By Peter Y. Chou,

Haiku Poem Sources
Rushing and roaring—
sailing eastward sights more sweet
a thousand bright streams
Whitman, Passage to India, 5.52
Melville, Moby Dick, Ch. 52
Rig Veda, Hymn 52.5
My eyes on the sun
O Sky-dweller, Wealth-giver—
and God saw the light
Dante, Paradiso I.52-53
Rig Veda, Hymn 52.1, 52.5
Genesis I.4 (word 52 = God)
Maiden of the world
sees the small, protects the weak—
the Supernal Mother
Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, 52
Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, 52
Gematria: AYMA = 52
Recall gratitude
give reverence, honor your friend—
the Child before you
Emily Dickinson, New Poem, 52
Rumi, Rumi Daylight, Verse 52
Gospel of Thomas, 52nd Saying
Sing praise when you rise
kindness— the highest wisdom
white light everywhere
Mohammed, Koran, 52
Kerouac, Golden Eternity, Verse 52
Kerouac, Golden Eternity, Verse 52
Whirlwind brings me west
the mountains all pass away
as wax before the fire
Book of Enoch, 52.2
Mohammed, Koran, 52.10
Book of Enoch, 52.8
Waxing and waning
nature in proper measure—
the Eternal Pastime
T'ai Hsüan Ching, 52
T'ai Hsüan Ching, 52
Omar Khayyam, Rubáiyát, 52
Darling of the moon
pine trees speak & birds whistle
love— the fire of life
Millay, Fatal Interview, Sonnet 52
Neruda, 100 Love Sonnets, Sonnet 52
Swedenborg, Worlds in Space, Section 52
Beautiful flowers
a quiet English garden
a green olive tree
Buddha, Dhammapada, Verse 52
Joyce, Finnegans Wake, 52.9
King David, Psalms, 52.8
Devoid of desires
the Great Space— no mind rising
mind utterly freed
Astavakra Gita, 18.52
Merrell-Wolff, Aphorism 52; Lankavatara 52
Huang Po, Transmission of Mind, Section 52
The silent stilling
balefires blaze— let them be seen!
mountains standing still
Joyce, Finnegans Wake, 52.36
Joyce, Finnegans Wake, 52.19
King Wên, I Ching, Hexagram 52
The great sea of Zen
mystic eye, enchanted isles
eternal blissstuff
Blue Cliff Records, Case 52
Emily Dickinson, Poem 52
Kerouac, Golden Eternity, Verse 52
White notes, stones of worth
spring time, white snow, blessed key
stone bridge of Joshu
52 white piano keys; Shakespeare, Sonnet 52
Dogen, Poem 52; Shakespeare Sonnet 52
Blue Cliff Records, Case 52

Meditation Notes to Poem:

For the context of sources for the haiku lines, consult my web page On Number 52 to see how this poem was constructed. Each haiku may be meditated upon separately or in sequence. Despite the difference in space & time of the composition of each line, what unites these writers quoted is the number 52. That is, the writer's words appeared in verse 52, sonnet 52, chapter 52, line 52, or page 52. If this poem makes sense at all, it may be due to the synchronicity of minds at work. I'm still learning and consulting books on symbolism for a better understanding of this poem.

Rushing and roaring— / sailing eastward sights more sweet: These lines are from Whitman's locomotive and Melville's ship— earthly means of transportation. But the third line a thousand bright streams refers to a Sun-God, Soma Pavamana from the Rig Veda. Hence, we may interpret this haiku as the sun's sailing eastward through the Milky Way galaxy, rushing and roaring at the speed of 491,040 miles/hr (220 km/sec).

My eyes on the sun: Dante relates how Beatrice stared steadily at the sun like an eagle (Paradiso I.46-48) before he gathered courage to do likewise.
O Sky-dweller, Wealth-giver— the sun's attributes as the invocation to the Sun-God indicates (Rig Veda's Hymn 52). The Moon, planets, and stars are also sky-dwellers, but only the Sun is the wealth-giver, fertilizing the Earth with its rays of light and nourishing all life with its warmth.
and God saw the light: Since "God" is the 52nd word in Genesis, this haiku establishes "God the Father" as a "Sun figure" impregnating life in Mother Earth with its innumerable rays of light.

