Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Carpe Diem #1389 Begging Bowl

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

What a joy this part of the month is. We are reading the poems of Rumi, the Mystical Poet. Rumi has really written wonderful beautiful poems with a deep spiritual meaning hidden in it.
As you all know haiku has a Zen-Buddhistic base and that brought me the idea to share a poem by Rumi in which you can read this base too. I even remembered a haiku I have written once that fits the "tone" of this poem by Rumi.

thrown away bowl
once filled with rice 
dances on the wind

© Chèvrefeuille

Or this one:

an empty bowl
but in it is the spirit of emptiness -
the spring breeze

© Chèvrefeuille

I think you all understand in which direction these haiku are pointing. In these haiku we can read one of the pillars of Buddhism, Emptiness. And that Emptiness is part of the poem by Rumi which I love to share with you for your inspiration. As I stated above, emptiness is part of Buddhism, but Rumi wasn't a Buddhist, he was a Sufi. But there is something with him. He has said himself that he wasn't of any kind of religion. There are sources that say that Rumi was muslim, but he never said that himself. He was one of the earliest enlightened spirits that said "All Gods Are One God".

Young Buddhist Monk with Begging Bowl (image found on Pinterest)

So ... I am looking forward to your responses on this beauty by Rumi:

Saladin's Begging Bowl:

Of these two thousand "I" and "We" people,
which am I?

Don't try to keep me from asking!
Listen, when I'm this out of control!
But don't put anything breakable in my way!

There is an original inside me.
What's here is a mirror for that, for you.

If you are joyful, I am.
If you grieve, or if you're bitter, or graceful,
I take on those qualities.

Like the shadow of a cypress tree in the meadow,
like the shadow of a rose, I live
close to the rose.

If I separated myself from you,
I would turn entirely thorn.

Every second, I drink another cup of my own blood-wine.
Every instant, I break an empty cup against your door.

I reach out, wanting you to tear me open.

Saladin's generosity lights a candle in my chest.
Who am I then?

His empty begging bowl.

© Rumi (Tr. Coleman Barks)

Let me tell you a little about the background of the begging bowl as used in Buddhism. I think it will help you to relate to this poem by Rumi.

Buddhist Monk along the way to Osaka (Japan)

The begging bowl or alms bowl is one of the simplest but most important objects in the daily lives of Buddhist monks. It is primarily a practical object, used as a bowl in which to collect alms (either money or food) from lay supporters.

But the begging bowl also has symbolic significance associated with the historical Buddha. According to one legend, when he began meditating beneath the Bodhi Tree, a young woman offered him a golden bowl filled with rice, thinking he was the divinity of the tree. He divided the rice into 49 portions, one for each day until he would be enlightened, and threw the precious bowl into the river.

This and other legends, combined with its humble monastic uses, have made the simple begging bowl a symbol of the Buddha's teachings on nonattachment. The Vinaya states that monks may use bowls made of either iron or clay, and they can be small, medium, or large.

Well ... what a nice poem this is and as we look at the "back-story" what a wonder it is that through this poem by Rumi we can find the classic ideas about haiku ... one of those ideas is "a Buddhistic" layer.

an empty bowl
thrown away in the sink
the faint scent of tea
as I empty the kettle -
time for coffee

© Chèvrefeuille

This episode is open for your submissions tonight at 7:00 PM (CET) and will remain open until March 21st at noon (CET). I will try to publish our new episode later on. For now ... have fun!

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