With strange synchronicity I see that today’s prompt word on WordPress is ‘panicked’. https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/panicked/ A feeling of panic was precisely what came over me when I attempted to write a blog post this morning. I have been reading about Basho, haiku and haibun. These are all complex subjects and I am still decoding what I’ve read. I want to write a series of blog posts about it all but when I try to do so I am engulfed in panic. How can I do the subjects justice? Will I get it right? How can I dare to offer an opinion when there are so many experts out there?
Writing helps me clarify my thoughts. Blogging gives me a way of communicating with others and, hopefully, opening up a dialogue. I’ll let my fear of getting it wrong take a back seat and plunge in. I’ll begin with some thoughts on haibun writing. (Haibun is a Japanese form of travelogue that was developed by the poet Basho (1644-1694). Basho’s classic haibun is titled “Oku no hosomichi” – (translation) The Narrow Road to the Deep Northor The Narrow Road to the Interior. https://terebess.hu/english/haiku/basho2.html )
In an article by Sam Hamill* – http://www.kyotojournal.org/the-journal/fiction-poetry/basho%E2%80%99s-ghost/ – I read an explanation of ‘Oku no hosomichi’ –
“Oku means “within” and “farthest” or “dead-end” place; hosomichi means “path” or “narrow road.” The no indicates a possessive. Oku no hosomichi: the narrow road within; the narrow way through the interior.”
Hamill says of The Narrow Road – “Basho … is not looking outside himself; rather he is seeking that which is most clearly meaningful within, and locating the “meaning” within the context of juxtaposed images, images which are interpenetrating and interdependent. The images arise naturally out of the kokoro or shin — the heart/soul/mind.”
“his journey is a pilgrimage; it is a journey into the interior of the self as much as a travelogue; it is a vision quest which concludes insight. The means is the end, just as it is the beginning. Each step is the first step, each step the last.”
The Buddhist concept of the interconnection of all things resonates in Basho’s haibun and haiku. It is in nature that Basho experiences the intense interpenetration of heart, mind and soul. While the obvious place to take this blog post now is into a complex dissertation on the ways and means Basho employed in writing both haiku and haibun I seem to have gone so deeply interior words are eluding me.
Hopefully I will find the words to express my thoughts in further blog posts but for now I shall ponder the complexities of kokoro in silence. Each step is the first, each step is last…
*Sam Hamil is an American writer, peace activist and Zen Buddhist.