Maiden of the world / sees the small, protects the weak— / the Supernal Mother:
This haiku equates Lao Tzu's "Maiden of the world" with the Kabbalah's "Supernal Mother". It is the womb of Mother Earth that is the home of all the minerals and tiny nitrogen-fixing bacteria that allows plant growth which nourishes animal life on this planet. On another level, the weak and meek pray to female deities such as the Virgin Mary and Kuan-Yin for protection and assistance.

Recall gratitude / give reverence, honor your friend— / the Child before you:
Having established the Father and Mother figures in the previous two haikus, we now celebrate the image of the Child, whom Christ proclaimed as "the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven" (Matthew 18.4). Lao Tzu tells us that "one who is in harmony with the Tao is like a newborn babe" (Tao Te Ching 55). And Mencius says "the sage is one who has a childlike heart" (Mencius, 4B.12). Remember that the Child before you is the Inner Child within you. Wordsworth says "The Child is the father of the Man" (The Rainbow). Rumi calls this Child "the Friend". Remember our gratitude to this Child. Give reverence and honor It always. (See Freeman Dyson's dream of God.)

Sing praise when you rise / kindness— the highest wisdom / white light everywhere:
This haiku is a prayer to sunrise. In hatha yoga, it's the Surya Namaskara. Native Americans perform rituals of chanting and drumming up the sun. Saint Francis of Assisi has a Hymn for Brother Sun. Surely at sunrise, white light dispels darkness everywhere. And the sun shines on friends & foes alike, no favors for the rich or poor, high or low, big or small. The sun's kindness extends to everyone and everywhere. May our love be like that. After enlightenment, the Bodhisattva shows not only wisdom (prajna) but also compassion (karuna). Hence, kindness— the highest wisdom.

Whirlwind brings me west / the mountains all pass away / as wax before the fire:
This haiku honors sunset. When the sun sinks into the western horizon, the mountains melts away as wax before the fire, and darkness covers the earth.

Waxing and waning / nature in proper measure— / the Eternal Pastime:
This haiku honors the passage of time— day & night, the four seasons, phases of the Moon, birth & death, rise & fall of waves, civilizations, galaxies, and the universe.

Darling of the moon/pine: (Myth of Endymion)
Why should our young Endymion pine away! (Keats, Endymion, I.184)
By every wind that nods the mountain pine, (Keats, Endymion, I.261)
Oh, no— it shall not pine, and pine, and pine (Keats, Endymion, III.577)
More than one pretty, trifling thousand years; (Keats, Endymion, III.578)
pine trees speak: Pine-tree: Like other evergreen trees, the pine is a symbol of immortality [since it does not shed its pine needles in winter]. Conifers, by virtue of their shape, also partake of the symbolism of the pyramid. The Phrygians chose the pine for their sacred tree, associating it with the cult of Attis. Pine-cones were regarded as symbols of fertility.
[J. E. Cirlot, A Dictionary of Symbols (1962), p. 244]
love— the fire of life:
The pine cone is both flame-shaped and phallic, and represents the masculine creative force, fecundity and good luck. Bastius equates the pine cone with the spinning top as a vortex or whorl, i.e., the great generative forces.
[J.C. Cooper, An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Traditional Symbols (1978), p. 131] The pine is pyramid-shaped. Pyramid = "fire in the middle". The triangle with apex on top symbolizes the element fire. Now we see how the fire of love creates all life. This is the pine's message to us— "love". That's why the birds are whistling. Pablo Neruda understands.

Devoid of desires / the Great Space— no mind rising / mind utterly freed:
This haiku honors Buddha, the Awakened-One, who has unveiled the Four Noble Truths, conquered his desires, so his mind is utterly freed, without rambling thoughts to impede the Great Space of Empty Mind. May we do likewise so we are free to do anything and everything.

