Friday, July 01, 2005

Heraclitus of the Pre-Socratic Greece is best known for his famous 'paradoxical' quip: 'You can't step into the same river twice'. For Heraclitus the most real was a 'being' that was ceaselessly 'becoming'. The only thing, real and true, was change itself. Nothing was static, nothing remained stagnant. The cosmos was compared to a strung lyre or a stretched bow, constantly in a state of opposed forces, of dynamism, motion and war. For him, it was power, force or energy that overarched the true order of things, not simply matter.
There is a similar interesting paradox in the poetry of Basho, the Japanese Zen Buddhist of 17th century. He wrote Haiku poetry, of the evocative 3-line, 17 syllable form that resonates in the ear with dramatic rhythm. Following is an example:
An ancient temple pond: jump of a frog; the sound of water.
A solitary crow on a bare bough; evening in autumn.
Wild seas tonight; past Sado island stretches; The River of Heaven.
Basho's poetry too reflects that being or reality, calm and eternal, can contain things that are ephemeral, isolated and many. It is the interesting interplay of what appears as tranquil and permanent, and what jumps, of a sudden, at one - as the unexpected, ushering what is the unpredictably novel .

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