Author Topic: Haiku & Buddhism  (Read 10376 times)

nobodhi

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 13
    • View Profile
    • interbeing
Haiku & Buddhism
« on: August 25, 2011, 03:20:38 PM »
Here are some prompts to open conversation.
  • Is haiku an expression of Buddhism — or is Buddhism an adjunct of haiku ?

  • Is Buddhism a religion ?

    • When we say Buddhism, many typically think of Zen, but what about Pure Land (Issa, comes to mind, for example), as well as Theravada ("mindfulness"), Vajrayana (Tibetan), etc ?

    • Is the pause (kireji) within a haiku an expression of sunyata, blank essence — with the vivid imagery on either side instances of suchness (tathata) ?


Gabi Greve

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 254
    • View Profile
    • World Kigo Database
Re: Haiku & Buddhism
« Reply #1 on: August 25, 2011, 03:39:05 PM »
Hi, Mister No Bodhi !
(sorry I do not know your name ... )

Too many questinons for one to answer, but my take on koan and haiku is here

They may not be HAIKU in the purist sense, but they connect in the realm where Zen and Haiku meet. Some need a lot of explanation to be understood, some stand quite well by themselves.

http://happyhaiku.blogspot.com/2005/03/koan-and-haiku-01.html

Haiku  (and waka) has been part of Japanese daily life, so has Buddhism in Japan.
It is only natural that both should meet in the daily life of the Japanese people.


smacking a child -
the sound of one hand
clapping


Gabi

Don Baird

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1723
    • View Profile
    • Living Haiku Anthology
Re: Haiku & Buddhism
« Reply #2 on: August 25, 2011, 10:02:52 PM »
Hi Gary,

Welcome aboard.  You've opened with a broad post that should cause folks to scratch their minds.  Take care ... all the best,

Don

@Gabi:

the sound
of one hand clapping ...
never struck me

LOL
« Last Edit: August 25, 2011, 10:17:43 PM by Don Baird »
I write haiku because they're there ...

storm drain
the vertical axis
of winter

AlanSummers

  • Guest
Re: Haiku & Buddhism
« Reply #3 on: August 25, 2011, 10:26:02 PM »
Hi Gary,

Nice to see you post here, thank you! ;-)

Looking forward to some nice responses to your post.

all my best,

Alan


Hi Gary,

Welcome aboard.  You've opened with a broad post that should cause folks to scratch their minds.  Take care ... all the best,

Don

@Gabi:

the sound
of one hand clapping ...
never struck me

LOL

DavidGrayson

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 84
    • View Profile
Re: Haiku & Buddhism
« Reply #4 on: August 28, 2011, 03:42:32 PM »
Hi Gary,

Welcome! Thanks for starting this thread!

Is Buddhism a religion? I looked up “religion” on Merriam-Webster and found this definition: “a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices.” When I think of Buddhism, I immediately think of that last word in the definition: “practices.” 

Good point about Pure Land, Theravada, and so forth.

David

nobodhi

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 13
    • View Profile
    • interbeing
Re: Haiku & Buddhism
« Reply #5 on: August 29, 2011, 01:54:24 PM »
thank you, gabi, don, alan, and david.

oops! i just noticed there already is a buddhist haiku thread here.  i sure didn't mean to balkanize the discussion ... please forgive my seeing the world as if a frog seeing sky thru the bottom of a well ... and am mulling over don's sense of things from the other thread; will reply there to what he said there, rather than here, if that's not confusing.

if by religion, david, we mean something connecting an individual to a greater whole in which we're embedded, or providing a deep meaning to life, and providing guidelines for conscious conduct (ethics), then buddhism certainly fits the bill.  but it doesn't bring first cause into its picture  (BYO) nor creator deity ; nor the two-fer (two-for-one) of immortal soul & heaven ; etc.  plus, shakyamuni buddha opposed priestly caste.   nor is there anything to convert to, so one can be an atheist, a benedictine, a hassid, or a sufi and still practice buddhism.   

( interesting that miriam webster incoporates personal as well as institutional practice ; but isn't the definition circular, tautological, self-referential by defining religion in terms of what's religious ... a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices.      like defining haiku by saying it's the practice of writing haiku ... what is it ?


