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Teaching from the haiku Master Basho

By: John McQuade

Feb 17, 2020




“Go to the pine tree if you want to learn from the pine tree or to the bamboo if you want to learn from the bamboo. And in doing so you must leave your subjective preoccupations with yourself. Otherwise you impose yourself on the object and do not learn. Your poetry issues of its own accord when you and the object have become one – when you have plunged deep enough into the object to see a hidden glimmering there. However well phrased your poetry may be, if your feeling is not natural – if the object and yourself are separate – then your poetry is not true poetry but merely your subjective counterfeit.”

This teaching can be understood in a “Zen” way and a contemplative way. The two ways support one another but have slightly different inflections and orientations. I have written a contemplation on these ways with this teaching, but it might be of more value for you to engage this contemplation.


Here are a few “hints” and some resources for this contemplation.

The Zen way might focus on “when you and the object have become one” “if the object and yourself are separate” This is Samadhi. The non-dualism (within dualism). Not a dissolve into One but as the Zen’s say, “not two”. The whole passage and teaching can be understood from this View.


For resource on the Zen way with haiku consult Robert Aitken’s “Zen Wave”

The contemplative way might focus on “plunged deep enough into the object to see a hidden glimmering there”. How is it with this “plunging”? And the “hidden glimmering”? One way in with the “hidden glimmering” is the teaching on drala. The whole passage can be understood from this View.


For resource on the contemplative way consult the drala section in Heart of Photography and chapters # 12 and 13 in Chogyam Trungpa’s “Shambhala: Sacred Path of the Warrior”

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