Chiyo-ni, Haiku Master and the Watermoon

Watermoon Guanyin, Sanyi, Taiwan

I also saw the moon

and so I say goodbye

to this world

Chiyo-ni

In Japanese poetry the moon is often a reference to enlightenment.  In this death poem by Buddhist nun Chiyo-ni, she expresses her final words to the world and her experience of awakening.  Is it a glimpse?  A continuous state of mind?

As one of the great haiku poets of her time, Chiyo-ni expresses a sense of wakefulness in all her poems with sublime beauty and metaphor.  She wrote her first poem at age six and spent her life devoted to the arts of 18th century Japan.

In my garden

starflowers bloom

come and see.

Chiyo-ni, age 6

While her choice to become a Buddhist nun came later in her life after the death of her husband, the temple near her home was purported to be a strong influence in her life.  Her devotion to the wonder of the world and freshness of vision is apparent in all her works.

Chiyo-ni studied in the tradition of Basho and is considered to be one of the great haiku masters of all time.  She studied with many masters in his lineage and is one of the few women recognized for her work in her lifetime.

Patricia Donegan and Yoshie Ishibashi translated her voice in 1998 with precision and care in Chiyo-no: Woman Haiku Master. While the book is already out of print and only available used or as a rare copy it is still sought after by those who love her work.

I’ve paired my photograph of the Watermoon Guanyin with her poem as the reference to the ephemeral reflection of the moon in the water is a commonly used metaphor in Buddhism to represent impermanence.  It seems the arts best captures the exquisitely luminous quality of our fleeting experience.

************************************************************

3dbuddha small_lzn

           THE FEMALE BUDDHA

          WORKSHOP

             Boulder, CO     Feb. 9-10, 2013      $185

             Sat. 9:30 – 12:30, 2 – 5, &  Sun. 9:30 – 1

Deborah will share stories & slides of Guanyin and we will connect the dots to her inspiration and our lives through personal reflection & sharing. Contemplations on the images & quotes in The Female Buddha: Discovering the Heart of Liberation and Love bring us closer to the wisdom and compassion of Guanyin.

Click here for more information.

www.thefemalebuddha.com