Not to feel that you feel,
not to know that you know,
but just to feel, just to know–
~ Br. David Steindl-Rast
In his book A Listening Heart: The Spirituality of Sacred Sensuousness, Br. David guides readers in an exploration of some aspects of a peak experience. He proposes an experiment in which we close our eyes and recall a major or minor peak of our past experience. Maybe it was “a moment on a mountain top…Or sitting on a fence-rail dangling your legs, not in boredom, not at all, but in utter absorption. Absorption into what? Into nothing; for nothing happened.” He goes on to reflect upon the fact that our peak experience is “an altogether unreflective moment,” writing “Only afterwards can I reflect on it and so talk about it. And what I am then inclined to say is something like ‘I was simply swept off my feet,’ or…’I had lost myself,’ This was all. But not quite all. For looking back I will also admit that at that moment of my Peak Experience I was more truly and more fully myself than at any other time.”
Through this exercise, Br. David suggests that “we have gained access to Haiku from within.” He writes, “If you have become aware that you are most truly yourself when you forget yourself; that in truly being alone you are one with all…you have discovered in your own experience the paradox in which Haiku has its roots.”
Today, we invite you to close your eyes and bring to mind a major or minor peak experience, referencing Br. David’s guidance above. Let it be a moment of utter absorption in which you “forgot yourself.”
Once you have relived this moment, notice what words begin to arise in your recall of this peak experience. With this experience fresh in your heart and mind, experiment with writing a haiku.
We invite you to reflect on your experience in a notebook or in the reflection area below. If you’d like, you may also share your haiku.
You may have noticed that Br. David signs his haiku as “Anon.” You might explore doing this for your own haiku. Notice how it impacts the poem. Notice how it feels for you. Imagine how it might land with others.
Enjoy the full eight-day Exploring Haiku practice.