I’ve recently taken to writing haiku. While I value all forms of creative and expressive writing, haiku had never been particularly appealing to me, from a writing standpoint, which was mostly due to my love of words and haiku being too short and succinct to embody all of what I wanted to say. But I’ve been learning more about the art of haiku, and developing a deeper understanding and appreciation of it. As I’m getting the hang of haiku writing, it’s becoming quite fun!

In reading online about haiku, a few things really resonated for me: R.H. Blyth, who was a well-known interpreter of Japanese haiku into English, explained haiku as “an open door which looks shut.” One definition of haiku said: a short poem recording the essence of a moment, keenly perceived, in which nature is linked to human nature. And another source whittled down haiku to three words: concision, perception, and awareness.

The art of haiku is not simply a matter of following a set pattern of syllables (5, 7, 5 as we’ve commonly translated it into English, though this can sometimes vary). Traditionally, haiku involves a juxtaposing of something nature/season related with something present tense/human world related. This is where I feel the art of haiku writing comes in. It’s not about penning any ol’ thing that comes to mind in the allotted structure of 5/7/5, it’s about relaying an insight or experience relating to the present moment – taken in this light, haiku is right up my alley :) Haiku is very relate-able and easily interwoven with a Zen-based practice.

I’m finding it a welcomed challenge to coalesce what I have to say in the simple structure of haiku. I figure that, as a lover of the Dharma and an aspiring Dharma teacher, if I cannot manage to offer what I have to say in a clear, precise manner, then I have more work to do in sculpting my experience and insights so that they may have the best chance of penetrating into the hearts and practice of others. Of course, haiku is a rather extreme and limiting way to offer full fledged dharmic teachings, but it’s affording me good practice in getting at the core of things.

Here are a few I’ve written in the last 2 weeks:

Gone is tomorrow
If we know not how to live
This moment, this is it!

Time moves well its pace
It goes neither fast or slow
It’s us that changes

Morning darkness sings
Savoring a lullaby
I sit in silence

In folds of beauty
All is revealed as it is
Nothing stays the same

Wait not for spring’s warmth
Revel instead in winter
Know well your mindscape

Morning candle burns
Its flame struggling to stay
No more time to waste

Folds of breath cascade
like tender drops of water
circulating, fresh

A crow speaks the truth
He sees things just as they are
Light and dark combine

Take ample solace
amid that which speaks to you
with a clear full heart

How lucky I am
How precious this one life is
I have everything

Breath rises and falls
Sun, moon, and crow do the same

Swift is the moment
Gone is the past without thought
Embrace nature’s way


As my husband and I were reading up on haiku together a few evenings ago, I started becoming interested in learning how to “properly” and “traditionally” engage in haiku writing, especially after making the observation that so many English haiku are written in neither the 5/7/5 pattern or the classic manner of involving nature and human nature. Then my husband offered a valuable insight, which I greatly appreciated. He said: It seems like it would be easy for people to become haiku snobs and get caught in adhering too strictly to the proper form. How true! While I am interested in learning more about haiku and am drawn to crafting them in a more traditional manner, it’s important not to lose sight of the unfolding process of writing haiku – to experience the art, and enjoy the full spirit they have to offer.

Happy writing :)

P.S If you have any haiku you’d like to share (yours or someone else’s) please share them with me in the comments section!

P.P.S Here’s one more haiku I wrote just this morning, after seeing the beauty of the full moon shining amid the tender hour of 5:00am:

Winter’s pageantry

frozen ground awash in light

full moon beaming clear

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