Basho's thoughts on...
• Introduction to this site
• The Human Story:
• Praise for Women
• Love and Sex in Basho
• Children and Teens
• Humanity and Friendship
• On Translating Basho
• Basho Himself
• Poetry and Music
• The Physical Body
• Food, Drink, and Fire
• Animals in Basho
• Space and Time
• Letters Year by Year
• Bilingual Basho 日本語も
• 芭蕉について日本語の論文
• Basho Renku, 芭蕉連句
• Women in Basho
• BAMHAY (Basho Amazes Me! How About You?)
• New Articles


Matsuo Basho 1644~1694

The only substantial
collection in English
of Basho's renku, tanka,
letters and spoken word
along with his haiku, travel
journals, and essays.

The only poet in old-time
literature who paid attention with praise
to ordinary women, children, and teenagers
in hundreds of poems

Hundreds upon hundreds of Basho works
(mostly renku)about women, children,
teenagers, friendship, compassion, love.

These are resources we can use to better
understand ourselves and humanity.

Interesting and heartfelt
(not scholarly and boring)
for anyone concerned with
humanity.


“An astonishing range of
social subject matter and
compassionate intuition”


"The primordial power
of the feminine emanating
from Basho's poetry"


Hopeful, life-affirming
messages from one of
the greatest minds ever.

Through his letters,
we travel through his mind
and discover Basho's
gentleness and humanity.

I plead for your help in
finding a person or group
to take over my 3000 pages of Basho material,
to edit and improve the material, to receive 100%
of royalties, to spread Basho’s wisdom worldwide
and preserve for future generations.

Quotations from Basho Prose


The days and months are
guests passing through eternity.
The years that go by
also are travelers.



The mountains in silence
nurture the spirit;
the water with movement
calms the emotions.


All the more joyful,
all the more caring


Seek not the traces
of the ancients;
seek rather the
places they sought.



Basho Spoken Word


Only this, apply your heart
to what children do


"The attachment to Oldness
is the very worst disease
a poet can have."


“The skillful have a disease;
let a three-foot child
get the poem"


"Be sick and tired
of yesterday’s self."


"This is the path of a fresh
lively taste with aliveness
in both heart and words."
.

"In poetry is a realm
which cannot be taught.
You must pass through it
yourself. Some poets have made
no effort to pass through, merely
counting things and trying
to remember them.
There was no passing
through the things."


"In verses of other poets,
there is too much making
and the heart’s
immediacy is lost.
What is made from
the heart is good;
the product of words
shall not be preferred."


"We can live without poetry,
yet without harmonizing
with the world’s feeling
and passing not through
human feeling, a person
cannot be fulfilled. Also,
without good friends,
this would be difficult."


"Poetry benefits
from the realization
of ordinary words."


"Many of my followers
write haiku equal to mine,
however in renku is the
bone marrow of this old man."


"Your following stanza
should suit the previous one as an expression
of the same heart's connection."


"Link verses the way
children play."


"Make renku
ride the Energy.
Get the timing wrong,
you ruin the rhythm."


"The physical form
first of all must be graceful
then a musical quality
makes a superior verse."

"As the years passed
by to half a century.
asleep I hovered
among morning clouds
and evening dusk,
awake I was astonished
at the voices of mountain
streams and wild birds."


“These flies sure enjoy
having an unexpected
sick person.”



Haiku of Humanity


Drunk on sake
woman wearing haori
puts in a sword


Night in spring
one hidden in mystery
temple corner


Wrapping rice cake
with one hands she tucks
hair behind ear


On Life's journey
plowing a small field
going and returning


Child of poverty
hulling rice, pauses to
look at the moon


Tone so clear
the Big Dipper resounds
her mallet


Huddling
under the futon, cold
horrible night


Jar cracks
with the ice at night
awakening



Basho Renku
Masterpieces

With her needle
in autumn she manages
to make ends meet
Daughter playing koto
reaches age seven


After the years
of grieving. . . finally
past eighteen
Day and night dreams of
Father in that battle


Now to this brothel
my body has been sold
Can I trust you
with a letter I wrote,
mirror polisher?


Only my face
by rice-seedling mud
is not soiled
Breastfeeding on my lap
what dreams do you see?



