The Zentao Project

UngovernableI’ve been doing a daily haiku for a couple of years now. Every morning I try to get down the thoughts that are foremost in my mind.

I call it “Zentao” because that was Zen, but this is Tao.

Since the election, a lot of those haiku have had political elements. Like this one, which I came up with for New Year’s Day:

Imagine new ways
to be. Find allies. Make plans.
Change things together.

And here’s one that expresses why I feel the need to write about the problems I see:

If I can grasp and
explain problems well enough,
people will fix things.

Yes, I know that’s not particularly rational. It’s never worked yet, but I still feel compelled to try.

Here are a few from days when I felt particularly frustrated:

I hate horror flicks,
but each day’s news reminds me
that I live in one.

James Baldwin’s writing
remains all too relevant.
And that breaks my heart

Stupidity still
trumps understanding, knowledge.
Not yet civilized.

I’ve said for years that the human race isn’t civilized yet, but I wish we’d stop trying to prove it on a daily basis.

A lot of the time I come up with the best ways to act. I’ve been drawing on my Aikido background and reading a lot about effective civil resistance, and both of those things underlie these haiku:

Move to the right place
at the right time to respond,
and take right action.

The teachings of both
O Sensei and Dr. King
help civilize us.

My favorite sign:
“Become Ungovernable.”
Block evil. Build good.

Internal training:
Change yourself to change the world
(and throw your partner).

To live free, we must
live connected with others.
We’re not here alone.

Feel all your anger.
Then find your center, get calm,
And go forth to act.

Of course, I’m also a writer:

To save life on Earth,
we need to change many things.
Start with metaphors.

I want to know all
about this vast universe.
Impossible goal.

Dystopic stories
are warnings, not action plans.
We can’t acquiesce.

And I have hope:

So much work to do
but people are rising up.
Now to do it right.

Meanwhile, there are the small joys that make life worth living:

A long-eared rabbit
bounds through the grass, up the hill.
Oh, to feel such joy.



The Zentao Project — 4 Comments

  1. Wonderful how expressive these haikus are.
    That second one gave me a real shock of recognition: yes, that’s me! in a way that I hadn’t realized or thought about before.

    • Yes. A very useful practice, I’ve found. And one I’ve been able to keep up, which is also good. Not every daily practice I try to put in my life stays with me.