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10 Beautiful Zen Poems/Haikus

Updated on September 10, 2010

Zen poems and haiku are like word paintings. They paint a picture, a very living picture.Here are 10 most beautiful zen poems and haiku by masters like Basho, Dogen, Issa, Hofuku, Ekon.

We need to read between the lines to understand their meaning .They present us a scenario and we have to get into the scenario to feel the magic. These poems and haiku reflect the contemplation and meditation of the writer. Sole purpose of these works is to help the reader get into no mind state and see the thing as it is without any deviation from reality.

Let's not discuss much and get into these poems and haiku directly. Talking too much is very unZenly.


The old pond                                                                                                                                     
A frog jumps in                                                                                                                                  
Plop.            Haiku by Basho                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Haiku by Basho

Well it is said that Basho became enlightened with the sound of frog jumping into the old pond... just a plop. He must have been in a state of pure contemplation that the impossible becomes possible. Zen is nothing but a discipline of how to attain to this state of no mind.

Crying is Beautiful

After cry
After cry of joy-
Not minding
The hair 
Turning white. Zen Poem by Dogen 

The poet is just reminding us crying can be beautiful! It is lightening, unburdening. Don't care about time, space or age. Cry or laugh totally because these are the ways that lead us to our innermost being.

Everything Passes On

The passing days and months
are eternal travelers in time.   Haiku by Basho

Have we ever stopped to think about time? The days, months are like travelers and we are witnesses who remain silent here and now watching the whole procession. It is said when we become a witness, enlightenment occurs.

Existence Is Our Home

Don't tell me how difficult the way
The bird's path, winding far
Is right before you.

Water of the Dokei Gorge,
You return to the ocean
I to the mountain.         Zen poem by Hofuku

It's a beautiful poem. The poet is suggesting the river to go to ocean even if the ways are full of obstacles because that's its home. The poet himself is going to mountain because that's his home. Wherever our original nature takes us, wherever our spontaneity takes us, it is our home. Zen makes this whole existence our home.

A Cup of Tea

For his morning tea
A monk sits down in utter silence-
Confronted by chrysanthemums.     Haiku by Basho

This beautiful haiku depicts a Zen like scenario or peace or bliss. Tea, monk, silence, chrysanthemums. What a way to start a day...

Laughing Buddhas

One call invites
One hundred comrades;
One smile beckons
Ten thousand admirers.  Zen Poem by Dogen

The first sign of being religious is being cheerful. When the mind with all its hypocrisies, egoism, greed dissolves, we become like a small child. Not only ten thousand but everyone admires a child's smile.


From the white dewdrops,
Learn the way
To the pure land.  Haiku by Issa

In the night, dewdrops gather on the leaves and in the morning they slowly fall towards the lake and they simple merge into the lake without making any fuss. This haiku tells us to learn from these dewdrops. They are beautiful, temporary, and they merge into oneness. This leads us to the pure land, the land of consciousness, the Buddha land.

The Real Watcher

Where the interplay of 
is and is not is fixed,
Not even the sages can know.    A zen poet

Duality, any form of duality, be it happiness, sorrow, life, death, truth, illusion, or simply yes, no; these all can be watched. But when you go beyond duality, the mind becomes silent. Can a silent mind know that it is silent? No. An immense silence... you come home for the first time... this is meditation... this is ultimate rest.

A Picture to Listen to...

Temple bells die out.
The fragrant blossoms remain-
A perfect evening!          Haiku by Basho

Yet again Basho with his golden touch. In this haiku, you can hear the bell ringing and dying into deep silence. You can see the blossoms still remain, and the fragrance. The silence deepens, the fragrance deepens.... a perfect evening. An aware man can experience the beauty in small things.

Joy Everywhere

Joy in the morning,
Sleep in the evening,
What else?               Haiku by Ekon

If in the morning, you can feel the joy of being alive, every breath becomes a blessing. If you can see sleep as a great rest and relaxation in the evening, what else do you want? A state of bliss will always cover your existence. Think again, is there really any other thing you want? Think, think...


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    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Our life is a light disturbance of air behind the wings of a beautiful butterfly .

    • KrisL profile image


      7 years ago from S. Florida

      Not easy

      not difficult

      the stream splashes over hard stones

      to the river

      to the sea

      Thanks for the poems & your commentary

    • SidKemp profile image

      Sid Kemp 

      7 years ago from Boca Raton, Florida (near Miami and Palm Beach)

      Confronted by Chrysanthemums

      the fragrance remains, these poems

      companions on the mountain journey

      Thank you

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I signed up just to say thank you. The poems are wonderful, as are your insights on them.

    • dafreesan profile image


      7 years ago from India

      Wow! this is great! I really enjoyed every Haikus on this page!

    • Quirinus profile image

      Queirdkus Ω Ibidem 

      7 years ago from Sitting on the Rug

      So lovely! Thanks for sharing, drabsurd. Indeed, "A state of bliss will always cover your existence ..." Voted up

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Thanks for posting. Very nice.

    • tgopfrich profile image


      8 years ago from Springbrook, AB

      Very Nice, thank you, Voted up! :)

    • profile image

      Charles Hilton 

      8 years ago

      Lovely and profound! Thank you!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Fantastic selection! I especially enjoyed 'Crying is beautiful' and 'Existence is Our Home'. There's a lot we can learn from the simplicity, yet profoundness of Zen. Thanks for posting.

    • Sembj profile image


      9 years ago

      Thank you for selecting some beautiful Zen poems.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I really enjoyed this hub. The haiku were interesting but I found your thoughts on them to be fascinating.

    • Jhangora profile image

      Dinesh Mohan Raturi 

      9 years ago from Dehradun

      Really beautiful Haiku. Thanx a lot for sharing.

    • AustinAmerica profile image


      9 years ago from North Bay, Cali

      Great! Thank you for posting.


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