Where there are humans

by Kobayashi Issa

English version by Lucien Stryk and Takashi Ikemoto
Original Language Japanese

Where there are humans
You'll find flies,
And Buddhas.

-- from A Box of Zen: Haiku the Poetry of Zen, Koans the Lessons of Zen, Sayings the Wisdom of Zen, Edited by Manuela Dunn Mascetti / Edited by Timothy Hugh Barrett

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Commentary by Ivan M. Granger

This haiku has me chuckling.

That's what is so infuriating and wondrous about this creature we call the human being. While a deer is utterly and profoundly a deer, and a lion a lion, every human carries the whole menagerie of earth and host of heaven in tow.

I'd just add that, to the Buddhas, the flies too are Buddhas. And so are the humans... So where exactly does that leave us?


PS- I want to thank you all for the many wonderful responses I received to Wednesday's poem and commentary. There were too many messages for me to respond to them individually, but I have been reading all of your emails and blog post comments, and I am moved by how many of you felt inspired to send me stories from your own personal journeys and experiences. It is magical the many ways the human soul unfolds.

Recommended Books: Kobayashi Issa

The Longing in Between: Sacred Poetry from Around the World (A Poetry Chaikhana Anthology) Zen Poetry: Let the Spring Breeze Enter The Enlightened Heart: An Anthology of Sacred Poetry The Poetry of Zen: (Shambhala Library) Haiku Enlightenment
More Books >>

Where there are