Tao and words
The purpose of words is to convey ideas. When the ideas are grasped, the words are forgotten.
Where can I find a man who has forgotten words? He is the one I would like to talk to.
The Way of Chuang Tzu
The banner photoLooking north: Chesterman Beach, Tofino, BC. See Storm watching.
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Travel and wisdom
It is experience that is the ultimate teacher. That is why wise people travel constantly and test themselves against the flux of circumstance.
A Random Quote/Thought
"How can a blind man be a lookout?"
"How can an idiot be a policeman?!!"
Tag Archives: Aitken
In A Zen Wave, Robert Aitken calls it “probably the most famous poem in Japan.”
The old pond;
a frog jumps in —
the sound of the water.
It must surely be the most-translated of Basho’s haiku, or anyone else’s for that matter. In addition to Aitken’s rendering (above), there are another 30 translations available on this eclectic Website, plus Aitken’s commentary. And, for those with an insatiable thirst to drink from the pond, here is a sampling from my favorites:
Take your pick between the traditional or scholarly understanding. Donna Beaver and Alan Pizzarelli, starting at about 02:45 in the Haiku Chronicles podcast linked above, discuss the poem as “a direct observation of a moment in nature,” what Basho himself apparently intended to be “without ideas.” Or you may prefer Robert Aitken’s symbolic view — the pond as a “serene and potent” mind, waiting in zazen for the aural stimulus of the frog’s “plop” to trigger awakening.
I gravitate to the former perspective, often expressed as “just as it is” (from the Japanese sono-mama), or simply, “just so,” based on the discussion by James H. Austin in his monumental Zen and the Brain (Ch. 132). But put all that aside. Honestly, in this post I was just looking for an excuse to get this wonderful animated GIF back into circulation after its original host site got terminal link rot. And an excuse to use the title as a pun on “Joshu’s dog,” a famous koan (see third bullet on About).