Maya is unconscious, Atman is conscious. Maya is the literal, Brahman is the figurative Upādāna – the principle, the cause. Maya is born, changes, evolves, dies with time, from circumstances, due to invisible principles of nature, state the Upanishads. Atman-Brahman is eternal, unchanging, invisible principle, unaffected absolute and resplendent consciousness. Maya is "the indifferent aggregate of all the possibilities of emanatory or derived existences, pre-existing with Brahman", just like the possibility of a future tree pre-exists in the seed of the tree.
I wonder ... can it be that Hinduism is a religion with contradictions? That makes Hinduism as complex as it is. And it becomes very clear that "peace of mind" is not an easy task as Arjuna is experiencing in the Bhagavad Gita.

Can I say that there is a connection with Christianity in this idea of delusion? I don't know but the last words of the first quote "This delusion can only be removed by the Grace of the Lord Himself". Is this delusion of the same level as forgiveness?

peace of mind
lotuses reach for the sun
growing from the dark

© Chèvrefeuille

Not a strong haiku I think, but ... it's a difficult matter to catch delusion in a haiku ....

This episode is open for your submissions tonight at 7.00 PM (CET) and will remain open until April 16th at noon (CET). I will (try to) publish our next episode, a new GW-post based on a haiku by our featured haiku poetess Kala Ramesh (a 'double' episode), later on. For now .... have fun!