02 Daily Read:

Haiku by Issa…

… one about a staring contest with a very large frog… this is a famous one i think… i look up the cultural significance of frogs and find an article on the usc.edu website that has this to say about frogs in Japanese culture…

In Japan, the frog is usually seen as a symbol of good fortune associated with magical powers. Because the Japanese word for frog is “kaeru”, which is pronounced in the same way as “return”, travelers carry a small frog amulet with the intent of returning safely home.1

another article on frog symbolism confirms the above and adds the moon as an association with frogs, the three legged frog and the moon, the three phases of the moon…

… the frog is associated with rainfall and good harvests, and is a symbol of spring, the seasonal reference in the poem… that the artist has a staring contest with the frog presents a kind of stand off moment… is it reluctance to pursue a spiritual journey?… is it a latter stage in life confronting youth?…

… another poem about being a devout Buddhist while killing mosquitos… Buddhism argues respect to all creatures, even the annoying ones… some sects can barely walk through the landscape for fear of killing something unwittingly… yet, there are annoying creatures that can actually make us sick… we kill them regardless of our devotions… mosquitos are a spring-summer reference… the poem perhaps about spiritual journeys having difficulties…

here is an article about insects and Japanese culture that is more general in nature…

02 The Daily Read:

… yesterday i found and downloaded a book on animals in Issa’s poetry… i was expecting a book about animals as symbols of the culture… it turned out to be a book about animal ethics and what Issa has to teach us about treatment of animals… i believe that animals feel and think more than commonly given credit for, that one should always handle them with respect… i regret killing ants on the kitchen counter… i cause to be killed, or in some cases, kill animals to eat… so i am not that interested in the idea that we should never kill animals, that it is unethical to do so…

… Issa was a Buddhist1, and worried about the karma of killing insects, yet he did kill insects… my perception is that Buddhism respects all life…

… nature is constructed such that one animal is food for another… it’s a cycle of life… humans perhaps have reached the place where they think about the consequences of their actions and are capable of offering respect to animals, even as they kill them… Native Americans are thought by many to have had this down… one takes only what one needs to survive… one takes with honor and respect… one gives thanks for what one is able to take… this is an ethics of resource treatment i can get behind… i am mindful of the book Braiding Sweetgrass, by Robin Wall Kimmerer in which the Native American attitude towards natural resources is laid out in full…