Haiku originated in ancient China over 5,000 years ago. Thereafter, it became a highly valued written art form in Japan. Three primary groups – artists, Zen spiritual leaders and Samurai warriors practiced this art form of poetry.
There are numerous approaches and techniques to writing a haiku. The most traditional and most commonly used Japanese forms are: Senryu and Kigo. The word formats for both of these forms are expressed in 3 lines comprised of a specific number of syllables: “5-7-5”, 5 syllables in the first line, 7 in the second and 5 in the third, for a total of 17 syllables.
While both forms are written to express a thought or reflection, the Senryu is most often used to express a view about an everyday situation or a feeling one may be experiencing or reflecting upon. The Kigo on the other hand, essentially “paints scenery” with words that reflect nature (often seasonal) and commonly uses metaphors with hidden meanings.
Rather than following these forms, our focus will be to simply expand our vision of what we are seeing and feeling with greater ease, depth, clarity and grace – within the limits of the 5-7-5 style and its 17 syllables.
We will now briefly examine the use of haiku in ancient times (with an emphasis on the Samurai) and then examine why haiku are as relevant today as they were then.
The Samurai were trained to serve in and survive a form of combat that required great swordsmanship. Even more critical, was the development of the warrior’s mind to be fully present in the moment—at all times. Not to do so, meant certain death. Each Samurai was exceptionally disciplined and deeply committed to training his mind to clearly see the choices that lie before him, whether in battle or a simple, everyday circumstance. With this profound awareness, he was able to develop extraordinary anticipatory skills.
Each Samurai was trained by his masters in the art form of haiku for 3 primary reasons, as follows below. These reasons are the very same for you. Although you will not be trained to lop your opponent’s head off, your ability to be present, live with clarity and create stillness within, can all be vital keys to your business growth, happiness and problem solving.
Here are the 3 primary reasons for learning how to write a haiku:
1. Gain Clarity of Your Perspectives.
When you write a haiku, you learn to be more present to “what is”. When you are observing an event, situation or person, you will learn to think and write what you see in a brief, succinct manner. You will immediately learn to see when you are judging, complaining or criticizing and you will learn to see when your perception is out of “focus” with reality. By learning to see with your heart and feel with your mind, you will gradually become more present to “what is” rather that what it “should or could be”.
2. Gain Clarity of Your Feelings.
As you create your haiku, you will gain a keen awareness of your feelings. You actually become the “watcher or observer” of your emotions. You will see when you are creating or reacting to drama in your life. As a result, you will learn to simplify your life amid the complexities that we are so often drawn into.
3. Express Insights and Feelings with Clarity.
First, you will become adroit at simply identifying and expressing a mood or an emotion. You will learn healthier and more efficient ways to communicate in a succinct, clear, honest, creative and uninhibited manner. And finally, by learning to share these inner thoughts of your truth to your mentor, you will experience a deep inner trust and courage in expressing yourself to others.
The guide you just read is simply a descriptor of what haiku poetry is and what the practice of this art can do for you in your “warrior training”. Now it is time to take action and begin writing your first haiku. Simply pick any topic that comes to mind – from your greatest fear or pain, to an event or person that made you feel overwhelmed with joy and love. You will find that you write what you need to write about. Other than the disciplined path of 3 lines: 5-7-5 (17 syl-lables), there is no right or wrong way to write, nor a wrong message. “It is as it is” and it will evolve with your own sense of meaning and discovery.