This line from Matsuo Bashō (1644–1694) has been a guide for me ever since I first read it: “… each day is a journey, and the journey itself is home.”

It’s a profound truth. It also takes all the neurosis out of daily living. In one fell swoop, he simplifies everything. No dogma, no complicated practice or philosophy. A breath of fresh air and something one can really lean into!

The modern meme version of this is: the journey is more important than the destination. This holds across healing, meditation, every day life.

In what seems to be the original version, Basho adds the sense of belonging we all crave and need and must have, with the second part of the line and the word ‘home.’ It encapsulates the entire process.

It’s to be found in:

Basho’s travel journal, literary diary (Saga Diary), and haibun. The premiere form of literary prose in medieval Japan, the travel journal described the uncertainty and occasional humor of traveling, appreciations of nature, and encounters with areas rich in cultural history. Haiku poetry often accompanied the prose. The literary diary also had a long history, with a format similar to the travel journal but with a focus on the place where the poet was living. Basho was the first master of haibun, short poetic prose sketches that usually included haiku.

Basho was a premier haiku poet who lived two centuries before Usui Sensei, the originator of Japanese Reiki. Spotting similarities between traditions and a variety of authentic sources, has been an enriching activity for me lately. Usui also traveled across Japan, spent extended time alone in remote natural surroundings and mountains.

The Reiki Precepts (Gokai) begin with: For today only… It’s very similar to Basho’s concept where what is happening is the whole thing, where there’s no other thing. Usually we strive and strive for what’s to come. We pine and pine after it. We can still have aspirations. There are wonderful things happening here too, where we’re living!

What’s true about truth, those that hold across time, culture, and source (poetry, art, spiritual teachings, life practices, etc.), is that there’s a common thread and such truths are illuminated clearly so as to be recognized.

This enriches life, our psyche, hearts, minds and how we contribute.

Basho’s whole quote goes like this:

The moon and sun are travelers through eternity. Even the years wander on. Whether drifting through life on a boat or climbing toward old age leading a horse, each day is a journey, and the journey itself is home.

I offer it to you today as an aid, a contemplation, a companion, a psychological and spiritual solution. Together with this gorgeous woodblock print. I particularly love the two pigeons on the Buddha’s hand!

The Great Buddha of Kamakura by Kawase Hasui, 1930

The Journey Itself is Home