Thursday, May 25, 2017

Carpe Diem Namasté, The Spiritual Way #10 Ascension

!!! The submission for this "weekend-meditation" starts next Sunday May 28th at 7:00 PM (CET) !!!

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Welcome at a new episode of our CDHK "Namasté, The Spiritual Way". This week I love to challenge you to create haiku, tanka or an other Japanese poetery form, inspired on "Ascension". As I publish this episode "Ascension Day" (or in Dutch, Hemelvaartsdag) is almost over. You all will know that Ascension Day is a Christian holiday in which the Ascension of Jesus Christ is celebrated. But here at CDHK I do not pretend to promote the Christian belief or which other religion there is. So I have tried to make this "weekend-meditation" more common than Ascension Day will be.

I have chosen to tell you more about Ascension. Maybe you remember or Theme Week about "The Ascended Masters" in that theme -week I also told you about Ascension. Today however I love to watch to the more spiritual meaning of Ascension. (Source: Ascension Symptoms)

Many people are confused about what Ascension means when it is referred to in the spiritual sense. Ascension can mean different things to many people. The literal definition of the word ascension means: the act of ascending or ascent; to be risen up or to climb. The concept or idea of Ascension itself can be explained in several different contexts depending on the spiritual tradition or philosophy.

Ascension, in a simple and spiritual sense is very similar to the Eastern concept of Enlightenment found in Buddhism. To become Enlightened can simply mean to have "full comprehension of a situation". Enlightenment is a spiritual revelation or deep insight into the meaning and purpose of all things, communication with or understanding of the mind of God or Source, profound spiritual understanding or a fundamentally changed consciousness whereby everything is perceived as an interconnected unity.

Ascension in its basic spiritual or mystical sense can be thought of as the highest state of Man (humanity). It is the expansion of awareness. It involves the realization of being ONE with the Creator and all of creation. An individual is 'ascending' in the sense that something of a lower vibration is ascending; is is being 'raised up' or becoming higher in vibration. This is why many Spiritual traditions aim to achieve the dissolution of the human ego (lower self) in order to realize the true nature of their being, or Higher Self.

Ascension, in this spiritual sense of the word, does not mean that one's physical body is lifted off the ground and flies through the air, ascending up into or above the clouds towards a physical place called 'heaven', although some religious adherents still literally imagine this very scenario. But for the sake of understanding, If Ascension did actually involve entering heaven without dying, then it would be more accurate to say that Ascension is about 'bringing heaven to earth' by raising the 'lower vibrational aspect of your non-physical being to a higher vibrational state of being or realization.

Ascension can also be understood in a more metaphysical way by considering the concept of 'Dimensions' or 'planes of existence, or planes of conscious'. This would mean that Ascension is about shifting from one dimension, frequency, plane of existence or conscious (such as the 'lower' physical Earth plane) to another plane, dimension or state of consciousness that is of a 'higher frequency'.

The Ascension of Jesus Christ
Maybe you know about several Ascensions. There is of course the "Ascension of the Christ", but there are other ideas about Ascension. For example there is the Ascension of Buddha.

Ascension of Buddha
But there is also the Ascension of the Prophet, Muhammad.

The Ascension of Muhammad Miraj-Isra
In my opinion Ascension isn't something physical, but it is spiritual. In this time of Aquarius, we all will ascend to a higher state of spirituality. We will go into another dimension, another state of thinking.
Ascension is becoming more spiritual, maybe it is the moment that you choose to take another path to fulfillment, or spiritual growth. I think that we, haiku poets, are creating our own "ascension" through our haiku, tanka or other Japanese poetry form, because we are one with nature, with the cosmos.

What does Hinduism tells us about Ascension?

