Sunday, March 11, 2012

Basho on Ancient Caregiving

On the road from Palm Beach….

On this trip I’ve been sampling Kindle’s new short pieces of writing and read Jane Hirschfield’s wonderful essay on “The Art of Haiku” and Japanese haiku master, Basho.

Basho—poet, samurai, and Zen master—wrote and taught in the 1680’s. So when, in her essay, Hirschfield writes about his emotions struggles caring for family I sat up and said, “Wow…even then caregiving was hard.”

In describing his later years when he was caring for an ill nephew and was frequently sought out by more students and fellow poets for help (haiku in its Basho perfected form is a kind of spiritual/psychological process)…. Basho wrote:

“Crushed by other people’s needs, I can find no calmness of mind.” This from a Zen master! After the nephew’s death Basho shut himself off for a year to recoup his peace of mind and his own health.

Caregiver stress in the 1690’s. That helped me to see—again—that it is a human phenomenon—not a personal weakness or a feature of modern culture.

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