Do as a human and a pine tree

Do
you know how Tanka, Haiku, and Zen Parables are connected; they are all forms
of Japanese literature. Japanese literature was heavily influenced by Chinese
culture and writing. They are three of the oldest and most well-known Japanese
literature. Tanka are brief lyrical poems of around 31 syllables and all
divided into 5 lines. A haiku is an unrhymed poem that is three lines long. Zen
Parables are short stories that teach a lesson or moral about life.

    The most evident cultural trait in Tanka is
the Yin-Yang, or In-yo in Japanese. The philosophy of yin-yang is that nothing
is constant or fully pure, and that it always carries the seed of the next
thing. Tanka supplies a strong image and emotion that are subtle and direct.
For example, “One Lone Pine Tree,”
shows some of the yin-yang values. This poem is about a “lone pine tree growing
in the hollow,” and someone discovers that they aren’t the only lonely thing
“without a friend.” This poem shows yin-yang characteristics because everything
contains yin-yang even opposites such as a human and a pine tree that both are
alone in the world, yet these opposites still have things in common with one
another. An additional cultural trait that I think is apparent within  Tanka is Confucianism. One of the most
important principals in Confucianism is that family is the center and comes
before an individual. In the poem “Now That the
Blossoms,” the author writes “the blossoms have fallen at my house;” I feel
that they aren’t actually referring to cherry blossoms, but maybe a loved one who
has passed because they “hope that it will seem like home.” I can see this
being true because when you lose someone important in your life home doesn’t
really feel the same warmth as if it would have if that person was still there.
I feel that this poem really shows the impermanence of life.

    The main apparent cultural trait in a haiku
would have to be Shintoism. Shintoism is an ancient religion of Japan, and the
prominent object of worship is Kami, or translated to god or deity. They reside
in nature or objects. Some beliefs of Shintoism are aesthetic sensitivity which
is a sense of beauty for the simple things and an emotional view on life like
happiness and sadness. For example the haiku “Avoiding Fishnet” provides aesthetic sensitivity by the
way a person is described “avoiding fishnet and fishing lines,” because it is
dark out and the “moon on the water” is the only provided light. Another haiku
that shows Shinto beliefs is “Everything I Touch,” which is a sadder haiku. It
is about someone who no matter how hard tries to “touch with tenderness,” still
“pricks like a bramble.” I get a depressing feeling from this story, it may be
short, but carries a lot of emotion within it. I sense that no matter how hard
this person tries they end up ruining something, or someone.

     In Zen Parables the most prominent
cultural trait is Zen. Zen is Japanese school of
Buddhism which stresses the value of meditation and intuition. Another
important belief is to live in the moment instead of the past. A good example
of this would be the parable “Muddy Road.”
It is about two monks who come across a pretty young woman who can’t cross
the road, so one of the men offers to carry her across. After a while the other
man said “We monks don’t go near females, especially
not young and lovely ones.” The wiser man replied “I left the girl there, are
you still carrying her?” What he meant was if the other man was still carrying
her in his thoughts, meanwhile he was in the present and moved on and forgot
about it. It is important for them to live in the present so they can avoid
dark and negative thoughts about the past.

    Culture traits have always been crucial to
the way people write literature. If we didn’t have different unique cultures
then it would show in our literature, and not as diverse. Stories wouldn’t be
that interesting to read because there would be I greater chance that we would
have already read something like it before. In short, culture differences are
very important to pretty much anything not just literature because we can make
it our own distinctive quality that sets us apart from other parts of the
world.