Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Haiku of Life

I love haiku.

Ok, there, I said it. But, really, who's surprised? I'm into Zen, I'm into language, and haiku is the Zen of language. Sincere, to the point, and brief, haiku embodies the simple directness of Zen quite well. Brevity is a great thing. I've been struggling with it lately. Every entry I write here ends up way longer than I want it; I want my ideas in a concise, dense form, where each sentence is packed and really carries it's weight... yet I end up going on and on with explanations, since often what I'm writing comes from an unfamiliar or a weird perspective (mine). All the caffeine probably isn't helping. Consider this, though: a picture is worth a thousand words, but one good haiku can paint it. I love the concept of a phrase, a sentence, that in itself speaks volumes. Depth in brevity, yes.

I apply the concept of brevity and simplicity to all parts of my life. It's the ideal I hope to attain to. I'm always editing out words that don't really add anything. The eraser, the backspace, these are my friends. I always seek to reduce my possessions, believing that in all realms of my life only what is necessary should remain. Yet I admit I sometimes really enjoy reading writers like Thoreau, who wrote so beautifully in that old Victorian manner, very flowery, well padded sentences. Sentences that could be cut down severly, as Hemingway did; but I'm no great fan of his.

Goethe said "everything is a metaphor" and I feel that is true, for reasons that would take at least one lengthy post to explain. Though I don't believe in the whole "think positive and all will be well" philosophy, I do agree that one must first dream a thing before he can do it, must concieve in some manner of the opportunities and blessings lest he miss them altogether.

So I wonder if this simplicity thing is percolating into my life and actually limiting the wealth of my experience. If I'm always looking for what to cut, what to get rid of, what's not necessary, am I missing an abundance that could otherwise be mine if I had room for it in my conceptions?

printing haiku
with an empty ink cartridge...
true Zen?


  1. I've never gotten in to haiku. Don't know why.

    As to your question, by cutting out what is unnecessary, I would say you leave room for great abundance -- abundance of energy, abundance of light, abundance of thought and abundance of mystery.

  2. I like to believe so, sir. I just don't want to fall into an outlook of poverty.

  3. I have a friend who, every Friday, sends to all her friends some haiku. She is Chinese, doing this Japanese thing, and we love her for it. Her verses open up things in our own minds, like verbal gingko biloba.