Beautiful flowers / a quiet English garden: While beautiful flowers enhance a quiet English garden, a quiet mind allows a thousand-petal lotus to blossom (Crown Chakra, Sahasrara, symbolizes enlightenment). Since these beautiful flowers were gathered from verse 52 of Buddha's Dhammapada, may we plant the Blessed One's words in our garden of meditation. After the Last Supper with his disciples, they sang a hymn and went out into the Mount of Olives where Jesus prayed at the Garden of Gethsame (Mark 14.26, 14.32).
a green olive tree: The olive tree is a symbol of peace, immortality, fruitfulness, and plenty (its oil being valuable). The olive branch, especially with the dove is a symbol of peace. It was the dove that brought an olive leaf back to Noah's Ark to signify that The Flood had receded ( Genesis, VIII.11). The olive tree is the dwelling place and an emblem of the moon. It is also an emblem of Zeus/Jupiter, Athene/Minerva, Apollo and Cybele. [Cooper, Encyclopedia of Traditional Symbols, p. 122] (More on olive trees).
This haiku's lesson: When our mindscape is like a quiet garden, illumined ideas bloom like beautiful flowers, the dove descends on the olive tree and we experience "the peace which passeth all understanding." ( Philippians 4.7)

The silent stilling: When James Joyce wrote "The solence of that stilling!" in the line 36 (last line) on page 52 of Finnegans Wake, was he thinking of Hexagram 52 of the I Ching: Kên / Keeping Still, Mountain? It's interesting that Joyce changed "silence" to "solence". Perhaps Joyce was meditating on Psalms 46:10 "Be still, and know I am God." In being still, the little "i" (ego) becomes a circle "o" (God). Note that the 52nd word in Genesis is "God". Also sol is "sun" in Spanish. The word for sun in Italian is sole and in French is soleil. Since the Egyptians worship the sun as the God Ra, Joyce's solence is even more meaningful. Sol is the sun-god of the ancient Romans, and sol is alchemical gold. Sol is also the fifth tone of the diatonic scale, the syllable sung to this note in a medieval hymn to St. John the Baptist. Elsewhere on page 52, we find "spake of the One and told of the Compassionate" (52.12-13)— as Joyce hints of Plato (One) and Buddha (Compassionate)— sages who experienced Cosmic Consciousness by making the "i" to "o" transition from ego to Cosmic Self.
balefires blaze: Balefire is a large outdoor fire or bonfire. It is also a beacon-fire, kindled as a signal. That's why Joyce wrote "Let them be seen!" (Finnegans Wake, 52.19). These balefires were kindled at Summer Solstice on Midsummer's Eve (June 23) in the Fire Festivals of Europe. In Scandanavian countries, they are known as Balder's Balefires. The phrase "bale-fires blaze" also appeared in Sir Walter Scott's poem The Lay of the Last Minstrel (1805), Canto 4.I.2 followed four lines later by "All, all is peaceful, all is still," (4.I.6).
mountains standing still: The mountain symbolizes constancy, eternity, firmness, stillness. (Cooper, Encyclopedia of Traditional Symbols (1978), p. 110). Mountain-tops represent cosmic consciousness— a vision of 360o that's all embracing. Pilgrimages up sacred mountains symbolise the spiritual quest or the ascent of the soul. A Zen saying goes: "Before studying, Zen mountains are mountains. While studying Zen, mountains are no longer mountains. After studying Zen, mountains are mountains again." When D.T. Suzuki was asked what's the difference between before and after, he replied "No difference— only the feet are a little bit off the ground." (John Cage, Silence, 1961). When I told Paul Brunton this story at his home in Vevey, Switzerland (August 1978), and asked what is the meaning of "feet off the ground", PB said "You have a transcendental point of view". So the silent stilling of the mind leads us to see the inner fire which awakens us to the mountain-top vision of enlightenment.