Single renku stanzas


Giving birth to
love in the world, she
adorns herself



Autumn wind
saying not a word
child in tears


Among women
one allowed to lead
them in chorus


Easing in
her slender forearm
for his pillow


Two death poems:


On a journey taken ill
dreams on withered fields
wander about

Clear cascade -
into the ripples fall
green pine needles




basho4humanity
@gmail.com




Plea for Affiliation

 

Plea For Affiliation

 

I pray for your help

in finding someone
individual, university,

or foundation - 
to take over my

3000 pages of material,   
to cooperate with me 

to edit the material,
to receive all royalties 

from sales, to spread

Basho’s wisdom worldwide,
and preserve for

future generations.


basho4humanity

@gmail.com

 



Home  >  Topics  >  Poetry and Music  >  E-18


Ride the Energy

6 Basho renku, 1 haibun, and 1 conversation about ki

Legend:
Words of Basho in bold
Words of other poets not bold

Basho told Doho:  

Poetry should ride the Energy. 
俳諧は気にのせてすべし. Haikai wa ki ni nosete subeshi.


Ki is the Energy  of Oriental medicine and martial arts, the "life force" or "energy flow" or as George Lucas called it: "The Force."  Basho speaks of “riding” this energy, as one rides a horse to greater speed and power. To ride the energy is to go with the flow, to become the flow. Those who ride horses, play a musical instrument, surf the waves, fly a kite, or practice a martial art or may best understand Basho’s meaning.

 

Doho gives us the conversation in which Basho spoke the words in bold  font:


Entering the Truth through Poetry,
we can nurture the energy, or kill it.
Once we kill the energy, we cannot ride it.
The master said,

 

“Poetry should ride the energy.
If you get the timing wrong, you ruin the rhythm.”

 

Haikai wa ki ni nosete subeshi. Aizuchi ashiku hyoushi o sokonau.
俳諧は気にのせてすべし。 相槌あしく拍子をそこなう。

 

This is to damage and kill the energy.
At another time, he said

 

“If you must suppress your own energy to write a poem, good.”

 

All that he taught was to coax, enliven, and nurture the energy.


Doho, who was an Instructor in the martial art of the spear, uses the word “kill” a lot; Basho never uses it.

To “suppress” the energy is not to stop or interfere with it, but to control it so it does not flood,

but still flows with rhythm, life and power;

 

To see how Basho himself rode the Energy in poetry, consider these two stanzas from the first of 300 sequences in which Basho participated. The year is 1666 and Basho is about 22. The first poet offers an elegant image of Japanese classical dance, and Basho takes that feeling into the world of children:


Hand of the dancer
quietly descends

More than appears
the small child obedient
to the Energy

 

The movement of the dancer’s hand expresses more, much more, than simply getting from up to down;

it expresses the dancer’s obedience to ki. The hand rides the Energy downward, as a surfer stays on the board even as the board drops and rises. Likewise the small child may not follow adult commands, but is obedient to that universal Energy. As the child at play “rides on the energy,” the poet follows and blends with the Energy to ride to the poem.


A Google search of the words “ride the energy” leads to this by the American dancer and musician Gabrielle Roth (1941-2012):

Ride the energy of your own unique spirit.

 

Roth believed and taught that dance heals the body/mind/spirit:

If you just set people in motion, they’ll heal themselves.

 

If we blend Basho with Gabrielle Roth, Dance, Tai’chi, child development, and Oriental medicine come together in the above stanza pair.  Here is another Basho stanza about the Energy of ki.:

 

Chaos rides
on Green at play with
the Energy

 

The Chinese sage Chuang Tzu taught that life developed in a four step process starting with “Chaos,”

the primordial void in many Creation mythologies.

From “Chaos” emerged “the Energy,” 

From Energy emerged “Form” or physical-ness

From “Form” emerged “Life”

And from “Life” emerged “Death.”

 

Basho’s stanza involves the first two steps in Chuang-Tzu’s creation tale: Chaos and Energy –

but Basho adds a new element which Chuang Tzu did not mention: “Green,” the primal invigorating force

of plant life which “Chaos” rides on while playing with “Energy.” All “Energy” comes from the Sun, so “Green” is chlorophyll, and we have a metaphor for photosynthesis. Photosynthesis began some billion years ago in a world without oxygen, within microscopic cyano-bacteria, sometimes called “bluegreen algae” (although they were not algae at all). The world without oxygen and without any visible life form could be described as “Chaos without Form or Life.” These bacteria contained a green substance which used sunlight to produce energy and oxygen. Eons of photosynthesis by cyno-bacteria added oxygen to the world allowing higher forms of life to evolve. Bacteria go on reproducingwithout ever dying, however life dependant on oxygen must eventually burn out, so we come to the final stage in Chuang Tzu’s cosmology. Obviously Basho did not know the science of biology, but that science was still occuring without his knowledge, so we can see that science in his words.

