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Suzie Palmer

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Mind Travels of Ban'ya Natsuishi
by Suzie Palmer   
Rated "G" by the Author.
Last edited: Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Posted: Tuesday, July 28, 2009

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This article is from a book called 'The Poetic Achievement of Ban'ya Natsuishi, which is a full-scale critical analysis of the haiku world of Ban’ya Natsuishi - its philosophy, symbolic language, chief tenets based on his haiku collections, and written by eminent authors in the field…'... (I am more than honoured to be one of those authors).

Mind Travels of Ban'ya Natsuishi  

Ban'ya Natsuishi writes haiku that moves beyond customary restraints and perceptions from the tradition of only seasonal, natural themes. His muki-haiku—seasonless poem style, paints Natsuishi’s promptings into pictures, which embrace the philosophical images in everything, and the mind is able to roam, to contemplate the wider nature of us

On the way home
I met a friend
and heard a prayer
Natsuishi’s haikus from the first half of The Endless Helix are like prayers when written this manner: a whisper of reverence on the wind, softening and shaping the soul. 
Walking is philosophy’s
best friend --
voices from the clouds
Natsuishi presents us with reflections to take with us wherever we are! Like this one, his words echo in our mind, reminding us of our connection with nature, the playful way we can interact with everything around us as we would our best friend… walking together, unravelling the meaning of life.
The sleeping woman
is not here -- she swims
with tropical fishes
The picture Natsuishi conjures up with this haiku is immediately seen. The woman sleeping before our eyes is really not there; her mind is away, dreaming of swimming with tropical fish. This haiku beautifully captures the all-expansive power of the mind over the limited confinement of the body.
Under the scorching sun
I have forgotten
how to love myself
A real life haiku! How many of us have forgotten how to love ourselves during the trials and tribulations of life. The burning sun, the grind of daily life, can zap our innate love for living, our sense of well being, and even goodwill for others. This is a wonderful ku reminding of our humanness within this world. 
Short poems—away from the succinct haiku style, still holding haiku characteristics—fill the second half of Endless Helix. Natsuishi shares his personal dreams both recent and from childhood, which inspires readers beyond the pivotal point of haiku brilliancy and profundity. The beauty of writing haiku is incorporated into the following dream, highlighting it as the spice of life, which is all we need to rest our heads!
A small room
With sand on the floor by the window,
a bush to the right,
a tube to the left.
We sleep well in this room,
write good haiku poems.
We don’t need books.
We don’t need a house.
‘Each moment contains one hundred messages from God’, Rumi said, and haikus are a wonderful medium to capture some of these impressions. Natsuishi expounds on this saying, ‘Haiku catches not only one moment, but more than two. Each moment is either a symbol or a metaphor of other moments’. His interpretations take in the entire scope of haiku possibility, exemplified in the Flying Pope, limitless in his capacity to express… taking us to the mystical realm of our intrinsic connection to all things—even a dewdrop. To karma and reincarnation; politics; religion; victory and loss; emotions; compassion; ethics; non-ethics; humour; aging; and imaginations…listing some of the themes embedded in the journey Natsuishi invites us into the illusion of consciousness. A flight sometimes visiting illusions that dive into more sombre truths and possibilities    
The reason why                                                         After his death
the Pope flies:                                                            still sick
a dewdrop                                                                   the Flying Pope
After winning the Nobel Prize                                  Still in a coma
the Flying Pope                                                          the Flying Pope
lost                                                                               lands on the ground
Flying Pope                                                                  The Flying Pope
Apologizes to                                                               at long intervals
the thousand-years-old cedar                                   pulls up a gravestone
Natsuishi describes the Flying Pope as you and me, ‘a symbol of the 21st Century. The old West is ruling the whole world, sometimes, bringing us disasters in the name of god or the good, for example, the Iraq War.  We are meaningful as well as meaningless.’
‘The Flying Pope was accidental’, Ban'ya Natsuishi says.  ‘One day, in a dream he said to himself: "soratobu hoo" (flying pope).  Then, he began writing the series without thinking what it really meant’… Therefore, we are free from deep, lengthy analysis, driven also to find the meaning within our own resonance and interpretations! Or no meaning at all, if we choose!
Once in a while
he swims in the Galaxy
the Flying Pope





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