Spare the Rod, Save the Haiku

arms sun - June 18, 2013m

I have no vessel, I receive with both hands
           — Ozaki Hosai *


Once again, a haiku stops me in my tracks…

In this culture, information constantly flashes at us…dulls my feeling sense, if I allow.

Fortunately, ever so often, something within me responds to one of those flashes—in this case, the haiku above.

The deep feeling that lingered was quiet, yet strong.  I can only describe it as “spiritual”.

While I held that feeling, I started to raise questions about the haiku’s meaning…

…then caught myself—too much thought might kill the feeling, or at least, dilute it…

…and I wanted that feeling, full-strength.

I’m not against analysis.  The powers of reason can sometimes lead me to some deep truths.  But when I arrive at a place beyond words, in my experience, it’s better to stop thinking.

Besides, don’t I understand that haiku already?

Let me be clear: the temptation to put that understanding into words is nearly irresistible…

For that matter, maybe I could analyze without killing the feeling…I said: maybe.

But, if nothing else, by stopping my thought, I’ll be developing my powers of restraint…

I‘m thinking of the concept of “Restraint”, as presented in the I Ching…and elsewhere.

I‘m guessing all the world’s religions tell us about the uses and abuses of restraint…

Instead of talking to the rock, as God commanded, Moses smote it with the rod.  Due to his lack of restraint, he was denied the Promised Land, after all his wandering.

As for myself, I’m still practicing the inner action of restraint: I’m not striking the haiku with my intellect, but listening to it with my feeling sense…

And for my effort, it’s taken me to a promised land.

(* This “free form” haiku was found in the anthology From the Country of Eight Islands.  The translation is by Hiraoki Sato and Burton Watson).


About Michael Patton

I am a poet, novelist, and fabulist...A new mythologist, a peace miller, a dream worker...I don't qualify as an illustrator or photographer--I just "make pictures"...I have thirteen books available at amazon... I currently reside in northwest Arkansas, but have lived and worked all over the United States... I'm self-taught, for the most part--which is like searching for the right door in the dark. It's an on-going process.... I don't want to write MY story, I want OUR story, so that's what I'm studying: the human story: past, present, future, in its many aspects--including the spiritual. I'm proceeding at a slow crawl.... I don't see the inner world and outer world as separate. By learning about myself, I learn about others, I learn about my world.... Conversely, as I struggle to understand what I see OUT THERE, I learn about myself.... But to be clear: I don't claim any special understanding. I'm still purblind, still only half-awake.... After frustrating experience with the publisher of my first novel, I've published on my own, beginning with e-books, with plans to move into print and audio. Even video.... Along with a second novel, I've now published eight books of poetry. Each poetry book focuses on a theme. For instance, the collection GLORIOUS TEDIOUS TRANSFORMATION is about the slow difficult wonderful process of change.... In that book, as with all my work, I try to be accessible to a general audience, while also striving to achieve a certain literary quality.
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