“Eaten alive by lice and fleas–now the horse beside my pillow pees.”
Written in the moment, this quote embraces what Basho sees, hears and feels. These seemingly miserable facts are conveyed without any negative emotion, just stated. He knows that these events may not be bad. Even if they are not what he may enjoy, there is appreciation for the fact that this is the cycle of life, and that these other creatures are in their true nature, they are Buddhas, they are doing exactly what it is that they do.
I think this quote was meant to be funny. Zen masters are often laughing and smiling a lot. They understand the mysteries of life, but they also understand the simple things in life that people are annoyed by or take for granted.
Look in nature at bugs and bees. Surely they wouldn’t still survive as a species if there wasn’t a cycle that sustains them. If a cycle sustains them, what is that cycle, and does it affect us? Of course it affects us, we are all related, we all share this small planet Earth. There is great concern now over the diving population of bees around the world, but how many of us killed them with pesticides, bee traps or bug zappers over the summer?
We all need to realize how all life affects us, how we are all involved in each cycle. We must stop littering, we have enough problems trying to figure out what to do with landfills and how to add more, let us not make our entire planet a landfill. We must stop killing everything around us without understanding how may affect us. We must learn to appreciate everything around us, and everything in the universe, including the cycles of life and death.