mountain tasting

I am reading the haikus of beggar-poet-monk Santoka Teneda, a book prettily entitled Mountain Tasting.  While the idea of a wandering poet is inherently, romantically attractive to me, it made me uncomfortable the thought of living (albeit very simply) a life so individualistic. In his words.

Sake, Zen and Haiku

Days I don’t enjoy

Any day I don’t walk

Any day I don’t drink

Any day I don’t compose haiku.

Apparently, one Japanese (probably hardworking) journalist also felt somewhat ambivalent to this approach and commented “If everyone lived like you, society would be in big trouble.” Santoka smiled and said “I’m one of society’s warts, its true. A big black wart on the face is hideous but a small one is no problem. Sometimes people have affection for their little blemishes. Please think of me like that.”

There is a difference between simple individualism and the self-actualization/achievement-driven one. Maybe you can be happy thinking of yourself as a wart, you probably derserve that contentment.

I don’t know if one could have written this withoout a commitment to rootlessness.

As muddy water flows

It becomes clear.


If it shines, it bleats

if it is cloudy, it bleats

the single goat

and my personal favourite

Now I stand here

Where the ocean’s blueness

Is without limits.

At the end of the book, though, I don’t know if I don’t understand haiku or don’t understand him.

lapland is where all people are happy

i see a lot of wheelchairs out today in families celebrating mothers and grandmothers.

it is not something my mother encourages. she spends today watching the snow queen.  the dvd series is actually a gift from my friend but i have to watch it in little bits and pieces because the main characters are self-centered beyond belief.  it starts with the hero falling off a snow-topped cliff in finland.

the guy, who is a math genius, blames himself for winning an olympiad gold medal, the loss of which led his best friend to kill himself. brooding about his guilt, he drops out of school, bums around as a boxer and abandons his mother who is so proud of him that she sleeps with his medal in her hand. years later, he meets his best friend’s sister, a spoiled but pretty girl who kicks shoe salesmen and falls in love with her.  when she dies (of cancer, of course), he leaves his mother again and flies off to finland where he contemplates his dreary fate at the top of a snow-covered cliff. he finally decides not to jump.  not because he thinks of the people who loves him and are still supporting him but because it is the last thing he could do for the girl.

i give your words back to you, says the princess as she reaches enlightenment before her untimely death, stay alive because life is good.

my mother, is, needless to say, aghast.

if it is the lot of mothers to love and lose her children, it does not mean much to say – happy mother’s day and i love you. but it needs to be said someday, somewhere, nonetheless.