and now for something completely different…

One of the joys of helping out at Maitreya Centre was the occasional outbreak of serendipity.  It was extraordinarily serendipitous that on the very first day that the centre opened, a certain Bill Wyatt wombled in to offer his good wishes and his services. Bill Wyatt is such a modest, unassuming and humble person that it was not until much later, and circuitously, that I learnt that he is one of the finest and most respected haiku poets in the world today. And he is a Buddhist too, from the Soto Zen school, being the first Zen Buddhist monk to be ordained in the UK, way back when. That first day he was so welcoming, so full of delight that a new Buddhist centre had opened up just round the corner from where he lived, and he pitched in with a paintbrush to help us with the decorating that we had already launched into. Over the years that followed, my meetings with him, albeit brief encounters that they were, were always a source of joy, as I bathed in his warmth and wit. I shall never forget that memorable evening when he and I joined forces with other local poets to put on a poetry evening within the centre that was very warmly appreciated by all who attended. That was when the full power and beauty of Bill’s haiku hit home for me, and I can do no more than recommend that you read his haiku to find out for yourself  just what I mean. Haiku can, I think, be seen as a perfect medium for condensing the essence of dharma into as few words as possible, and the best haiku are objects for meditation in themselves. On re-reading Bill’s haiku many times, I now realise that Bill has a very deep and profound understanding of dharma. Yet Bill never once preached any dharma at me in any of his conversations with me. If  you want to know a little bit more about Bill Wyatt and his haiku, I recommend this interview with him: http://haibuntoday.blogspot.co.uk/2008/05/washing-jade-in-muddy-water-bill-wyatt_27.html. Bill recently sent me a small volume of his latest collection of haiku –  a great kindness in itself – so I will give  a little selection of his haiku from that collection:

 

A layman who lives

like a monk – that’s me goofing off

down dusty spring lanes

 

Dodging the raindrops

I swallow a rainbow –

first autumn shower

 

A cloud in trousers

that’s me – gathering seashells

on rainbow wheels

 

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