According to Hindu philosophy, by living a life of Truth governed by various forms of yoga, anyone can ascend to the ultimate state of moksa - release from the round and round cycle of birth and death. This is achieved by understanding the Inner Self (God), by overcoming ignorance and desire requires one to live constantly (every act, thought and breath) in the awareness of God. Paradoxically, moksa cannot be attained if it is one's goal. Ascension to moksa can only occur when one life of Truth transcends all desires (including the desire for moksa). The dynamics and liveliness of the Hindu belief system allows for use of ancient texts as well as continuous contemporary instruction on exactly how to live in Truth.

Atman, Ascension in Hinduism (image found on Pinterest)
As I re-read this (maybe to long) episode of Namasté, The Spiritual Way, than I think I am more a guy that fits in the idea of Ascension as taught by Hinduism, because I think that through living a good life full of truth I will ascend to a higher consciousness, another spiritual dimension.

For this "weekend-meditation" I have sought the Internet for haiku on Ascension. Here are a few examples that I encountered:

Morning fog lifts
the grayness of the still creek,
joy in ascension

© macandrew

ascension colors
ever changing from downfall 
grows stronger with time

© Marty King

the glorious light
touches my poetic soul
am I a witness

© Joyce Johnson

As I was searching the Internet I ran into "The Haiku Stairs", a steep hike on the island O'ahu Hawaii. This "Haiku Stairs", has nothing to do with our haiku, it has to do with a flower that grows on this island, but I was surprised as I read the other name "The Stairway to Heaven"; and that fits our theme for this "weekend-meditation" in a great way. So I just had to include it here.

"The Haiku Stairs" or  "The Stairway to Heaven"
To conclude this "weekend-meditation" on Ascension I have a few haiku that I wrote themed Ascension, these are all from my archives.

keeper of the flame
protects the world and its inhabitants
until they rise up

universal experience
walking on the path of wisdom
finding the truth

conquering the seven paths
into Christ Consciousness

dervishes whirling
seeking a higher consciousness -
third eye opens

© Chèvrefeuille

It has become a (to long)  episode, but I loved creating it for you all. And of course this is our "weekend-meditation", so you have all weekend to meditate and contemplate about Ascension.

This "weekend-meditation" is open for your submissions next Sunday May 28th at 7:00 PM (CET) and will remain open until June 2nd at noon (CET). I will try to publish our new episode around that time too. For now ... enjoy your weekend.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Carpe Diem Tan Renga Challenge Month 2017 #16 a drop of dew (Bosha)

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

What a joy to create another beautiful Tan Renga Challenge for you all. Yesterday we had a beautiful "afriku" by Adjei Agyei Baah as our "hokku" and today I have a beauty by a not so well known haiku poet, a contemporary of Shiki and a devotee to Basho, as we already can see in his haigo, Bosha.

Let me tell you first something about this not so well known haiku poet. Kawabata Bosha (1897-1941) was born on August 17 in Downtown Tokyo.His family name is Kawabata Nobukazu. His father had a great influence on his haiku career. His grandfather and his mother worked in a hospital and as a child it was his wish to become a doctor himself.
His stepbrother was Kawabata Ryush (Ryuushi), who later became a famous painter of traditional Japanese Paintings (Nihonga). Bosha himself was also a great painter.

At age 17 he started to use the haigo Bosha. He later became a most beloved student of Takahama Kyoshi and worked with the Aogiri Group. But his lung tuberculosis became worse and he died at a young age in 1941. On the evening of July 16 he died, this was his Jisei (death-poem).

ishi makura shite ware semi ka naki shigure

a stone for a pillow
me, just another cicada ...
so shrill, like crying

© Kawabata Bosha

Kawabata Bosha (1897-1941)
A beautiful Jisei (death-poem) I would say. As read this Jisei I immediately thought about a haiku written by my sensei Matsuo Basho. In a way the haiku by Bosha was I think inspired on a haiku by Basho.

