'I am going to be 87 years [old] and even though I have sickness I’m happy because I appreciate everything, especially family, sickness, even death, too, I can appreciate through long experience of praying for others all the time. And I respect all religions, too. … Every day I try to appreciate my family and everything, and try to appreciate each moment and to pray for all people and animals and everything else. ...'
Each day Isao, a haijin (that is, a haiku poet or master), writes at least one piece of haiku. Whilst we were having tea together in a coffee shop, on my last day in Japan, he suddenly called for a piece of writing paper on which to inscribe a piece of haiku which had just come to him---in the magic of the moment.
Haiku is both a form of Japanese poetry as well as a spiritual practice that has managed to find its way into numerous religious and spiritual traditions including Christianity. Haiku is also a way of living mindfully, letting---please note that important operative word---the very livingness of life, in all its concrete directness and immediacy, to write itself. A ku is said to be the shortest sequence or set of words equal or corresponding to a complete thought. The word hai means playful or amusing, and also rambling (here, in the sense of writing as one feels inclined). Haiku describes, with choiceless (that is, non-judgmental and non-analytical [hence, very few adjectives, adverbs and other modifiying words]) awareness, the here-and-now---that is, that which is truly real.
Haiku---called hokku in the 17th century (and also called haikai)---was 'invented' by Buddhist monks who quite ingeniously combined, among other things, Buddhist, Confucian and Daoist thought in order to arrive at a means whereby words---despite their inherent limitations---could get as close as possible to saying what is truly real. One famous Japanese haiku poet Bashō (1644-1694), who found the sacred, the holy or the divine in nature, captured the very heart and essence of haiku and mindful living---the two are really one and the same---in these wonderful oft-quoted words:
As a form of Japanese poetry---and a very short form at that, always using a bare minimum of words---haiku is typically characterised (at least in its more traditional form) by four ordinarily readily discernible features, all four of which combine to ensure that any haiku records a direct and immediate experience of life:
Arguably, haiku---which is meant to be heard more than it is to be read--- is best written right after experiencing the event or happening the subject of the poem, with the juxtaposed images being directly observed everyday objects or occurrences, but that does not necessarily have to be the case. Also, as my friend Isao mentioned to me in Japan, haiku should be written having in mind the anticipated effect or impact on the reader. At least that is how he sees it.
THE CALLIGRAPHY OF MINDFULNESS
PIERCING THE MOMENT WITH MINDFULNESS
SHINTO---OR LIVING MINDFULLY WITH THE KAMI