the guest, the host
the white chrysanthemum
The following is a commentary on the above haiku by Patricia Donegan, from her book, “Haiku Mind”:
High-tech cultures are moving at a speed unnatural to human beings, creating a wound of disconnection and discontentment deep within us. We are becoming creatures who can barely stand the sound of silence, of nothing happening. If we could but stop for a moment, if we could turn off the TV, computer, iPhone, or whatever gadget we are using, feel our breath moving through our lungs, smell the air, and see around us, we might be amazed by what we find. If we only do this five or ten minutes a day it could transform us. I remember, years ago in Korea in the Peace Corps, how I felt the first time I partook of the daily culture of “just sitting” together with friends in informal tearooms in Seoul, without saying a word; at first I felt quite nervous and bored, but when I was able to relax my mind and just be, it was a refreshing communion. This haiku depicts such a moment, yet a moment within the formal tea ceremony. Sen no Rikyu, the famed sixteenth-century Japanese tea master who was the founder of the art of tea and the ritualized tea ceremony of which silent communication is an essential part, coined the phrase, ichi-go, ichi-e, meaning “one time, one meeting”. This became an integral part not only of the Zen arts but of everyday culture: since each moment’s meeting of a person or even a flower is precious and fleeting, it is to be savored completely, perhaps best in silence.