DavidGrayson

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 84
    • View Profile
Re: Haiku & Buddhism
« Reply #6 on: August 30, 2011, 10:41:25 PM »
Good point about the merriam webster definition. Rereading their various definitions for religion, a few are certainly tautological. Interesting. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/religion

haikurambler

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 78
    • View Profile
    • Haiku Crossroads
Re: Haiku & Buddhism
« Reply #7 on: August 31, 2011, 05:12:10 PM »
Hi nobhodi (good luck with that) ^_^

Is haiku an expression of Buddhism — or is Buddhism an adjunct of haiku ?

I'd say that haiku is a product of a complex cultural religious background. Not at all exclusively Buddhist.

Also, since the publication of: Bashō and the Dao: the Zhuangzi and the transformation of Haikai By Peipei Qiu [sample it here -  http://goo.gl/96MNQ] We have a whole renaisance of Tao ideas back in old Japan (especially the somewhat eccentric wayless way of Zhuangzi (Chuang Tzu) - who towers beside Laozi, apparently. To break out of the mould of populist poetry forms, the more sophisticated haiki players in the floating world of Edo and precincts, went ape over, what one Benedictine monk nutshelled as (and not without humour):     

"You enter upon the way of Chuang Tzu when you leave all ways and get lost." ~ Thomas Merton

The great wayless way traveller himself, Basho, is said to have modelled his entire haiku methodology, to no small extent, on the back of this refreshing new wave of Tao knowledge, in his later years. And who could deny he did an outstanding job with it?

So, you know, my point is, that since the early days of haiku's diaspora and certainly as mediated by the beatniks Zen craze, people have fallen into the trance of inserting haiku into, or proclaiming haiku to be the one and only: 'literature of Zen'. Clearly this is myopic nonsense.

So, anyway, your initial question is seriously biased and needs qualified. Haiku, whether in its ancient or modern forms, is NOT Buddhist per se at all, you see. This is a folk legend. At best. Certainly we can do haiku through our particular personal and/or cultural filters, sure - but, lets not be duped into thinking this is the heart and soul of this mysterious little form of insight and expression we all dig. Not by a long chalk.


jp

Snow Leopard

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1919
    • View Profile
Re: Haiku & Buddhism
« Reply #8 on: May 02, 2012, 09:37:53 PM »
Hi All,

A fascinating and thought-provoking topic. It's a long time since anything has been posted here so I hope it's okay to respond to the question raised in the introduction: Is Buddhism a religion?


Speaking from the point of view of an ordinary Buddhist I would say it is a way of life. There are texts (ritual, philosophy, hagiography, eschatology,  instructions for religious adepts - monks, nuns, initiates) which are used in particular contexts usually rites performed in temples, monasteries or even private homes. There is no single organized central church which ordains adherence such as compulsory attendance in temples or monasteries. Most of the rituals and ceremonies are organized by donors/benefactors, who come from all kinds of background.

The ordinary household too sponsors rituals and ceremonies according to the calendar for the year on auspicious days like the birth, death or enlightenment anniversaries of the historical Buddha and other religious-historical figures particular to the country or society.

The concept of karma - that one's actions of merit or demerit determine one's rebirth and also that one alone is responsible for the course one's life takes is the defining principle which drives much of the observances of rituals and decision one makes like joining the monasteries or nunneries for a life of meditation and learning. A monk and nun can opt out of the religious life and training and become a lay person, often performing rites in the villages as trained adepts.

In case I give the impression that Buddhists are ritual-orientated I must qualify that this again is down to how much one can afford to do devote time, effort and money and how one perceives that such acts will work towards good or bad karma.


Compassion for all sentient beings is again linked to the principle of inter-relatedness of things.  That all beings share a common existential suffering as shown in the Four Noble Truths. Also, humans can be reborn as animals, insects etc depending on one's karma. We often say, we never know if a fly is one's grandmother.

The greatest goal is to go beyond this cycle of karmic rebirth where all experiences as we know cease and we see the Clear Light. This goal is not only for a chosen few but for anyone who wants to devote their life and efforts to achieve this.

I don't know if any of this makes any sense at all.