Monday, January 23, 2017

Carpe Diem #1133 walking the Road

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

This month we are on our way to Santiago De Compostela together with Paulo Coelho and his guide Petrus. We have learned a lot and we have seen a lot. This Road to Santiago is really awesome and it turned out to be a spiritual adventure.

Today I love to challenge you to create haiku, tanka or other Japanese poetry form inspired on a photo. I haven't enough time today to create a long episode, so what's easier ... just share an image to inspire you.

The Road to Santiago
This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until January 28th at noon (CET).

Carpe Diem honors Jane Reichhold (1937-2017) F.) Sierra Mountains (tanka)

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Welcome at the penultimate episode of our special Theme Week to celebrate Jane Reichhold's 80th birthday. Jane has meant a lot for Carpe Diem Haiku Kai. She was co-host and she once said that Carpe Diem Haiku Kai is hte best website about haiku and other Japanese poetry forms around the globe. Of course that made me proud, but also humble. Who am I that I can and may do this ...

Yesterday I inspired you with haiku, so this day we will find ou inspiration in her tanka.

the dreamer
never dreaming
to live a dream
leaving everyone else
behind in the future

long meadow
is too short to hold
the emptiness
of leaving a family
longing for their faces

high in the mountains
suspended over the valley
even spirits
smoothing the paths
toe to heel, toe to heel

ocean breezes
a coolness blowing inland
my message
meets hers mid-air
the tie that binds

© Jane Reichhold (taken from: She Alone)

Sierra Mountains (image found on Pinterest)

In "She Alone" Jane describes a trip her daughter, Heidi, made into the Sierra Mountains. Between the stories Jane created tanka, so you can say that this is a tanka-haibun.

high up in the mountains
the air becomes thin and rich
taking my breath away
she ... the beauty of my life
brings me to a higher state

© Chèvrefeuille

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

Carpe Diem #1132 ‘The wrong answer will indicate the right one.’ (Petrus)

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

We are almost at the goal of our pilgrimage of this month, Santiago De Compostela. We have walked the Road together with Paulo and his guide Petrus while we were reading "The Pilgrimage". During our walk we learned a few exercises, and maybe just as Paulo did, we don't see or know the purpose of these exercises, but than ... there is this situation, a problem to resolve or something and finally we see the purpose of these exercises.

While Paulo and Petrus are on their way they encounter a sacred cross that has broken and fallen. Paulo shakes his head, but doesn't do anything to resolve this. Petrus however commands him to repair the cross. And than Paulo experiences in a spiritual way what the Saviour has felt.

Wooden cross somewhere along the Road to Santiago

[...] ‘The wrong answer will indicate the right one.’ The impossible solution would be to try to drag the cross to a different place; I no longer had the strength to do that. It was also impossible to try digging deeper into the ground. So if the impossible answer was to go deeper into the earth, the possible answer was to raise the earth. But how?
And suddenly … I could raise the earth!
I began to collect all the stones nearby and placed them around the hole, mixing them with the earth I had removed. With great effort, I lifted the foot of the cross a little and supported it with stones to raise it higher off the ground. In half an hour, the ground was higher, and the hole was deep enough.  Now I just had to get the cross into the hole. It was the last step, and I had to make it work. One of my hands was numb, and the other was giving me a great deal of pain. My arms were wrapped in bandages. But my back was all right; it had just a few scratches. If I could lie down beneath the cross and raise it bit by bit, I would be able to slide it into the hole.
I stretched out on the ground, feeling the dust in my nose and eyes. With the hand that was numb, I raised the cross a fraction and slid underneath it. Carefully, I adjusted my position so that its trunk rested squarely on my back. I felt its weight and knew that it would be heavy to lift but not impossible. I thought about the Seed Exercise, and very slowly I squirmed into a fetal position, balancing the cross on my back. Several times I thought it was going to fall, but I was working slowly; I was able to sense the direction it might take and correct for it by repositioning my body. I finally achieved the position I wanted, with my knees in front of me and the cross balanced. For a moment, the foot of the cross shook on the pile of stones, but it did not fall out of place.

