Haiku as a Meditative Practice

haikuIn the spring of 2015, I learned about Haiku from my 7-year old granddaughter Xylia.  I was so taken by the art form that I dedicated a page on this website to it.  Each Haiku I post is followed by the exhortation

Write a ‘holy sentence’ every day … none of us has a lock on truth and insight

I follow Franciscan Richard Rohr’s daily meditation that he posts every day from the Center for Action and Contemplation in New Mexico.  This week, Father Rohr focused on “Myth, Art and Poetry.”  He concludes each week’s meditation with a summary on Saturday morning that includes a ‘practice’ to encourage and help travelers like me to better understand the week’s thoughts and to incorporate them into our daily lives if that is what we choose to do.  This week’s ‘practice’ is Haiku.

From Richard Rohr’s daily meditation on Myth, Art and Poetry ….

“In The Cloister Walk, Kathleen Norris writes, “Poets understand that they do not know what they mean, and that is their strength. . . . Writing teaches us to recognize when we have reached the limits of language, and our knowing, and are dependent on our senses to ‘know’ for us.” Haiku is a short form of Japanese insight poetry, a simple way of communing with nature. As with writing and reading other poetry, haiku can open the heart and mind to non-dual consciousness and to immediate encounter with Presence.

“Creating haiku requires discipline and conciseness, focusing on just a single moment or movement and a couple juxtaposing elements. A haiku is a little sliver of concentrated reality. There’s no room for parenthetical, extraneous material–all the if’s, and’s and but’s. You must leave space for the imagination to fill in the gaps.

“Here are two different translations of a frog haiku by Matsuo Bashō (1644-1694):

  • An old pond
  • A frog jumps in–
  • Sound of water.
  • (Geoffrey Bownas and Anthony Thwaite)

  • pond
  • frog
  • plop!
  • (James Kirkup)

“I invite you to try writing a haiku as a way of being intimately present to reality. Don’t worry about making a perfect poem or following the rules. Many English haiku poems consist of 17 syllables in three phrases of 5, 7, and 5 syllables. But however the words emerge, let the process of creating the poem break you open to a deeper knowing, beyond definition and description to experience.

“Find somewhere you can sit undisturbed while paying close attention to something in nature–a flower, tree, sunrise, rock, rain. Observe the object without words or analysis. Experience being here, in this moment, in this space. Listen for the essence of being, communicated wordlessly to you.

“After some time in silence, jot down a few words and phrases. Play with the way the words sound, speaking them aloud, rearranging them, letting go of unnecessary words. Allow the poem to flow from your unmediated encounter of God’s presence within nature.”

I invite you to share your Haiku with Xy and me on this website.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *