NotaBene е електронно списание за философски и политически науки. Повече за нас

This essay first appeared in David G. Lanoue, My Journal with Haiku Sprinkled in (, 2019). Joint publication with “Haiku world”


          —Anonymous Buddhist Nun

      —Ōtomo no Yakamochi (2)

            Over the next five hundred years renku continued to be written in the luxurious ambiance of the court in Kyoto, but members of other social classes also began to participate: samurai, merchants, commoners, and, most importantly for renku’s development, Buddhist priests. By the thirteenth century, a system of elaborate rules called fushimono controlled the repetition of certain words and themes—the medieval origin of the rules embodied in the Category Frequency and Spacing Chart that today’s renku poets follow (3). With these rules, renku began to evolve from an amusing literary game into a serious and capacious art form, requiring not only verses related to sexual love (koi) but expanding its scope to reflect, as contemporary renku master Shokan Tadashi Kondo calls it,  the “Mandala of All Creation.” At the same time, renku poets adopted another Buddhist concept: an aversion to retrogression. Repeating or lingering on the same images or categories of existence came to be understood not only as an aesthetic violation but as a spiritual failing: the poetic equivalent of becoming trapped in vicious cycles of suffering (rinne). The names of the medieval shapers of renku up to the thirteenth century are unknown, but in their determination to resist cycles of repetition and in their adoption of the Mandala of All Creation as a template for composition, there can be no doubt that they were Buddhists who intended to create a distinctly Buddhist form of poetic art. In fact, as Gary Ebersole argues in an important essay (4), renku became a Buddhist ritual designed to lead its participants and readers to experience deeply the transience of the universe in order to make possible their enlightenment.

5. 月花や四十九年のむだ歩き

tsuki hana ya shi jūku nen no muda aruki

moon! blossoms!

forty-nine years walking around

a waste


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