The great sea of Zen: The great sea is the ocean— the source of all life. From the Many to the One— all the rivers flow into it, yet the ocean is never full. From the One to the Many— Out of a single point of no-dimension comes this universe of seventy sextillion stars. Out of No-Mind or Emptiness (sunyata) is born endless thoughts giving rise to science, poetry, music, and art. The ocean is equated to the Tao, the primordial and inexhaustible, the Creative Principle which gives birth to Yin & Yang, out of which flow the ten thousand things. This is the great sea of Zen.
mystic eye, enchanted isles: Emily Dickinson did not use the phrase "mystic eye" in her Poem 52. It was collaged from "mystic mooring" and "errand of the eye" in her poem. Emily used the word "mystic" four other times in her poems: "People upon the mystic green" (#24), "The absent— mystic— creature—" (#255), "into the [mystic] purple well" (#271) and "To taste her mystic Bread—" (#1077). Emily used "mystic" three times in her letters, most notably in a letter to her brother Austin: "the little mystic clock, no human eye hath seen which ticketh on and ticketh on, from morning until e'en." (Letter #60, Oct. 30, 1851). The mystic eye symbolizes light, enlightenment, knowledge, mind, vigilance, omniscience, and intuitive vision. (Cooper, Encyclopedia of Traditional Symbols, p. 62). Plato says "that in every man there is an eye of the soul which is dimmed and lost by trivial pursuits, but purified and re-kindled by philosophy; and is more precious than ten thousand physical eyes, for by it alone is reality beheld." ( Republic VII.527d-e). Enchanted isles symbolize Paradise, the abode of the Blessed, like the Isles of the Blest and the Celtic Green Islands (Cooper, Encyclopedia of Traditional Symbols, p. 88). According to Geoffrey of Monmouth, the mortally wounded King Arthur was carried to Insula Avallonis, the Island of Apples, to be restored to health by the nine sisters skilled in healing and magic who dwelt there, one of whom was the famous Morgana. This apple island is analogous to the Isles of the Blest of antiquity, where golden apples were tended by divine maidens. (Emma Jung & Marie-Louise von Franz, The Grail Legend, 1986, p. 343)
eternal blissstuff: The Chinese "Islands of the Blessed", the paradise where the Eight Taoist Immortals dwell in eternal bliss, are usually portrayed as rocky islands off the South-east Coast. The emblem of longevity is intensified by the addition of growing pines and cranes in flight (Wolfram Eberhard, Dictionary of Chinese Symbols, 1986, p. 152). Yeats' poem The Lake Isle of Innisfree (1893) portrays eternal bliss in a more mundane level. If we understand the great sea of Zen, the wave needs no longer search for the Kingdom of Water. Once the mystic eye is awakened, the enchanted isles are not far away but are actually within us. Then we experience eternal blissstuff every day and everywhere!

