Faith and Prayer


Faith and prayer, expressed in Haiku

***** Location: Worldwide
***** Season: Non-seasonal Topic
***** Category: Humanity


discussing FAITH -
the seat of honour
is empty

CLICK for my photos about Dharmsala 1979 !
 © Photo Gabi Greve, squatting just below the seat
Dharmsala, Dalai Lama Seat, 1979

FAITH in the world -
the Dalai Lama adjusts
his spectacles

Dalai Lama, Visiting Japan, November 2007

Gabi Greve, November 2007


kitoo 祈祷 is often translated as "prayer"
and some kigo are related to it.

In Japan, official prayers at shrines or temples are often accompanied by ritual dance and other ceremonies.

kigo for the New Year
(according to the Asian lunar calendar, spring was the beginning of the New Year)

harugitoo 春祈祷(はるぎとう)spring prayer
..... gongen mai 権現舞 (ごんげんまい) Gongen Dance
..... gongen sama 権現様(ごんげんさま)
..... kado-uchi 門打(かどうち)
..... ha-uchi 歯打(はうち)
This refers to a ceremony in Tohoku, Northern Japan, where the yamabushi priests dance a special dance, Yamabushi Kagura 山伏神楽 with two people carrying a lion head.
. . . CLICK here for Photos !

kitoo-gitsune 祈祷狐(きとうぎつね)
prayer to the Fox deity (kitsune)

kitsune mai 狐舞 (きつねまい) fox dance
inariyama no shirogitsune 稲荷山の白狐(いなりやまのしろぎつね)
the white fox from Inari mountain

Kitsune and Inari, the Fox Deity of Japan

kigo for late summer

aogitoo 青祈祷 (あおぎとう) "prayer in the green season"
Ceremony on the day of the ox in the sixth monthe of the lunar calendar.
A prayer wand is swished over the green fields, praying to Inari, the deity of good harvest and prayers for a bountiful harvest are spoken by a priest walking through the fields.

inori いのり prayer

Shared by Nomura Shigeru
Joys of Japan, February 2012

. Rice planting and kigo .


Dear Friends,

with the beginning of advent (which is not well known in Japan) we are now in a time where the thoughts revolve around our faith.

I would like to argue that each haiku conceived in the right moment is in itself a "short prayer". It might not get you into the top ten of a haiku competition, though.

In Buddhism, we have many ways to express this via haiku, for example Issa and others use the Amida Prayer

Reading the haiku of Issa is a great learning experience for writing haiku about faith.

... Namu Amida Butsu

autumn clouds -
the Lord's Prayer floats
through my mind

Gabi Greve

Meditation is another word used.
We have God, Christmas and Church and many more in the World Kigo Database.

Memorial Days of saints and religious figures are often used as kigo.

I would like to invite you to a discussion about this theme, any faith is welcome, it should not be a discussion about any particular FAITH (or which one is right and wrong, we can not decide that here) but how to express your feelings about it in haiku.
Maybe a little inter-confessional disucssion.

Greetings from Japan

Contact me privately if you want to contribute without giving your full name.


the Dalai Lama -
a Buddha in
retirement ?

You say you are semiretired, but will you ever retire completely? And how would the next leader of the Tibetan people be chosen if you did?

HH answer:
Retirement from the Dalai Lamaship? I cannot retire. (Laughs.) I think when the majority of people do not consider me as the Dalai Lama, then I will retire. (Laughs.) I'm kind of joking.

Ocean of wit and wisdoms
Japan Times, December 2, 2007


Beth Vieira

I happen to be a buddhist so I may not have a different perspective to add.
I believe that interbeing as defined by Thich Nhat Hahn especially is the core of the buddhist faith and that interbeing involves the relatedness of all. This then leads to a natural expression in haiku, for haiku are all about relatedness.
It seems that the tiniest things have the stuff of miracles.

And haiku are uniquely equipped to express that wonder and reverence.


Isabelle Prondzynski

Dear Gabi san, dear all,

Thank you for bringing up the question of faith in haiku, the "missing" element in the "church" page we created recently...

When giving some guidance to the Kenyan students as they were writing "church" haiku, I asked them to :

> ... see whether a church (one you know or one you do not know) is open when there are NO services (on a week-day). Just go inside, and keep quiet. Maybe have a seat and say a little prayer on your own. Sit and look around you. Or get up and walk around quietly, looking at the church. Do not talk, unless someone greets you.
> See some of the details of the building. Are there any insects about? Is there a particular smell? Any flowers? Be aware of the small things in the church, and remain conscious of the atmosphere. An atmosphere of prayer? Of faith? What does the stillness on a quiet day in church tell you? Focus on what you see, hear, touch, smell. And write about it when it has spoken to you!

