The Haiku Mind

all is as it is
perfect in this moment
a dusting of snow

A few years ago, I attended a haiku writing workshop hosted by noted haiku poets Clark Strand and Priscilla Hardin-Lignori. The setting was quite conducive for the contemplative style of haiku, as it was held at Zen Mountain Monastery in Mt. Tremper, NY. The participants took part in the practices of the monastery and wrote many excellent haiku.

The main thing that I learned from that workshop was the development of what Clark Strand referred to as “Haiku Mind”, a way of experiencing the immediacy of the world that we are so intimately connected to and then expressing a snapshot of a particular moment in the form of a haiku.

Thinking in this manner was difficult for me at first. I would spend so much of my day thinking about anything other than what I was experiencing at any given time that the beauty surrounding me went unnoticed. Soon, I realized that this way of thinking, this way of experiencing life, was nothing more than an extension of the zazen meditation practice that I had been doing for some years. I can be a little slow on the draw sometimes…

In zen practice, one is encouraged to “take the practice off the cushion”, which means to experience the rest of the day in the meditative mindset that one has while meditating: clear mind, focused on the moment, grateful and compassionate. The development of Haiku Mind has helped me to learn to be appreciative of and more aware of the world around me, to carry this zazen mind into my everyday world.

I am not saying that I have it down pat by any means. Like zen, the development of Haiku Mind is a practice, and requires just that, moment by moment.

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