On Haikus And Zen

I love Haikus. I love them so much that I even made a tumblr about it. What is it about haikus that a lot of people like it?

I thought about this specific problem for some time and how it relates to the world around us. Real haikus are about nature, but with the modern world we live in, where nature is increasingly consumed through digital interfaces, haikus can be emotional rather than about nature.

The thing about haikus is, they are short and easy to consume. And that doesn’t mean they have no depth. In fact, haikus have much more depth of meaning than normal prose in my opinion. The brevity of haikus makes them depend on the reader’s interpretation for the meaning. The meanings are quite deep once you can imagine yourself in the poet’s surroundings.

The fact that they are mostly about nature also helps haikus keep their lustre. Humans are drawn to nature at an inner level. We cannot exist without it, nor can we ever be fully separated from it. Haikus serve as an interface to explore the various faces of nature through the eyes of a poet.

Here’s one of my favorite haikus, written by Basho.

An old silent pond… 
A frog jumps into the pond, 
Splash! Silence again.

As you can see, even the most mundane of events in nature can feed a poet’s imagination.

Haikus are short, they are filled to the brim with meaning and yet, they are open to the reader’s interpretation; this is what I think makes haikus tick.

But haikus have more to them. Haikus are like the Zen master. They speak cryptically, use very little words and are concise, yet have tons of meaning in those words. Zen, the way of life and haikus are related, in how we picturise still water to be peaceful. A life of zen is lived exactly how a haiku is written.

It doesn’t involve showing, it involves observation, not more sight. It does not involve speaking, it involves listening to everything around you. Haiku poets have a certain level of almost spiritual existence, where they can just be and observe everything around them at a molecular level.

Zen involves a bit of detachment from the physical world, a state where trivial matters can’t affect the integrity of the person. Haikus also involve a bit of detachment, to observe nature as a whole, and write about a small part of it, which also provides a window into the larger part of it.

This haiku will help end this short post on a high note, I believe.

Silent rock upon
A hill, silent no more, as
Thunder claps above.

What do you think about haikus or poems in general? Do you love poems? Do you write poems? If you’re feeling lucky, please check out Zen Of Haiku, a new tumblr I started to share haikus I (hope to) write daily.

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