02 Daily Read:

Haiku by Issa…

… six poems… none of them grabs me… maybe the one about one fly, one human and a large room… flies are annoying… Issa seems to have written a lot about flies… in searching for the cultural meaning of flies, nothing much comes up… an article in Kyoto Journal sites Issa as a major writer on the fly situation… i read the following poem a number of days ago…

やれうつな蠅が手をすり足をする

yare utsuna hae ga te wo suri ashi wo suru

No, not that fly!

It wrings its hands,

its feet, imploringly.1

… about which the author of the Kyoto Journal article says…

 Among the hundreds of poems written by Japanese authors about flies and their vexed hunters, the most famous —there’s a whole book about its long genealogy and vast progeny — is without doubt the one written by Kobayashi Issa (1763–1827):2

… i wonder why Issa had such a preoccupation with flies?… i am not sure that the straightforward answer, that they are ubiquitous and utterly annoying, is the best answer… i think one needs to look to what the spiritual purpose of flies are in a religion like Buddhism, to remind one that being in the moment is important, but not always likable… and that compassion is often difficult…

… another article in Tricycle, a Buddhist publication… about compassion, about flies… a quote from it…

Compassion in all its flavors is woven through the enormous canon of Buddhist thought. Its root meaning is “to suffer with.” We are able to feel compassion toward those beings who look like us and those who are most familiar. (These are not the same thing; dissimilar creatures can be deeply familiar, as we know from our time spent with dogs, with horses—even lizards.) At what point do we extend this circle past what is known, past what looks like us? At what point do we suffer with what is completely strange? And how far must that circle extend before it includes the sheep bot fly?3

… well, it seems after all, there was something to pay attention to in the morning’s poems…