wooden cross somewhere along the Road to Santiago
‘It’s a good thing I don’t have to save the universe,’ I thought, oppressed by the weight of the cross and everything it represented. A profoundly religious feeling took possession of me. I remembered that another person had carried the cross on his shoulders and that his damaged hands had not been able to free themselves from the wood or the pain as mine could. This religious feeling was loaded down with pain, but I forgot about it immediately because the cross began to shake again.
Then, slowly raising myself up, I began a rebirth. I couldn’t look behind me, and sound was my only means of orientation. But just a while ago I had learned how to listen to the world, as if Petrus had guessed that I was going to need this kind of knowledge. I felt the weight of the cross and sensed that the stones were accommodating each other. The cross rose bit by bit, as if to help me in this test. It was as if the cross, itself, wanted to return to its position, framing that section of the Road to Santiago.
One final push was all that was needed. If I could get into a seated position, the trunk of the cross would slide down my back into the hole. One or two of the stones had been dislodged, but the cross was now helping me, since its foot remained in place where I had built up the wall. Finally, a pull on my back indicated that the base was free. It was the final moment, just as at the waterfall when I had had to fight my way through the current: the most difficult moment, because it is then that we fear failure and want to give up before it occurs. Once again I sensed how absurd the task was, trying to raise a cross when all I really wanted to do was find my sword. But none of these thoughts was important. With a sudden thrust, I raised my back, and  the cross slid into place. At that moment I recognized once again that fate had been directing the work I had done.
I stood there expecting the cross to fall in the other direction, scattering the stones I had placed. Then I thought that maybe my push had not been strong enough and that the cross was going to fall back on top of me. But what I heard was the muffled sound of something hitting against the bottom of the hole.
I turned carefully. The cross was upright, and it was still trembling from the impact. Some stones were rolling down their slope, but the cross was not going to fall. I quickly put the stones back in place and embraced  the cross so that it would stop wavering. I felt alive and hot, certain that the cross had been my friend throughout all of my work. I stepped away slowly, improving the placement of the stones with my feet. I stood there admiring my work for a long time, until my wounds began to hurt. Petrus was still asleep. I went over to him and nudged him with my foot. He awoke with a start and looked at the cross. ‘Very good,’ was all that he said." [...]
(Source: The Pilghrimage by Paulo Coelho)

In this piece from The Pilgrimage we read that Paulo uses the Seed Exercise to bring the cross in an upright position. Sometimes we need such an impossible situation to learn how to cope with it. Than we will remember that what we need to accomplish it.

In a way you can compare this with what is know as the impossible question, the koan, which we all will know, because of the fact that haiku (and tanka) can be such a koan, an impossible question that cannot be answered except through an "aha-erlebnis", a moment of clarity of mind.

The Road to Santiago ... it's a beautiful road to walk, but it certainly isn't an easy road ... It will "torture" you, but it also will "surprise" you. The nature along the Road is breathtaking and the hospitality of the people along the Road is legendary ... yes it is an once in your lifetime experience and I hope you have felt this during this month.

along the road
poppies start blooming again -
the scent of straw

© Chèvrefeuille

a whispered prayer -
pilgrims on their way to Santiago
walking the Path of God
reaching out to their deepest thoughts
seeking the Light

seeking the Light
while chanting psalms or mantras
pilgrims on their way
enjoying Mother Earth's beauty -
a whispered prayer
© Chèvrefeuille

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

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Carpe Diem honors Jane Reichhold (1937-2017) E.) Fuji No Yama

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

What a joy to bring you a new episode of our special Theme Week "Carpe Diem honors Jane Reichhold'. As you all know the haiku and tanka world has a lot to be grateful of and I think we can be grateful for all that Jane has meant for the haiku and tanka world. Jane was one of the best modern haiku poetesses I know and she was part of our Haiku Kai family for a few years. If she would still be alive we had celebrated her 80th birthday, but as you all know Jane died last year. So this Theme Week is special because we are celebrating her 80th birthday with a lot of wonderful poems created by her.

