Posts Tagged ‘Basho’

I remember hearing that the purpose of the bell in meditation is for the ringing sound to catch the attention. The ears then follow the sound as it fades, leaving only awareness without an object to be aware of.

So when I hear a singing bowl or temple bell or other such sound, I find myself coming to focused attention, taking in the ringing. I allow that attention to follow the sound as it fades away, keeping my awareness open.

Here is a real haiku (not my mimicky ones) that made me think of this:

As the temple bell fades,
The ringing lingers in the blossom scent.


kane kiete hana no ka wa tsuku yuube kana

– Matsuo Bashō

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According to Wikipedia, Matsuo Basho was the most famous poet of the Edo period in Japan. That’s pretty impressive, since the Edo period is listed as going from 1603 to 1868, whereas Basho was only around from 1644 to 1694. He was a famous haiku poet and teacher at the time, but preferred to wander the countryside for inspiration rather than languish in high society.

I think it’s because of his preference for going out and experiencing life that makes him so vibrant and accessible… and funny. He’s another one of my favorite examples of a “stodgy and staid” topic like “respectable poetry” having room for rascals. So in honor of Basho and a very wild week, I want to share a translation of one of his poems (I don’t know who translated it):

Eaten alive by
lice and fleas — now the horse
beside my pillow pees

– Basho

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