 

In his Sarashina Journal, Basho tells of a servant boy riding the Energy on a horse over steep mountain terrain.


Nine switchbacks in succession
as if we were trudging through the clouds.
Even those going on foot become
so dizzy our spirits wilt and we cannot steady our feet,
yet the servant showing no fear at all,
on the horse he sleeps asleep,
again and again we think he will fall,
from behind watching anxiously without limit.

 

His sense of balance is so fine no adult can conceive possible, so he must be a teenager. (If this kid were in our era, he would surf or skateboard.) He is not “sleeping, asleep” -- he has closed his eyes so, unlike Etsujin, Basho, and the other old fogies, he will not get dizzy from visual input. Showing no fear, no concern, is cool.


To the Heart of the Buddha
so must appear the floating world of humanity
and when we reflect in ourselves
upon transience swift and relentless,
the whirlpool of Naruto is without wind or waves.

 

The Straits of Naruto between Awa Province (Tokushima) and Awaji Island, are famous for powerful tidal whirlpools. From the adult point of view, the servant is in danger of falling, and this suggests the ephemerality of existence, everything passing away.But in reality the kid does not fall – he and the horse know what they are doing. He should be a symbol for stability, not for transience. When he goes surfing in the whirlpool of Naruto he has no ‘wind or waves’ in his mind so by “riding the Energy” he can maintain his balance in the midst of all that turbulence.

 

One famous in Kyoto
to exorcise my tumor

Base of Fuji
wearing conical hat
rides a horse

 

The man with the tumor is riding past Mount Fuji on his way to Kyoto (so he has a long way to go) where the well-known sorcerer will wave his hand – like Obi-Wan extracting suspicion from the storm trooper’s mind – to remove the tumor. This is what sorcerers do: shift to another reality where Energy can change Form and Life. Basho’s stanza is deliberately ambiguous; the subject can be either me or the mountain. As I ride past the base of the conical mountain with a conical hat on my head, either I bounce up and down from the movement of the horse, or the multimillion ton conical mountain moves up and down from the movement of my eyes. This is my horseback sorcery – Energy changing Form

 

Ki no Tsurayuki produced a similar vision in his Tosa Diary – according to the story, written by an 8 year old boy


As I watch
from the boat rowing by,
do the pines
know their foot-weary
mountains also move?

 

The eight year old mind wonders if the pine trees realize that the mountains underneath them move –

although that is an illusion caused by the motion of the boat. This is a question we all ask when

we are young, often when looking out the window on a train.

 

Wings flap in sequence
wild geese under moon,
Every mouth
shall sample this year’s
new sake

 

Geese fly in a V formation so the updraft from one bird lifts the bird behind, enabling the flock as a whole to conserve energy. Watching the ‘V’ of birds fly past the moon, Basho see a wave motion flowing through the two lines of the ‘V,’ an organizing principle or Energy the birds ride on. Rice is polished, steamed, and fermented with mold and yeast for a month to produce raw, rough-tasting ‘new sake.’ This must be aged for a year, a chemical force acting in every molecule to give a smooth taste Japanese drinkers enjoy. All the village men have gathered to sip the new sake from this year’s rice crop. Miyawaki sees in the stanza, “a moment of happiness in which satisfaction mingles with expectation.” This too is “riding the Energy.”


Over rinsed whites
lark sings to the sky

Girls only
to view blossoms
rise in a flock

 

Single layer cotton cloth has been rinsed and is hanging on a line to dry in the breeze; overhead a lark sings brightly rising to heaven. Japan idolizes the joyful sparkle of teenage girls -- as in J-Pop girl groups and it is interesting to see this consciousness in Basho 330 years ago. The flock of girls in their pretty robes, going to have fun, chatting and laughing with each other, complement the clarity and freshness of the first stanza. Clean white fabric, skylark, cherry blossoms, group of happy girls, all together get high on the Energy.

 

 

 

 

basho4humanity@gmail.com

 






<< Poetry in Basho Letters: (E-17) (E-19) Music and Song >>


The Three Thirds of Basho

 

 

I plead for your help in finding a person or group to take over my 3000 pages of Basho material, to edit and improve the presentation, to receive all royalties from sales, to spread Basho’s wisdom worldwide and preserve for future generations.

 

basho4humanity@gmail.com
Basho's thoughts on...
• Introduction to this site
• The Human Story:
• Praise for Women
• Love and Sex in Basho
• Children and Teens
• Humanity and Friendship
• On Translating Basho
• Basho Himself
• Poetry and Music
• The Physical Body
• Food, Drink, and Fire
• Animals in Basho
• Space and Time
• Letters Year by Year
• Bilingual Basho 日本語も
• 芭蕉について日本語の論文
• Basho Renku, 芭蕉連句
• Women in Basho
• BAMHAY (Basho Amazes Me! How About You?)
• New Articles


Matsuo Basho 1644~1694

The only substantial
collection in English
of Basho's renku, tanka,
letters and spoken word
along with his haiku, travel
journals, and essays.

