milky way

Stream of Consciousness . . .

by Kala Ramesh

the horizon

Presence Haiku Journal # 53 Jan 2016

This three-line poem suggests both conclusion and continuity. A few years ago, I attended a one-month course on film appreciation at the Film and Television Institute of India, to study how directors use the ‘cut,’ called ‘kire,’ which is the essential element that makes the haiku art form different. While reading about ‘Noh’ drama, I came across the term ‘kire-tsuzuki’ or ‘cut-continuity.’ The commonest example of this is the pause between every exhalation of air from the lungs and the next inhalation. Another lovely example is our walk - we move one leg, cut the movement and move the other leg - the two actions together get us moving; there is both a cut and a continuation. My haiku embodies and exemplifies this idea of both conclusion and continuity. The continuation leads one to ‘Zoka,’ the creative force of nature, a Japanese concept used in haiku. In Sanskrit, we call this ‘Prakriti.’ Prakriti is described in the Bhagavad Gita as the ‘primal motive force.’

My haiku ‘beyond the horizon beyond,’ also embodies the void around things, an uncluttered feeling in our minds and our surroundings. The nearer you get to a horizon the farther it moves away. Once you go ‘beyond’ there is no ‘beyond.’ Beyond the horizon there is only ‘Śhūnyatā’ — the space, the void that resonates with the sound of positive energy — ‘Omkara.’

In the silence between notes, between words, between lines, the emotional quotient that arises is ‘rasa,’ as we say in India — that which gives poetry, music, dance or any other art form greater depth and resonance. It is something that cannot be described in words, because it has taken us to a sublime plane where all sounds have dropped away.

How closely these thoughts connect with my understanding of haiku, for haiku revolves around the Japanese aesthetic concept known as ‘ma’ (pronounced as ‘mah’). I can’t do better than quote from an interview with Hasegawa Kai in the Spring 2009 issue of Simply Haiku.

“In other words, juxtaposition is a technique for creating ‘ma’ in haiku. A more realistic problem for discussion is that of ma. This Japanese word can have a spatial meaning, as in ‘empty space’ or ‘blank space,’ a temporal meaning (silence), a psychological meaning, and so on. Ma is at work in various areas of life and culture in Japan. Without doubt, Japanese culture is a culture of ma. This is the case with haiku as well. The “cutting” (kire) of haiku is there to create ma, and that ma is more eloquent than words. That is because even though a superior haiku may appear to be simply describing a ‘thing,’ the working of ma conveys feeling (kokoro).”

It is amazing to see the reach of human thought and cultures, over hills and seas, as our quest to understand the ‘unknown’ continues ... beyond the horizon beyond.

a falling leaf
twirls the silence ...
who am I


Presence Haiku Journal # 46 Summer 2012

Kala Ramesh
Pune, India


This part of the essay is taken from the preface the author wrote for her book ‘beyond the horizon beyond’. Vishwakarma Publications 2017.

who am I
– a famous quote by Saint Ramana Maharshi Yogi (1918 – 2008), who based his entire philosophical teaching on this question.

Stream of Consciousness - a person's thoughts and conscious reactions to events, perceived as a continuous flow. The term was introduced by William James in his Principles of Psychology (1890).