That haiku was the following:

the deep stillness
seeping into the rocks
the voice of the cicadas

© Matsuo Basho

Did you know that the life-circle of a cicada is 17 years? Could it be that our 17 syllables counting haiku was inspired on the life circle of the cicada? As that is true than haiku is for sure the poetry of nature.

Well ... enough talking. Let me give you the "hokku" by Bosha to work with.

a drop of dew 
sits on a rock 
like a diamond

© Kawabata Bosha

a drop of dew
I hope I have inspired you to create the second stanza towards this "hokku" by Bosha. I am looking forward to your responses.

This episode is open for your submissions tonight at 7:00 PM (CET) and will remain open until May 29th at noon (CET). I will try to publish our new "weekend-meditation" a new episode of Namasté, later on. For now ... have fun!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Carpe Diem Tan Renga Challenge Month 2017 #15 ancient road (Adjei Agyei Baah)

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Welcome at a new episode in our Carpe Diem TRC month 2017. Yesterday we had a classical haiku poet, Kikaku, and today we have a modern haiku poet to inspire us. Today I have chosen for a "hokku" written by Adjei Agyei Baah, a very talented haiku poet from Ghana. Adjei invented the "Afriku", the haiku from Africa and is the initiator of several haiku events in Ghana and other parts of Africa. Last year his first haiku compilation "Afriku, haiku and senryu from Ghana" was published by Red Moon Press. "Afriku" is a wonderful compilation of beautiful haiku and senryu and for sure worth to read and re-read.

Today's haiku is not from this "Afriku" compilation, but one of his haiku responses on a prompt by CDHK.

ancient road…
the trails of the masters
absorbed in fallen leaves

© Adjei Agyei-Baah

Ancient Road ...
The task is to create a Tan Renga through association on the scenes in the "hokku" and add two lines of approximately 7-7 syllables towards it.

This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until May 28th at noon (CET). Have fun!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Carpe Diem Tan Renga Challenge Month 2017 #14 Springtime (Kikaku)

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Here is our new "hokku" to work with and create a Tan Renga. This "hokku" is by one of Basho's students, Kikaku.

Springtime in Edo,
Not a day passes without
A temple bell sold.

© Kikaku

Sorry for the delay and the short episode.

This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until May 27th at noon (CET).

Carpe Diem Tan Renga Challenge Month 2017 #13 bamboo (Jane Reichhold)

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

I hope you all have had a wonderful weekend. I had a great weekend on the nightshift (smiles), so I couldn't enjoy the beautiful weather we had here in The Netherlands. The upcoming days I will be free of work and the weather is gonna look great this week so I will enjoy it this week.

Last "regular" Tan Renga Challenge we had a nice haiku by Ogiwara Seisensui, a classical haiku poet who loved the "free-style" way of haiku-ing as we "enjoy" here in the Western world. And in a way that makes him one of my "heroes", because I love the "free-style" too (or as I call it Kanshicho, "in the way of the Chinese poetry").

Today I have another nice haiku in which we can see the Western way of haiku-ing. Our new "hokku" is by my beloved sensei and co-host who died last year, Jane Reichhold. This "hokku" is extracted from Jane's "A Dictionary of Haiku":

waving candlelight into the night

© Jane Reichhold (1937-2016)
A beauty I think. So I am looking forward to your continuations or completions of the Tan Renga starting with this "hokku".
Have fun!
This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until May 27th at noon (CET).

Friday, May 19, 2017

Carpe Diem Extra May 18th 2017 "sunflower" kukai

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Recently I reminded you to send your haiku themed "sunflower" to our emailaddress. Several of you, my dear Haijin, visitors and travelers, have emailed me immediately after that reminder, but there are not enough haiku to make this kukai a success, so I have decided to prolong the time you can submit for the "sunflower" kukai.

You can submit your haiku (maximum 3 and only haiku) until June 1st 2017 10:00 PM (CET). Send your submission to our emailaddress: please write sunflower kukai in the subject line.

Have a great weekend,


Chèvrefeuille, your host.