Today I love to share a few of her haiku to inspire you. This time I have chosen you bring a few spring haiku written by her. These haiku I have extracted from her "A Dictionary of Haiku", a modern saijiki.

spring clouds above Fuji No Yama, the holy mountain of Japan
morning breeze
coming in the window
surf sounds

changing forms
all around the Buddha
clouds in a blue sky

flooding the river
with spring

spring cloud melt
flooding river willows
green leaves

© Jane Reichhold (A Dictionary of Haiku, spring part)

A lovely series of haiku of spring by Jane. And the image of Mount Fuji No Yama, the holy mountain of Japan, brings me also the possibility to tell you a little bit of our upcoming month. I remember that I had other plans for February, but recently I read a wonderful story, more a diary, about Japan, the land of the rising sun. That story triggered me and it brought me an idea for next month. Next month, February, we will travel through Japan. We will visit places which are important for us haiku poets, but we also will discover that wonderful country where our beloved haiku (and tanka) was born.

Image found on Pinterest
cherry blossoms bloom
in praise of the gods Fuji No Yama

© Chèvrefeuille

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

Carpe Diem #1131 meditation

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Do you meditate? Do you know "agape", the love of the Lord as he radiated to His disciples at the last meal before His trial and crucifixion? That strong love you can feel as you meditate. Meditation is not only something we learn from only the Eastern religions and spiritual movements, it became part of our Western philosophy too. Meditation helps you to focus and come in close contact with the spirituality of nature and the Cosmos. Meditation can give you the peace you need in your life.
I think everyone of us mediates and I believe that everyone has his/her own way (and reasons) to meditate.
To me meditation gives me the peace of heart I need. It makes my mind clear and silent. It helps me to bring that silence into my mind. As you all know I am a very busy person, not only through my work, but also through being your host here and through all the things I love to do. Than there are days that my mind and heart cannot become in peace or silence ... than I meditate.

This is what Paulo learns during his pilgrimage to Santiago and I hope to reflect that here this month while we are walking the Road to Santiago on the virtual highway. Isn't it wonderful that we can enter the whole world through the Internet? We can visit libraries at the other side of the globe, we can visit places and countries everywhere on our planet just by "walking" the virtual highway.
A while ago we visited for example Shikoku Island to walk the once in a lifetime pilgrimage of Buddhists along the 88 temples of Shikoku. We have visited a big part of the European countries. We have conquered the steppes and the taiga of Mongolia and Russia. We traveled along the Trans Siberian Railway without leaving our home, just by "walking" the virtual highway.

The Road to Santiago
This month we are on our way to Santiago walking the Road of Saint James, finding our roots of spirituality, finding the silence and the depths of our heart and mind ... awesome.

As Paulo and Petrus (his guide) are on their way to Santiago they use several exercises to find their deeper grounds. And today I love to introduce to you another wonderful exercise we can do ourselves. This exercise is called "The Blue Sphere Exercise".

The Blue Sphere Exercise

Seat yourself comfortably, and relax. Try not to think about anything.
1. Feel how good it is to be alive. Let your heart feel free and affectionate; let it rise above and beyond the details of the problems that may be bothering you. Begin to sing softly a song from your childhood. Imagine that your heart is growing, filling the room – and later your home – with an intense, shining blue light.
2. When you reach this point, begin to sense the presence of the saints (or other beings) in which you placed your faith when you were a child. Notice that they are present, arriving from everywhere, smiling and giving you faith and confidence.
3. Picture the saints approaching you, placing their hands on your head and wishing you love, peace, and communion with the world – the communion of the saints.
4. When this sensation becomes strong, feel that the blue light is a current that enters you and leaves you like a shining, flowing river. This blue light begins to spread through your house, then through your neighborhood, your city, and your country; it eventually envelops the world in an immense blue sphere. This is the manifestation of the great love that goes beyond the day-today struggle; it reinforces and invigorates, as it provides energy and peace.
5. Keep the light spread around the world for as long as possible. Your heart is open, spreading love. This phase of the exercise should last for a minimum of five minutes.
6. Come out of your trance, bit by bit, and return to reality. The saints will remain near. The blue light will continue to spread around the world.
This ritual can and should be done with more than one person. When this is the case, the participants should hold hands while they do the exercise.
It's a wonderful way of meditating. I will bring you the comfort, peace, love and silence you need to break loose from your daily life. You just have to try it to experience it. It's really awesome.

Meditation ... I love it!

Blue Sphere
magic experience
surrounded by a blue sphere
I find my peace

© Chèvrefeuille

deep silence
closing my eyes
the blue sky

© Chèvrefeuille

What a wonderful experience this was. I hope it will inspire you to create haiku, tanka or an other Japanese poetry form.

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