There are a few I wrote recently in a church I visit quite often, such as :

placing a candle --
the warmth of the flames
on this cold day

candle prayer --
with every passing step
the flames move

These haiku remain at the level of the observation and, to my mind, do not necessarily speak of faith.

Here is an older one of mine which speaks from faith, but it is too wordy, and it generalises rather than focusing on the moment :

God is an artist --
over concrete city squares
he lightly paints clouds

A bit later, this was a reflection in a Japanese hot spring, as I relaxed and enjoyed warmth and peace on a Good Friday night :

Good Friday night
soaking in the hot spring --
you were arrested

Or a lovely view during an Advent service :

Advent service --
the ecstatic face
of a toddler

A book of haiku, "Small World", written by Dermot O'Brien, a poet residing in a monastery in Ireland, is more explicit in some of his haiku. Here is an (almost) seasonal one :

Announced by angels
and a miraculous star light
from another world

At this stage of learning and writing, my inclination is to follow Gabi sensei's advice (if I have understood it well...), using observation and the present tense, sketching from the world around
me. It would be my delight if some of these sketches came to contain a deeper meaning that allowed the reader a glimpse of my faith.
At this stage, I am not yet far advanced on that road...

And aware also that the word "faith" has very different meanings for people of different faiths (by which I do not just mean different religions)...

Glad to have this discussion!
It would be great to read how others write haiku expressing their faith.

(Happy Haiku Forum)


Discussion Isabelle / Chibi

Dear Gabi san, dear all,

Thank you, Gabi, for a beautiful reflection on faith and haiku.

> I would like to argue that each haiku conceived in the right moment is in itself a "short prayer".

I would agree... right moment and right spirit... What you say, makes huge sense to me.

> Haiku should be haiku-like (whatever that is ... grin ).
> That does not exclude writing directly about our religious experience in a special moment, if there was one.

Yes, agree here too. What all this means, is perhaps for us to find out!

Chibi san, thank you for your thoughtful remarks too.

> The English word, FAITH, has many meanings with many

> layers to me.
> I tend to look a FAITH as a culturally defined aspect of notions
> within humanity. To explain by example questions: Can a dog have
> FAITH? A tree? An ocean? A rock? A mountain? Yet, depending on
> the culture... these can/may be granted diety power and knowlege.

My reaction would be that the tree, ocean, rock, and mountain you mention probably do not HAVE faith, but they can be OBJECTS of faith, i.e. people (or animals?) can have faith in them.

Perhaps at the moment I see fewer layers of meaning in the word FAITH. Faith, to me, is a belief and a trust. The same sentiment is there at heart when one talks about one's religious faith ("I have faith in God"), the faith one has in another human ("I have great faith in my partner as a sound judge of human character"), or the faith one has in a concept ("I have great faith in the human survival instinct, which will get us out of this tricky situation").

> How does FAITH "connect" to HAIKU? I think the simple answer is
> through the culturals' filter(s) learned-embued by/to an individual.

> I believe (if I am allowed to venture to use the word FAITH in this
> context) and have FAITH that the best HAIKU enters the empty heart.
> There is a precedence implied in my assertion that the empty heart
> comes first allowing that emotional moment to seep into the vessel
> of the heart (sometimes it is more a gush than a seep). It is that
> emotional essence from which the best HAIKU is sipped and
> transmuted into words and form ~or~ in reVERSE that the best HAIKU
> words are transmuted back into that essential moment to fill the
> empty heart. Either way, requires first the heart to be empty.

I may not have fully understood what you are saying here. It makes sense, but I also see sense elsewhere... For instance, if the heart is full (e.g. of joy, of love, of wisdom...), what it sees will be
coloured by the fulness of the heart. And this perception, coloured by the heart, can lead to beautiful haiku.

That is how I read Gabi's :

sacred gingko tree <>
a prayer falls
with every leaf

If the heart were not already full of awe or love of the sacred, the notion of prayer would not arise...

Perhaps, Beth san, this is where Thich Nhat Hanh's interbeing comes in... that tree, that leaf, are also part of me, their falling and my prayer are one, while I am aware of that leaf, that tree, that sacredness. He says it all so much better...

> BUT... if by FAITH you mean RELIGION and all its trappings, well,
> then, that is beyond my perview to pontificate.

