For Basho wandering was a form of spiritual practice. His pilgrimages to religious sites became portals into a direct experience of the sacred. A haibun in The Narrow Road to the Deep North reads:-
‘In Yamagata Province, the ancient temple founded by Jikaku Daishi in 860, Ryushaku Temple is stone quiet, perfectly tidy. Everyone told us to see it. It meant a few miles extra, doubling back toward Obanazawa to find shelter. Monks at the foot of the mountain offered rooms, then we climbed the ridge to the temple, scrambling up through ancient gnarled pine and oak, gray smooth stones and moss. The temple doors, built on rocks, were bolted. I crawled among boulders to make my bows at shrines. The silence was profound. I sat, feeling my heart begin to open.
a single cicada’s cry
sinking into stone’
(translation found on – http://lukestorms.com/2007/12/17/the-narrow-road-to-the-interior/)
Of course it is not always necessary to clamber over rocks to come to an awareness of the sacred. Sometimes it is there, right in front of us, just waiting for us to open our eyes and notice.
“As we crossed the Colorado-Utah border I saw God in the sky in the form of huge gold sunburning clouds above the desert that seemed to point a finger at me and say, “Pass here and go on, you’re on the road to heaven.” ― Jack Kerouac, On the Road
A haiku by the wandering nun, Kikusha-Ni (1752-1826) speaks of a similar moment of transfiguring awareness:-
‘the spirit, the truth
of silent prayer –
just the moon on the road. ‘
This week’s prompt is to use these haibun and haiku as inspiration for your own haiku, tanka, haibun or haiga. Please create a pingback to your work or leave a link in the comment section below. Thank you. I hope you enjoy the prompt.