The only poet in old-time
literature who paid attention with praise
to ordinary women, children, and teenagers
in hundreds of poems

Hundreds upon hundreds of Basho works
(mostly renku)about women, children,
teenagers, friendship, compassion, love.

These are resources we can use to better
understand ourselves and humanity.

Interesting and heartfelt
(not scholarly and boring)
for anyone concerned with
humanity.


“An astonishing range of
social subject matter and
compassionate intuition”


"The primordial power
of the feminine emanating
from Basho's poetry"


Hopeful, life-affirming
messages from one of
the greatest minds ever.

Through his letters,
we travel through his mind
and discover Basho's
gentleness and humanity.

I plead for your help in
finding a person or group
to take over my 3000 pages of Basho material,
to edit and improve the material, to receive 100%
of royalties, to spread Basho’s wisdom worldwide
and preserve for future generations.

Quotations from Basho Prose


The days and months are
guests passing through eternity.
The years that go by
also are travelers.



The mountains in silence
nurture the spirit;
the water with movement
calms the emotions.


All the more joyful,
all the more caring


Seek not the traces
of the ancients;
seek rather the
places they sought.



Basho Spoken Word


Only this, apply your heart
to what children do


"The attachment to Oldness
is the very worst disease
a poet can have."


“The skillful have a disease;
let a three-foot child
get the poem"


"Be sick and tired
of yesterday’s self."


"This is the path of a fresh
lively taste with aliveness
in both heart and words."
.

"In poetry is a realm
which cannot be taught.
You must pass through it
yourself. Some poets have made
no effort to pass through, merely
counting things and trying
to remember them.
There was no passing
through the things."


"In verses of other poets,
there is too much making
and the heart’s
immediacy is lost.
What is made from
the heart is good;
the product of words
shall not be preferred."


"We can live without poetry,
yet without harmonizing
with the world’s feeling
and passing not through
human feeling, a person
cannot be fulfilled. Also,
without good friends,
this would be difficult."


"Poetry benefits
from the realization
of ordinary words."


"Many of my followers
write haiku equal to mine,
however in renku is the
bone marrow of this old man."


"Your following stanza
should suit the previous one as an expression
of the same heart's connection."


"Link verses the way
children play."


"Make renku
ride the Energy.
Get the timing wrong,
you ruin the rhythm."


"The physical form
first of all must be graceful
then a musical quality
makes a superior verse."

"As the years passed
by to half a century.
asleep I hovered
among morning clouds
and evening dusk,
awake I was astonished
at the voices of mountain
streams and wild birds."


“These flies sure enjoy
having an unexpected
sick person.”



Haiku of Humanity


Drunk on sake
woman wearing haori
puts in a sword


Night in spring
one hidden in mystery
temple corner


Wrapping rice cake
with one hands she tucks
hair behind ear


On Life's journey
plowing a small field
going and returning


Child of poverty
hulling rice, pauses to
look at the moon


Tone so clear
the Big Dipper resounds
her mallet


Huddling
under the futon, cold
horrible night


Jar cracks
with the ice at night
awakening



Basho Renku
Masterpieces

With her needle
in autumn she manages
to make ends meet
Daughter playing koto
reaches age seven


After the years
of grieving. . . finally
past eighteen
Day and night dreams of
Father in that battle


Now to this brothel
my body has been sold
Can I trust you
with a letter I wrote,
mirror polisher?


Only my face
by rice-seedling mud
is not soiled
Breastfeeding on my lap
what dreams do you see?



Single renku stanzas


Giving birth to
love in the world, she
adorns herself



Autumn wind
saying not a word
child in tears


Among women
one allowed to lead
them in chorus


Easing in
her slender forearm
for his pillow


Two death poems:


On a journey taken ill
dreams on withered fields
wander about

Clear cascade -
into the ripples fall
green pine needles




basho4humanity
@gmail.com




Plea for Affiliation

 

Plea For Affiliation

 

I pray for your help

in finding someone
individual, university,

or foundation - 
to take over my

3000 pages of material,   
to cooperate with me 

to edit the material,
to receive all royalties 

from sales, to spread

Basho’s wisdom worldwide,
and preserve for

future generations.


basho4humanity

@gmail.com