Friday, January 30, 2009

Insect Compassion

I am reading an excellent book for children called Haiku: Learn to express yourself by writing poetry in the Japanese tradition by Patricia Donegan. It is part of the Asian Arts and Crafts for Kids series. I am studying it as part of my morning meditation ritual. Today I read that the Dalai Lama thought it was a good idea to help children learn compassion by teaching them to respect insects. Donegan says:

"Seeing and writing haiku is a way to practise care and compassion, and is a reminder to love nature as well as people. Haiku is a way to remember how everything is connected in our world, and if we feel connected, then we will not harm things, but rather care for them."

This is exactly how I feel. In my Beespeaker art classes we will be writing haikus about bees for this very reason.

I love this poignant haiku by Basho:

dying cicada--
not showing it
in its song

It reminds me of a poem my friend Sheena wrote in high school. I can't quote it precisely, but it was about aging and went something like this:

Damn these cobwebs
I will climb this tree anyway.

I couldn't forget that poem because of its expression of playful tenacity, but also because my friend died shortly after high school and never got to experience something she had imagined in her poem. Attention and imagination are the human qualities that compose a haiku. The rest is up to Nature, with a little bit of luck in there too.

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