a small dead squerl
ready to become
- Anonymous (an young boy)*
Two awesome zen poems. They contrast with and complete each other at the same time. Basho says that all it remains from great soldiers' imperial dreams are summer grasses. However, maybe, he did not imply that there is something wrong with being summer grass. What I read in this poem is a love for simplicity. In the end, a summer grass blade or bush maybe as happy or happier than a soldier chasing glory. No fights, no struggle. All a summer grass bush has to do is enjoy the summer and grow towards the sun.
Writing about it, I can feel smell of grass exploding with life. And from the remains of dead soldiers and dead dreams, life come back strong.
The young boy’s poem is very ingenious too. It is more pleasant to human taste. I guess most of people would chose to become a rose instead of a bush of grass. However, this seems to be one fo the very roots of human suffering: picking and choosing. (For more great discussion on picking and choosing, see Treetop Zen Center Webpage article: The Ultimate Path is Without Difficulty. )
As Jianzhi Sengcan says in a poem:
The Perfect Way is only difficult
For those who pick and choose.
A rose does not choose to be a rose. A bush of grass does not choose to be a bush of grass. They are just what they are and live their lives along. The rose does not see itself in comparison to the bush of grass. The bush of grass does not compare itself to the rose.
The renowned poet Gertrud Stein said “A rose is a rose is rose.” We can also say a bush of grass is a bush of grass is a bush of grass. However, we may not be able to say: A person is a person is a person. We humans live in comparison. We live in comparison to other people, to what we used to be, to what we should be, to what we must be, to what we could be, to that we would be.
It is always the could-should-would game. It is always the picking and choosing game. And it is almost always a game of suffering. It is a battle and a struggle for glory. In the end, we die and become food for grass, for roses, for worms; beings that are happy just as they are.