Patricia Donegan, meditation teacher, author of Haiku Mind: 108 Poems to Cultivate Awareness and Open Your Heart, Haiku (Asian Arts and Crafts For Creative Kids) and soon out Love Haiku spoke to us on Hiroshima Day (August 6) about peace, inward and outward. She is seen here (on right) with Margaret Chula (author of What Remains which was launched at HNA).
After WWII Japan adopted Article 9 to ban military and nuclear weapons. Perhaps all countries will cultivate the sense to eventually adopt this as well. On a global scale it can seem insurmountable but we start with what is workable. We must foster peace within ourselves to create peace in the world. “Peace is not easy but it is choiceless.”
To meditate one does not flee but observes where one is. Meditation does not have as its goal niceness but being aware and at ease despite what may arise. Aggression and compassion are equal parts of us. One opens oneself to what will rise. That may be sadness, jealousy, fear, love or beauty. You don’t know what will spill out so it takes courage to look.
Thoughts and feelings are like clouds that continually rise, dwell and disappear, but past them there is a constancy of sky. We can watch ourselves and see the little furies and flurries from a different perspective. Teijo Nakamura (1900-1988), a woman haiku master from the line of Shiki, when asked about first principles of writing said the highest principle in haiku is to be honest with yourself. In meditation, one isn’t obliged to suppress oneself, correct nor to act out an emotion.
Inner struggle is a constant nature of humans. In the 1800s, Hosai OZaki wrote (relayed on p. 57 of Haiku Mind),
of a slanderous heart —
shelling the beans
Haiku is a chance to choose a peace path. Sometimes we are startled into awareness of perspective by life by accidental transcendent moments. We can choose to enter awareness as well at any time. For example, whenever we are stopped by a red light, we can choose to take a meditative pause from that opportunity and become aware of breathing and of being alive.
1) We can slow for several breaths to center ourselves.
2) We can recognize our interdependency and capacity for compassion
3) We can see clearly, forgetting self and appreciate the external.
Doing this practice is not suppressing self, not running from nor running after feelings, but slowing into this moment that is transitory. It is not a grabbing so much as a releasing of clinging. Being aware in this way decompresses us, allows one to be more spacious to others.
Whenever we see the sky it can act as a reminder of the largeness and constancy of sky. It reminds of the openness within us.