Dew-point

 Stefan Gessert on Unsplash 

Stefan Gessert on Unsplash 

 

"Coming soon, to some grass near you."

 

Every event has it’s time. What are you waiting for? The new season of Twin Peaks? Here in Sweden it's 'dew point' (check the internet for local arrival times). 

Dew point is when dew forms. It forms only under certain conditions and those conditions are coming together right now. The skies are clear, with warm days and cold nights. As the temperature starts to drop, it eventually reaches ‘dew point’ and all the water vapour held in the air starts turn back into water.

If you read zen poetry you know that it is full of dew, dewdrops and dewfrost. Issa wrote this at the end of the 18th century - 

 
The laksanas can cut like
blades sometimes.
While the dewdrop world,
is the dewdrop world,
but yet, but yet …
— Issa

The ‘laksanas’, in the poem above, are the three marks of conditioned existence. Everything's impermanent, insubstantial and painful.

Usually it takes at least a lifetime to realise these truths, that's if we're lucky. Issa wasn’t so lucky and got to know these three marks intimately and at a very young age.

His mother died when he was three years old and his life became difficult and lonely. Happiness came briefly, at the age of 49, when he married Kiku. But their first-born child died shortly after his birth and a daughter died a couple of years later.
He wrote this -  

This world of dew
Is nothing but a world
Of dew.
And yet…
And yet…
— Issa

In these poems dew is impermanence, the fleeting quality of all things. In zen dew is also a symbol of autumn, the season of death, when the leaves are dying with a fiery beauty.

Dew is also showing us insubstantiality. It's making visible the invisible cobwebs, and the blankets of dew-frost disappear under our footsteps,

Lastly the dew drops are tears, love and loss is painful, life is painful. Even if we've contemplated these truths for many years, or faced them as Issa had, there is still the and yet, and yet... the yearning for life. 

 Bert Knottenbeld on Flickr

Bert Knottenbeld on Flickr

 Jenny Downing on Flickr 

Jenny Downing on Flickr 

All this loss seems to have broken Issa's heart open. In the poems below I love his tenderness and empathy towards even the tiniest of beings. 

It's like Keith Dowman says, “If we were never to fade away...how things would loose their power to move us. Because we will fade away, we are moved, because we are moved we realise more deeply that we will fade away.” 

 
Even with insects—
some can sing,
some can’t.
— Issa
That wren—
looking here, looking there.
You lose something?
— Issa
 
Hey, sparrow!
out of the way,
    Horse is coming.
— Issa
The toad! It looks like
it could belch
a cloud.
— Issa