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Learn From The Pine

This from Hattori Toho, a longtime student of Matsuo Bashō:

"Learn about the pine from the pine, learn about the bamboo from the bamboo" - this dictum of our teacher menas that you must forgo your subjectivity. If you interpret "learn" in your own way, you will end up not learning. To "learn" here means to enter the object; then if the essence reveals itself and moves you, you may come up with a verse, a page, a painting. Even if you seem to have described the object, unless it has an emotion that comes out of it naturally, the object and your self will remain separated, and the emotion you have described wil not have attained sincerity, because it will be something made up by your subjectivity (translation by Hiroaki Sato, from Jane Hirshfield's Nine Gates). 

[NOTE: Image from Acateyahulaco, Guerrero. Agave cupreata Trel & Burger (see Mescal) in the right foreground; unknown species of pine (Pinus spp.) in the background].

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