The begging bowl

Another look at poverty – through the eyes of poetry.

Ryokan (1758-1831): he was a Zen Buddhist monk and poet from Japan. I like these poems as they concentrate on the spiritual aspect and suggest that spiritual richness is more important than material possessions.

Three Poems on My Begging Bowl

Picking violets
by the roadside
I’ve forgotten and left
my begging bowl –
that begging bowl of mine

I’ve forgotten
My begging bowl
But no one would steal it –
How sad for my begging bowl

In my begging bowl
Violets and dandelions
Jumbled together –
I offer them to the
Buddhas of the Three Worlds

And on the same theme, here is a poem by American poet, Pamela Babusci:

Can money really make a difference? What’s the point? I believe that in the right hands and used in the right way, it can help.

Extract from A Penny in the Tin by Robin Mellor.

“Some have a blanket of stars,

others a bed of soft lace;

some lie, and die, on unfriendly soil,

others sleep in a safer place.

Some live in a pocket of gold,

never have need of more;

others, whose names

we’ll never know,

are the legions of the poor.

A penny in the tin, my friend,

a penny in the tin;

we can turn the balance

with a penny in the tin.”

And, finally, let’s nurture our dreams:

I Dream of a Time

by John Foster

I dream of a time

When the only blades are blades of corn

When the only barrels are barrels of wine

When the only tanks are full of water

When the only chains are chains of hands

I hope for a time…


This is Operation Empty my pockets – part 2. Every opinion you leave here in the comments box will be turned into cash for charity!

15 thoughts on “The begging bowl

  1. I truly believe that if we allow ourselves, or create within ourselves, spiritual wealth, materiality fades. The human quest for wealth is actually a quest for HAPPINESS. And the happiest people on earth are the ones who, by Western standards, have next to nothing. We ought to learn from them! I love your begging bowl picture. And the poems. Very nice post.


  2. Thanks for bringing to our attention, a very important issue. It is simple to dismiss thoughts of others when we are in a crisis ourselves. And even easier to forget others when we are no longer stressed.

    I love the post, and I hope that many, many people comment.



  3. Lovely poetry. The first begging bowl poem gave me such a flashback to my grandmother on my father’s side, who was an immigrant and lived most her life in poverty. She couldn’t afford a real flower garden, but she used to dig up wild violets from the side of the road and plant them around her house. I have a few descendants of those violets in my flower beds today – they are like a family heirloom.


  4. fascinating, the image of that begging bowl, and its use in the verses. :O

    best wishes on ‘operation empty my pockets.’ 🙂

    it’s already the 15th here right now, so my blog action day post’s already up. also poetry, but much, much shorter. 🙂


  5. Hi Lady Fi!

    I love that image of the begging bowl, by Pamela a. Babusci! Is there any possibility that you would have a larger, digitial copy of it? I would love to set it as by background!

    Please do let me know.. I would be grateful to have it.




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