"Old Pond" by Bashō
furuike ya kawazu tobikomu mizu no oto
An old silent pond...
A frog jumps into the pond,
splash! Silence again.
This poem is interesting to me on several levels. Firstly the poem allows me to imagine, from such small description, the scene, as if I was Bashō, standing in front of this old pond, watching the frog disturb the water and the silence. I feel some empathy with this poet, who lived in 17th century Japan, and wrote haikus. I feel partially able to see as he sees, and gain some part of his world view.
Secondly, the image of the frog jumping into the pond, disturbing the silence, reminds me of the sudden disruption that a thought can have on a still mind. Perhaps some small stress can enter one's conciousness and disrupt one's equilibrium, perhaps even setting off ripples and echoes of the thought. The poem however conveys the power of equilibrium to bring back to balance and find silence again, which perhaps represents the ability of the mind to find stillness. Mindfulness or yoga practice might suggest that stillness of the mind is found through concentrated attention to the present moment.
Thirdly, I am fascinated by my mind, when I notice what it is doing, reading the poem. It is able to create an entire scene based on 17 syllables of information. It has populated the pond with algae and water lillies, and surrounded it with old worn moss covered stones. It has given the scene a time of day, late afternoon, with the sun low in the sky. There is a smell in the air of damp. I am aware of the stillness and silence, and watch the brown frog, as long as my hand, jump into the water. I suspect you have had an entirely different image, or maybe none at all. My mind then jumps with relative ease to comparing the scene to stressed thinking. Whilst this is interesting to me, engaging, none of it is particularly real. But the instant I notice the actions of my mind, I step into the present moment, and smile at myself.
I'd love to hear what thoughts you noticed whilst reading this poem.
Our next workshop, "Getting a Handle on Stress" uses mindfulness, yoga and ACT principles. It takes place on May 16th. For more information and to book, please visit our Clarity Workshops page.