Jun 25 2014

Santoka – Hailstones, too

Published by at 8:07 am under Poetry

Hailstones, too
by Santoka (Santoka Taneda)

English version by John Stevens

Hailstones, too,
Enter my begging bowl.

— from Mountain Tasting: The Haiku and Journals of Santoka Taneda, by Santoka Teneda / Translated by John Stevens

/ Photo by Benny Lin /

Just two lines, just a few words, yet this poem suggests so much to me.

Santoka was a wandering Zen monk at the beginning of the 20th century, and whatever he received in his begging bowl was his food for the day. For such a monk, the begging bowl is both survival and the medium of connection to the wider world. It takes on archetypal significance. The begging bowl comes to represent the awareness itself: whatever the self is to receive must first enter the begging bowl.

Rice and coin and flowers come to Santoka through the medium of his begging bowl. But it is the monk’s discipline to hold out his begging bowl and receive whatever comes to him with equanimity, as the meditator receives with balance whatever is witnessed. Hailstones, too, enter the begging bowl. Everything that comes is a gift, food for the awareness, whether or not it feeds the body as well.

To me, this poem evokes that perfect receptivity in which surprise, disillusionment, delight, and new awareness all mix together as the mind opens to what is actually present in the present moment.

Santoka (Santoka Taneda), Santoka (Santoka Taneda) poetry, Buddhist poetry Santoka (Santoka Taneda)

Japan (1882 – 1940) Timeline
Buddhist : Zen / Chan

More poetry by Santoka (Santoka Taneda)

5 responses so far

5 Responses to “Santoka – Hailstones, too”

  1. Aravindaon 25 Jun 2014 at 10:45 am

    Beautiful. Thank you for sharing this poem and your words, Ivan.

  2. Larry Coonradton 25 Jun 2014 at 11:03 am

    Interesting, It too is what I received from this poem.

  3. Prabhjoton 25 Jun 2014 at 4:14 pm

    Awesome Ivan..Begging bowl symbolic of awareness and receptivity to what comes in it coins,flower,rice or hailstones and taking it all with equanimity….and as opportunity.how our little self always wants it all well and gets frazzled by little windy weather mostly self-created too.
    Great reminder for today and always.
    Deep gratitude.

  4. Joyce Stahmannon 26 Jun 2014 at 1:58 pm

    Thanks, Ivan–I love this, especially your commentary.

  5. Therese Monaghan O.P.on 29 Jun 2014 at 5:47 am

    The short poem and your words, Ivan, were perfect
    for my begging bowl–remembering to take what comes–hailstones and all. Thank you. There is goodness in everything.

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