Wednesday, 10 June 2015


I opened my haiku book at random last night and came across this gem:

Holding the water
Held by it --
the dark mud.

(William Higginson)

And a short essay on it by Patricia Donegan:

The world "Rashomonesque" has become a part of the English language and a part of our postmodern culture of Einsteinian relativism. In Akira Kurosawa's film Rashomon, taken from the haiku poet Akutgawa's original short story, we are shown a robbery in a forest through the flashbacks of four different persons' versions of the incident; and at the end of the film we are left wondering what is the real truth of what happened, which then provokes us to question our own sense of reality, and everyone else's too. This well-known haiku addresses this dilemma - and yet leaves us with a feeling of embracing it all somehow: that we can hold and be held at the same time. It is leaping beyond dualistic thinking, and urging us to stretch our minds to see things from a wider view. It was the American expatriate and expert on Japanese culture Donald Richie, also an authority on Japanese film (especially Kurosawa), who said in an interview once that he didn't learn any "Zen enlightenment" form D.T. Suzuki (the promoter of Zen to the West), but he did learn "alternate ways of thinking," seeing things from multiple perspectives. And that would certainly suffice for most of us.

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