Carpe Diem Universal Jane #17 fragment and phrase

!!! Open for your submissions next Sunday May 21st at 7.00 PM (CET) !!!

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Welcome at a new "weekend-meditation" episode, this week it's a Universal Jane episode and it's also a kind of reprise episode, because I remember that we have had an earlier post on "fragment and phrase" by Jane Reichhold (1937-2016) and I think I have used it in several other posts, but this "fragment and phrase" theory by Jane is not easy to understand, but easy to use. So I thought to bring itt another time.
(By the way: This will be the last bi-weekly episode of "Universal Jane", because I am busy to create another special feature to honor Jane Reichhold, the Queen of haiku and tanka).


Fragment & Phrase Theory by Jane Reichhold 

The fact that the smallest literary form - haiku - has the most rules never ceases to amaze and astound. The only real comfort one can find in this situation is the concept that this affords a wider range of rules from which a writer can pick and choose. You cannot follow all of the rules and several of them are so contradictory that there is no way to honor them both at once. You must always choose. In order to make a choice, you have to understand the reasons and methods.
To write about one or two “rules” as if these are the “real rules” could (and should!) easily offend those who have chosen to follow opposite or other guidelines. So let me make the disclaimer that in discussing these rules I am discussing only some of the current disciplines I am following in my own haiku writing and which are currently shared by a majority of writers.
First and foremost, and certainly the guideline which I have consciously or unconsciously followed the longest, is the one that a haiku must be divided into two parts. This is the positive side of the rule that haiku should not be a run-on sentence. There needs to be a syntactical break dividing the ku into two parts. From the Japanese language examples this meant that one line (five onji) was separated from the rest by either grammar or punctuation (in the Japanese an accepted sound-word – kireji –  was as if we said or wrote out “dash” or “comma”).
For the purposes of this discussion, I would like to call the shorter portion, the fragment and the longer portion, or rest of the poem, the phrase.
The need for distinguishing between the two parts of the ku takes on importance when one begins to discuss the use of articles (“a”, “an” and “the”) because it is possible to have different rules concerning the different parts. Before getting into that, let me state that the fragment can be (or usually is) either line 1 or line 3. A clear example of the first is:
rain gusts
the electricity goes
on and off

Even without punctuation the reader can hear and feel the break between the fragment (rain gusts) and the phrase (the electricity goes on and off). Also one instinctively feels that the second line break would go after “goes”. Yet, another author may find merit in continuing the line to read “the electricity goes on” and then let the final line bring in the dropped shoe – “and off”. I chose to have “on and off” as the third line because my goal was to establish an association between “rain gusts” and “on and off”. One can write of many qualities of “rain gusts”, but in this ku, the “on and off” aspect is brought forward and then reinforced by bringing in the power of electricity.  An example of the fragment found in the third line is often used as answer when creating a riddle (a valid and well-used haiku technique) as in:

a vegetarian
with legs crossed in zazen
the roasting chicken

It is also possible to write ku in which the reader would have to decide which part was the fragment by combining either lines 1 and 2 or reading lines 2 and 3 together to make the phrase. An example might be:

moonlit pines
the flashlight

But even here, the fact that “moonlit pines” is not written as “the moonlit pines” tells one that the author was silently designating the first line as the fragment even though the middle line has its own curious brevity. Still, the lack of punctuation allows the reader to try out the thought that as the moonlight in the pines became dimmer someone had to turn on a flashlight. Or, reading the poem as it was experienced: the moonlight on the pines was so bright the flashlight seemed to be getting dimmer.
This brings us around to the articles and you may have already guessed the next guideline for using them. In the fragment you can often dispense with the use of an article to leave the noun stand alone. Sometimes you can even erase the preposition from the fragment especially if you are feeling that you will scream if you read one more haiku which begins with “in the garden”.
This guideline asks sensitivity. It is not a hard and fast rule. But during the revising stage of writing your ku, it is something to try. Cover up the preposition and the article in the fragment and see if the ku holds together. Perhaps it will even get stronger! If you feel the article and preposition are needed, then by all means, use them. Do whatever works for your voice. In the “roasted chicken” ku I debated about leaving the articles out, but decided the ku needed the “grease to the wheels of understanding” of the articles. But if you are seeking to shorten the ku, look first to the fragment as you cross out unneeded words.
However, one cannot follow the same “rule” in writing the phrase portion of the ku. Sometimes critics make the comment in a workshop that a haiku is “choppy”. What they are referring to is the feeling that at the end of each line the break in syntax is final. The two lines of the phrase are not hooked together in a flow of grammar and meaning. Notice the difference between:

