KOAN and Haiku (02)


Koan and Haiku (02) - 公案と俳句 - DREAMS

one single rose
between my weeds -
dream of enlightenment

In Buddhism the greatest dream of all is the dream of attaining enlightenment.

.. .. .. Dogen Zenji:

In spite of this knowledge of nonduality,
flowers fall always amid our grudging,
and weeds flourish in our chagrin.

Read this wonderful essay about Dreams in Buddhism.
Dreams within Dreams / Mark T. Unno

Myoe Shonin (1173-1232)
was a high-ranking monk of the Kegon Sect of Buddhism and was active in the beginning of the Kamakura period.
He recorded his dreams for forty years from the age of nineteen through fifty-eight (1191-1230), because he believed that dreaming is a type of learning. The record that he made is
Yume no ki 夢記 (Records of Dreams).

. Myoe Shonin 明恵上人 (1173-1232) .


A Taoist Meditation
.. .. .. .. ablution

Washing at dawn
Rinse away dreams.
Protect the gods within,
And clarify the inner spirit.

Rinsing away dreams is a way of saying that we must not only dispel the illusions and anxieties of our sleeping moments but those of our waking ones as well. All life is a dream, not because it isn’t there, but because we all project different meanings upon it. We must cleanse away this habit.


Tilling Land (Painting)
Kim Hong-do (1745 - 1806?) Choson Dynasty, 1796


......................... into HERE and NOW
the river and I

Gabi in Guilin China
Autumn Memories


A finger pointing to the moon

The laughing Hotei,
a monk in the Later Liang Dynasty (907 - 23 AD)

The nun Wu Jincang asked the Sixth Patriach Huineng,
“I have studied the Mahaparinirvana sutra for many years, yet there are many areas i do not quite understand. Please enlighten me.”

The patriach responded, “I am illiterate. Please read out the characters to me and perhaps i will be able to explain the meaning.”
Said the nun, “You cannot even recognize the characters. How are you able then to understand the meaning?”

“Truth has nothing to do with words.
Truth can be likened to the bright moon in the sky.
Words, in this case, can be likened to a finger.
The finger can point to the moon’s location.
However, the finger is not the moon.
To look at the moon, it is necessary to gaze beyond the finger, right?”

source : Referecne

Matsuo Basho said, we should see the moon,
not the bejeweled finger pointing at the moon.

(at least his Western interpreters say so).

“A haiku is like a finger pointing to the moon.
If the finger is bejeweled, we no longer see the moon.”

"the jewelled finger pointing to the moon"
"like jewels on a finger pointing at the moon"


(the finger points to the moon, the fool sees only the finger)

月をさす指 (finger pointing to the moon)

I am still looking for a Japanese quote of Basho with the "bejeweled" and wonder which words he might have used.

Thinking of a samurai or monk/priest of the Edo period with a "bejeweled finger" seems quite difficult . . .



KOAN and Haiku (Part 01) .. 公案と俳句



Anonymous said...

I forwarded this page to one of my sons. He told me once that he was recording his dreams.

searching for meaning
his bedside notebook
gathers dust

Thanks for the post,


Anonymous said...

rose or weed... all are Buddha

It is paradoxical that we discriminate a shrine from a dung pile?

Is it possible to dream of enlightenment?

If memory serves ... there is a koan about a cat's death and andals
on top the head?



anonymous said...


it definitely was Hackett who wrote about “the bejewelled finger pointing at the moon” in his book, Zen Haiku and Other Poems.

No one would have worn jeweled rings in Basho’s day. It is not the custom of Japanese to wear rings with kimono even now.

Carmen Sterba