August 10: 1-5: The Technique of Finding the Divine in the Common (Found Haiku: Psalms)

(See this post for an explanation of what’s going on here.)


“This is a technique that seems to happen mostly without conscious control. A writer will make a perfectly ordinary and accurate statement about common things, but due to the combination of images and ideas and what happens betwen them, a truth will be revealed about the Divine. Since we all have various ideas about what the Divine is, two readers of the same haiku may not find the same truth or revelation in it. Here, again, the reader becomes a writer to find a greater truth behind the words.

incense unrolls

– Jane Reichhold, Writing and Enjoying Haiku



Jane played a terrible trick on me by adding a new technique in her book (Writing and Enjoying Haiku get it, read it). In addition to the 23 previously published in her online essay, she tacked on this one, which is a problem for me because in the strictest sense I don’t actually believe in any Divine.

I mean I believe that there are things in the universe that are a lot bigger and more important than piddly little human beings, but I don’t think they’re supernatural, or conscious, or in any way direct or guide any of the affairs of heaven or earth. I think that most of what there is to know about the universe we don’t, can’t, and will never know, and I am in awe of the unimaginable complexity of it all, but I don’t think that just because our tiny brains don’t understand it and can’t explain it we must invent some other entity that does understand it.

Anyway. Enough of my heathen metaphysics. I felt that if I wanted to complete this project, I was duty-bound to attempt to write some kind of haiku that referenced or implied the existence of some kind of divine entity. But I was utterly at a loss for how to do this. So I decided to cheat. (See, I told you I was a heathen.)

I turned to my trusty friend the Book of Psalms (King James Version), one of the world’s great literary achievements, reasoning that somewhere in there must be something that resembled a haiku in some way … right?

You tell me.


moisture …
turned into the drought
of summer
(Ps. 32:4)

out of the miry clay …
my foot
upon a rock
(Ps. 40:2)

deep calleth
unto deep …
the noise of waterspouts
(Ps. 42:7)

the noise of the seas …
the tumult
of the people
(Ps. 65:7)

blow up
the trumpet …
the new moon
(Ps. 81:3)

4 thoughts on “August 10: 1-5: The Technique of Finding the Divine in the Common (Found Haiku: Psalms)

  1. wow. those are awesome ku moment insights. now i gotta try…

    well. wait. first… i have to say, i got Jane’s book – Writing and Enjoying Haiku – last December and started working my way through it. however when i came across your blog i started reading her book through your blog. …not to worry, i’ll get back into her book. i just wanted to say that i’m enjoying her book through your blog too.

    a lighthouse
    this beacon of energy

    (from 365 TAO – #145 – Views)

  2. I am deeply – almost disfunctionally – spiritual. But as you, I do not believe in “The Divine” – nothing is beyond us.

    Here’s a(n almost random) haiku culled from the – often pragmatic, often personal – writings of Nichiren, of the Buddhist tradition:

    In the cold tonight,
    I think of what it must be like
    for you in prison

  3. Wrick and Lawrence — I really like both your examples. Especially yours, Lawrence: I do a lot better with concrete and human (or natural) than vague and spiritual.

    Wrick: Well, now that I’m done with that one section of Jane’s book I plan to move on and try some more of her other exercises, so you can keep it sitting on your shelf for a while longer if you want. 🙂

    Lawrence — I’m one of those hopeless people who doesn’t even understand what people are talking about when they say they’re spiritual. Especially if they don’t believe in spirit. I am definitely drawn to Buddhism more than any other religious tradition, primarily because (as I understand it, and please correct me if I’m wrong) it doesn’t insist on anyone believing in anything resembling the Divine or spirit, although it doesn’t object to anyone doing so either. I do think I need to learn to place less importance on human thought and to be more open to the mysteriousness of the universe, so if that’s spirituality I can get down with it.

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