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Volume 32.2
Summer 2001

editor's speculations


Robert Spiess

R. H. Blyth says it well: “The one thing that a haiku poet is instinctively and consciously on guard against is ‘explanatory’poetry.’”

[Haiku, Vol.. I, p. 286, original edition.]

A genuine haiku poet is one who has not lost the heart of a child.

[Prompted by a passage by Mencius.]

Haiku place living above thinking.

The haiku poet finds perceptual reality supremely more important than conceptual reality.

Haiku are oases in the desert of technology.

Haiku are about experiences and experiencing, the experiencer exists only by implication.

Haiku are the infinite ways of expressing the finite.

Authentic haiku “look into” the nature of reality not through intellective analysis but by deep absorption so that awareness is not superficial but profoundly intuitive.

[Gloss on words by Mu Soeng Sunim.]

In haiku we inter are.

Although simile occasionally occurs in Japanese masters’ haiku, it is rather rare. Perhaps for us the main reason that good haiku seldom use simile is exemplified by the proverb “Comparisons are odious.” Haiku is the comparison-less poetry of Suchness.

Genuine haiku poets generally accept the proposition that they and their creations should not be self-centered. This view is excellently expressed by Arnold Toynbee in his book A Historian’s Approach to Religion (New York, 1956, pp. 4-5): “Self-centeredness is an intellectual error because no living creature is in truth the center of the universe; and it is also a moral error, because no living creature has a right to act as if it were the center of the universe. It has no right to treat its fellow creatures, the universe and God or Reality as if they existed simply in order to minister to one self-centered living creature’s demands.”

For haiku poets all entities have equal value, for every entity has infinite or absolute value.

[Gloss on words of R. H. Blyth.]

Haiku have a strong ally in the modern and influential process philosophy, which holds that the processes of change and relations between events are more basic than the concept of enduring self-contained entities, that nature is a dynamic web of interconnected events, characterized by both uniqueness as well as order, and also that human life and non-human life are not separated by any absolute demarcation.

[Prompted in part by a passage of Ian G. Barbour’s.]

The study and practice of haiku encourage one to move from a narrow, ego-centered venue to one that is limitlessly open. It is an awakening to the dynamic suchness of the world’s entities.

[Promoted in part by a passage of Taitetsu Onno’s.]

A genuine haiku murmurs “Just this, just this.”

The haiku poet leaves everything in its own state and place, and follows the natural order of existence.

Haiku poets should not allow their words, their mode of expression, to exceed the suchness of the entities presented in their haiku.




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