Wednesday, June 2, 2010


Santoka Taneda (1882-1940) was one of the most famous and influential haiku poets in twentieth century Japan. I was introduced to Santoka by my Zen teacher Nonin Chowaney. Santoku's life was very harsh and was no ordinary monk.

When he was eleven his mother committed suicide and his father was a philandering drunk. With this type of father, Santoka also became an alcoholic at an early age and helped ruin the family business...a sake brewery. Santoka's brother also committed suicide and Santoka's marriage was a failure.

Much of his poetry stemmed from this life of raw emotion and a deep sense of suffering. Here is some of Santoka's poetry.

"Just as it is -
It rains, I get wet, I walk."


"Begging, I accept
The blazing sun."

Santoka was a wanderer. His taste of loneliness was strong.

"No path but this one-
I walk alone."

"This straight road
Full of loneliness."

And he was also content at times:

"Aimlessly, buoyantly,
drifting here and there,
Tasting the pure water."


"Well, which way should I go?
The wind blows."

What Santoka has done for me is reconfirm that life goes beyond our likes and dislikes. To look at all entities with detached awareness, feel it, see it and live it. Just watch and be what it is...whether it is comfortable or uncomfortable.

To learn more about Santoka, just Google it...or go to the and look up Volume 17, Issue 3, Fall of 2007. Nonin might have it in his archives.

Hands palm to palm,

pic of statue of Santoka by toyotome/flickr

1 comment:

  1. I know a lot of people who are in to haiku. Don't know why, but I don't get it at all. Maybe I will when I grow up. ;-)