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The Bowl of Worms


“El Viento, Un Día Brillante”

El viento, un día brillante, llamado

a mi alma con un olor del jazmín.

“en la vuelta para el olor de mi jazmín,

quisiera todo el olor de sus rosas.”

“no tengo ninguna rosa;

todas las flores en mi jardín son muertas.”

“bien entonces, tomaré los pétalos marchitados

y las hojas amarillas y las aguas de la fuente.”

el viento dejado. Y lloré. Y dije a me:

“qué le tienen hecho con el jardín que fue confiado a usted?”

                       – Antonio Machado


The wind, one brilliant day, called

to my soul with an odor of jasmine.

‘In return for the odor of my jasmine,

I’d like all the odor of your roses.’

‘I have no roses; all the flowers

in my garden are dead.’

‘Well then, I’ll take the withered petals

and the yellow leaves and the waters of the fountain.’

the wind left. And I wept. And I said to myself:

‘What have you done with the garden that was entrusted to you?

                                     – Antonio Machado



One time, in about 1982, I ‘threw the I Ching’.  Between about 1975 and 1985 I was the resident landlord of a cooperative household in Seattle, about a mile west of the University of Washington.  By living cooperatively, we could live fairly well and yet fairly inexpensively. And I got to live with quite an array of interesting and (mostly) high quality people.  One of these was a sannyasin; that is, a follower of Bhagwan Rajneesh. He mostly wore orange clothing. I quite liked this young man. He was lively, intelligent, natural, and had a clean energy.  One day he invited me to throw the I Ching – a book he considered wise and useful. I doubt we had access to yarrow stalks, so I expect we used coins. Pennies are adequate. Six coins, I think. And I drew (threw) … the Bowl of Worms.  

The image is – that I hold in my hands a bowl of food – meat perhaps.  And I have failed to take care of it, such that now there are worms in my bowl of food.  

Food is something which is valuable to everyone.  (We ALL need to eat.)


What the I Ching was telling me – was that there are things which I have in my life (which I know are valuable – but) which I have failed to take proper care of.

Well !

I don’t know what I was expecting

But I was not expecting THIS !

I was appalled, and a bit horrified.

But of course, I knew right away that it was true.  

And the hell of it is – that it is STILL true.

A great many times (since that day) I have come to the (dismaying) realization that I have (yet again) thrown the bowl of worms.  That I have failed to take care of something valuable. A poor choice, no doubt, but – a choice.

Perhaps one day I will mature; and this ‘maturity’ will include caring for everything that is valuable … including my time.

and then, perhaps

I may move on.  And maybe I’ll feel to throw the I Ching again.


How about you?  Have you ever thrown the bowl of worms?


How about the Earth?

Is the World valuable to us?


are we taking care of it?

9 thoughts on “The Bowl of Worms

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