Basho, as he traversed the lands, noticed the littlest existences; he noticed the unnoticeable; he noticed transformation at every level. His keen sense of being often returned him to a deep sense of awe as to the workings of the Universe and the comings and goings of all things. He realized that transformation contained the absolute - the truth - the continuum.
Enlightenment is a word routinely tossed into the mix of conversation regarding hokku/haiku. Hokku/haiku are routinely described as poems of an "ah-haa" moment - bringing the reader to a place of sudden understanding. While that might be part of the picture, it is a contraction and not the expansive general character of hokku/haiku.
I question whether or not Basho wrote poetry to expose a sudden enlightenment. It seems to me that he wrote to bring the reader into an environment of awe where the reader was invited to see through the eyes of Basho's heart and soul. He was not simply writing poetry. He was celebrating and revealing the awe of nature and her wondrous, mysterious ways.
It is "awe" where we find Basho dwelling; he lived in a constant state of awe; and, he found it in rocks, cicadas, rivers, frogs, cherry blossoms, and a horse. He sensed the awe of nature through his enriched understanding of not only the transformations of things, but also through the way they interact - a frog jumps into the sound of water - the sound of water that pre-existed - a duality of two things interacting together in a single moment. The water continues to sound after the frog jumped in. The frog continued along his way as well. But, Basho, in describing the event, brings the reader into the activities of nature and her deeper meanings - the frog, the pond, the poet, and the reader have their destinies. And while he has captured a moment- in-time, he is aware that he has not contained it.
Under the Basho is a journal that brings poets together to share their poetic images of the Tao, transformation, and the comings and goings. It is a journal that values the poetics and aesthetics of Basho and yet embraces much dream-space for modern thinkers and their poetic efforts.
Don Baird, Editor in Chief