low winter sun
raspberry leaves
red and green

If to this “grocery list ku” we add a preposition and an article we get:

low winter sun
in the raspberry leaves
red and green

It pays to be aware of which two lines you wish to make into the phrase. It helps to read the two lines of a ku which are to become your phrase out loud to see how they sound in your mouth and ears. If there is a too-clear break between the lines, ask yourself if you need an article or an article plus a preposition to be inserted. If you do, forget brevity and allow yourself the lyric pleasure of a smooth shift between these two lines.
If I had chosen to make the first line the fragment I would write the ku as:

low winter sun
raspberry leaves glow
red and green

Adding a verb gives the proper grammatical flow between lines 2 and 3. If one added “in the” to the first line, the ku would read as “in the low winter sun raspberry leaves glow red and green” which, to my ears would be a run-on sentence. One other variation on this subject is the haiku in which the break occurs in the middle of the second line. Often one finds this in translations of Basho's haikai taken out of context from a renga. Basically you have a two-liner set into three lines. Occasionally one will find an English haiku written in this manner. Again, it is often “rescued” out of a renga or written by people using 5-7-5 syllable count who end up with too many images as in this example from Borrowed Water edited by Helen Chenoweth in 1966 who wrote:

A cricket disturbed
the sleeping child; on the porch
a man smoked and smiled.

If the comment above sounds too critical of the use of the break in the middle of the second line, let me add that this method becomes very interesting if one is working with parallels. Perhaps that is what Helen was noticing – the difference between the sleeping child and man on the porch. Parallels were learned by the Japanese from the Chinese and often used successfully in haiku and tanka. 
Those persons using punctuation in their ku, will often find themselves making a dash after the fragment and hopefully nothing, not even a comma in the middle of the phrase, even if there is a breath of the possibility of one. Sometimes, the haiku sounds like a run-on sentence because the author is too lazy to rewrite the fragment clearly and thus, has to add a dash forcing the reader into the obligatory break.
For me, this is a red flag that the writer either did not believe in the “haiku has two parts” rule or didn't stay with the rewrite long enough to solve the problem properly.
Frankly, I see most punctuation as a cop-out. Almost any ku written as a run-on sentence (with or without its dash) can be rewritten so the grammar syntax forms the proper breaks. Or the author forms places where the reader can decide where to make the break and thus, give the haiku additional meaning. From this philosophy, I view haiku with punctuation as haiku which perhaps fail to fit this basic form. Some writers, unable, or unwilling to understand the use of fragment and phrase will write the ku in one line. If the author has a well-developed feeling for fragment and phrase, the grammar will expose which is which. In these cases, my feeling is - why not write the ku in the three lines it “shows” by the way it sounds.
Occasionally a haiku is written that is so full of possible divisions into what is the fragment or the phrase that writing it in one line is the only way that offers the reader the complete freedom to find the breaks. And with each new arrangement the meaning of the poem varies.  An example would be:

mountain heart in the stone mountain tunnel light 

Over the years I gradually gave up (and easily abandoned) the dashes, semi-colons, commas and full stops to incorporate ambiguity in the ku, but it has been hard for me to let go of the question mark - which is rather silly, as it is so clear from the grammar that a question is being asked. Still, and yet . . . I mention this, so newcomers to haiku understand that rules are not written in stone, but something each of us has to work out for ourselves. It is an on-going job and one I hope will never end.
The usual way we find new “rules” is by reading the work of others and deciding for ourselves what works as a ku or what we admire. Consciously or unconsciously we begin to imitate the style that “rule” creates. Usually we stay with a “rule” until we find a new one to replace it. Because there are so many rules, we all have different set with which we are working. By carefully reading a good-quality haiku journal, you can see which “rules” the editor is accepting by the haiku printed. That does not mean “this” is the only way to write a haiku.
You need to make the decision: are those a rules, goals or guidelines some I want for myself? This thought is much more gentle than saying some haiku are good and others are bad.
There is, thank goodness, no one way to write a haiku. Though the literature has haiku which we admire and even model our own works on, there is no one style or technique which is absolutely the best. Haiku is too large for that. Haiku has, in its short history been explored and expanded by writers so that now we have a fairly wide range of styles, techniques and methods to investigate.   
Jane Reichhold (1937-2016)
Personally, I would prefer more discussions of these techniques using riddles, associations, contrasts, oneness, sense-switching, narrowing focus, metaphor and simile (yes! judicially and in moderation), sketch (Shiki's shasei), double entendre, close linkage, leap linkage, pure objectivism, and more, rather than the mysterious idea that if one has a true haiku moment the resulting ku will be an excellent haiku.
This is pure rot. The experience is necessary and valid (and probably the best part of the haiku path), but writing is writing is skill and a craft to be learned.  Techniques are methods of achieving a known goal in writing. They are something to learn and then forget as Basho has already told us. But once you learn them you will understand why some haiku “work” for you and others do not. It also prepares you to instinctively use the best technique for each of your haiku experiences.  Perhaps, nothing is absolute in haiku. Like life, haiku require learning, experience and balance.

We have had two series of Haiku Writing Techniques here at CDHK (you can find the e-books in our Library), without Jane's knowledge I couldn't have done that. And the months in which Basho was the main theme were also possible through the knowledge of Jane. I have learned a lot from her and I hope the same for you my dear Haijin, visitors and travelers.

This episode I love to ask you all to create haiku (or tanka) in which you use the fragment and phrase theory as stated by Jane Reichhold, just to honor her.
bare branches of the twin oak
in the backyard
© Chèvrefeuille
together as one
the butterfly and the bee
searching for honey
© Chèvrefeuille
weeping willow

This haiku I wrote in 2011, it was part of an article about a haiku by Matsuo Basho in which I tried (as we do in our CD Specials) to write a haiku in the same tone, sense and spirit as the haiku by Basho. Maybe I have to give that Basho haiku also here to show you what I mean, but let me first give the haiku I wrote:

 hot summerday
the shadow of the willows
Ah! that coolness
© Chèvrefeuille

And this was the haiku by Basho which played the leading role in that article:

essential to life
the little space under my hat
enjoying the coolness

© Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold)
I have given it a thought reading it aloud and noticed that there were two moments to take a breath, after the first and second line. With the above article in mind and the idea that every haiku must be said in one breath ... I re-wrote the haiku to the next form:

Ah! that coolness
the willows' shadow
on a hot summerday

© Chèvrefeuille

I don't know if this re-done haiku has become revitalized, but I have to say this second version is better than the first version. 
And now it is up to you to use the "fragment and phrase" way of writing haiku yourself. Enjoy this exercise. This episode is open for your submissions next Sunday May 21st at 7.00 PM (CET) and will remain open until May 26th at noon (CET). I will try to publish our next episode around the same time as the submissions start.


Carpe Diem Universal Jane #17 fragment and phrase

!!! Open for your submissions next Sunday May 21st at 7.00 PM (CET) !!! Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers, Welcome at a new "w...