White notes, stones of worth: Image: Newton holds up a glass prism ("stone of worth"), a beam of white light enters, and a rainbow of seven colors exit ("white notes"). (Learn more: Scientists on Color, Color & Music). Shakespeare hides the "stones of worth" or "captain jewels in the carcanet" in the center of his Sonnet 52 (lines 7-8). But could this "up-locked treasure" refer to tall upright stones like Stonehenge which act like a celestial time-clock at Summer Solstice? References to time abounds in this Sonnet: "every hour survey" (line 3), "feasts so solemn" (line 5), "the long year set" (line 6), "So is the time that keeps you" (line 9), "some special instant special-blest" (line 11). The Omphalos is a navel-shaped stone that marks the center of the Earth where man can regain Paradise or find enlightenment (Cooper, Encyclopedia of Traditional Symbols, p. 160). The Philospher's Stone is the supreme alchemical quest of attainment of unity by transcending the opposites. It is a symbol of perfection; absolute reality; spiritual, mental and moral wholeness in man (Cooper, p. 160). Also "white notes" may be linked to the White Phase (Leukosis)— the second stage of the Great Alchemical Work that takes place during Distillation. Note that both Newton and Shakespeare were interested in alchemy. George Herbert uses the philosopher's stone in his poem "The Elixir" as a metaphor for Christ.
spring time, white snow, blessed key: The key is an axial symbol which includes all powers of opening and closing, binding and loosing. The key also denotes liberation; knowledge; the mysteries; initiation. It is closely connected with the symbolism of Janus, a binder-and-looser, the "inventor of locks" and god of initiation; he holds the Keys of Power to open and close and the key to the door giving access to the realm of gods and men, the doors of the solstices of Winter and Summer (Cooper, Encyclopedia of Traditional Symbols, p. 90). I've juxtaposed Dogen's "spring time, white snow" (Verse 52) with Shakespeare's "blessed key" (Sonnet 52) because there may be a clue (key) linking the "seasons" to the "time" references in Shakespeare's sonnet: "So am I as the rich, whose blessed key" (line 1) parallels "So is the time that keeps you as my chest" (line 9). Shakespeare's chest contains the up-locked treasure, and the Sonnet's last word is "hope"— Pandora's gift. Shakespeare invokes blessing trice in this Sonnet: "blessed key" (line 1), "special instant special-blest" (line 11), and "Blessed are you" (line 13). The blessed key opens the secret chest of time, and blessed are you who sees this special instant— the Eternal-Now. Blake saw it when he wrote "To see the World in a Grain of Sand / And a Heaven in a Wild Flower / Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand / And Eternity in an hour" ( Auguries of Innocence). Likewise, Dogen (1200-1253) who founded Soto Zen writes in Being Time (1240): "For the time being, I'm the great earth and heavens above." Is "heavens above" the "up-locked treasure" hidden in Shakespeare's chest? In his commentaries on Sonnet 52, G. R. Leger (Oxquarry Books Ltd., Oxford) writes: "It is indeed a somewhat mysterious sonnet, which I feel has a secret locked away deep in its bosom, and no one has yet plumbed its depths or been able to suggest wherein its mystery lies. None of the commentators that I have seen, SB, GBE, KDJ, JK, HV give any help." Suddenly, I envisioned the image of Crossed Keys that may unlock Shakespeare's treasure chest. Placing the keys as a "X" cross over Sonnet 52, we link the first words of lines 1-2 with the last words of lines 13-14 as well as the last words of lines 1-2 with the first words of lines 13-14. Now this couplet reads: "So am I can bring scope, hope. / Blessed key up-locked treasure— Blessed Being!" The Chandogya Upanishad proclaims "Tat Tvam Asi" (That Thou Art). That you are "Sat-Chit-Ananda" (Being-Consciousness-Bliss). When you're conscious of this reality, Shakespeare says you're truly rich— "Blessed are you".
stone bridge of Joshu: The Chinese Zen Master Chao Chou (778-897) or Joshu lived to be 120 years. When a disciple complained about not having enough time, Joshu replied: "You are being used by the 24 hours, but I am using the 24 hours." Even after his enlightenment, Joshu wandered from temple to temple, paying respect to other Zen Masters to polish his learning. The stone bridge of Joshu was one of three famous stone bridges in in 9th century China. They were made up of rocks placed in the river that acted as stepping stones. When a visiting monk came to see this famous stone bridge (Blue Cliff Records, Case 52), he was sorely disappointed to find only stepping stones. Joshu said: "You see only the stepping stones and do not see the stone bridge." The monk said, "What is the stone bridge?" Joshu said, "It lets donkeys cross over and horses cross over." Nothing special. As James Joyce would say in Finnegans Wake 52.9-10: "a quiet English / garden (commonplace!)". Confucius says: "The Tao may not be left for an instant. If it could be left, it would not be the Tao." ( Doctrine of the Mean). The wave needs not make a pilgrimage to find the Kingdom of Water, for water has never left the wave, but is its very nature. Likewise the star that illumines our mind is not out there in space, but right here at home in our heart (See What is Your Star?). Akihisa Kondo writes: "The stone bridge of Joshu represents the ever-functioning dynamic spirit of Zen— Zen in action— which has been transmitted, from mind to mind, from generation to generation, in the history of Zen... D.T. Suzuki lived a life of the stone bridge in the exact sense Joshu meant." [See Akihisa Kondo, "The Stone Bridge of Joshu", The Eastern Buddhist D.T. Suzuki Memorial Issue 2, no. 1 (August 1967), 90-98; reprinted in Masao Abe (ed.), A Zen Life: D.T. Suzuki Remembered (1986), Ch. 17, pp. 181-188]. Here's a lecture "Zen & Bridges" by Fukushima Keido Roshi (Chief Abbot, Tokufuji Monastery, Kyoto) that conveys the spirit of Joshu's Bridge. Turning back to this haiku poem "Meditations on 52: Spring Time, White Snow, Blessed Key", we started with the image of the Sun "rushing and roaring" through the galaxy nearly half a million miles an hour and ends with Joshu's stone bridge here on earth— Seasons pass through it. The Milky Way flows over it. And the Blessed Key opens this bridge as we cross it from ignorance to illumination ***

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© Peter Y. Chou,
P.O. Box 390707, Mountain View, CA 94039
email: (8-15-2003)