empty begging bowl
a promise trapped in a crack
single grain of rice
Kim M. Russell, 2018
My response to Carpe Diem #1389 Begging Bowl
This month we are reading the poems of Rumi. Chèvrefeuille reminds us that the haiku has roots in Zen Buddhism, which is why he has chosen today’s poem, because it has a connection with one of the pillars of Buddhism: emptiness.
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)