The trappings ARE not faith, but they can be an aid to people in their faith. Many objects can do this -- old well-thumbed Bibles, the gestures of a priest at a Holy Communion service, church music, sacred dance, candles, as well as so many other things in many cultures and religions.

And if a haiku written about any of these is read by someone for whom they have the same meaning, then faith can touch faith...

In Kenya, certain trees are associated with worship. They grow wide and old, and are always held in awe, even now in this era of Christianity. The colonialists cut them down and built churches in their place -- and many are the stories of the church buildings which brought sorrow and grief to the communities around them... earthquakes, floods, or even collapsing for no apparent reason. The tree IS not faith, but it helps people in their faith. The cathedral where I work in Nairobi, when planning new buildings, designed the whole complex around one of those old sacred trees, which now holds a place of honour in the Cathedral compound.

You can see a couple of photos here :

Thank you for this discussion. I am so grateful. It is in discussion, interbeing with others, that I find it easier to grow...

Wishing you many beautiful haiku, this Advent!


Chibi has brought the notion of an empty/full heart into the discussion.
Here is a page of our database to reconsider these concepts:

MU, Nothingness, the Void.....無


Gabi writes:

Consider this

Religion taking care of the needs of us humans:

A Japanese baby is taken to the Shinto shrine for its first "Visit to the divine", a couple is married with a "Christian" touch in a chapel (no need to be a real Christian to get this "service") and the last way leads to a Buddhist cemetery.

I think religion in all its cultural varieties caters to the needs of humans in diverse societies, whereas my faith expresses my personal dealings with the divine or the non-divine, if I include atheism, marxism etc. here too.

I have always wondered about my "Buddhist" friends living in Christian Germany.

by the way, my haiku about ...

sacred gingko tree -
a prayer falls
with every leaf

some friends wondered,

a prayer is something that always rises !!

mmm, how about a prayer to mother earth?
or to the god of the ocean?
or a prayer going straight WEST to the paradise of Amida ? .... smile

a prayer rises ...
like smoke
into thin air

...............and some friends wondered

Leaves saying prayers?

I guess there can be four possibilities
(take this with a BIG grain of salt)

leaves say no prayers and individuals can not hear them
(natural scientists ... )

leaves say no prayers, but individuals hear them anyway
(poets ... )

leaves say prayers, but individuals can not hear them
(the usual me ... )

leaves say prayers and individuals can hear them
(mystics, those who know ...)


And by chance today in the newspaper, December 5

Globalization of ethics can bond regions

Things found on the way

facing a cold wind
Virgin of Guadalupe
on faithful shoulders

Larry Bole

The Virgin of Guadalupe . . . Haibun by Larry Bole
Mexican Kannon


a frog farting -
this too is the
voice of Buddha

a frog farting -
this too is the
voice of God

The second would be a Christian version of it.

© Gabi Greve, 2005
Buddha and the voice of God


Click for more photos about this temple !

mountain temple -
a prayer overgrown
with moss

 © Photo and Haiku : Gabi Greve, August 2008
Mountain Temple Nage-Ire Do


sacred gingko tree -
a prayer falls
with every leaf

 © Gabi Greve, LOOK HERE !


Kobayashi Issa about not saying your prayers . . .
Tr. David Lanoue

yo no naka ya inoranu nowaki kitto fuku

in this world
unprayed-for autumn gales
surely blow

yuudachi ya inoranu mura wa san do made

the village that doesn't pray
gets three

yuudachi no inoranu sato ni kakaru nari

hanging over the village
that doesn't pray

This hokku is Issa's only hokku written on 6/2/1806, a day after the biggest festival of the year for believers in Fuji-kou (富士講), a popular religion in the Edo area in Issa's time based . . .

. fujikoo 富士講 Fujiko in Edo .
groups of Mt. Fuji worshippers, Fuji pilgrims
devotional Fuji confraternities

yuudachi no inoranu sato ni kakaru nari

violent rainstorm
hits the town
even before I pray

It seems that it was Issa himself rather than the town in question who didn't pray.
... what Issa was going to pray the day after was at a tomb stone of a lady he loved long time ago. Her name is inscribed as 「香誉夏月明寿信女」.
More over, it was the 25th year after her death. Seemingly the people of the village had prayed on the day. Issa didn't want to come across with those people there. So he stalled his prayer, and alas, rainstorm came.....

- Shared by Hideo Suzuki -
Joys of Japan, 2012

The tomb is at temple Senpuku-Ji 専福寺 and the lady in question was probably O-HISA san おひさ, who died too early and left Issa at age 20, finding him now, at age 44, back at her grave.
The temple had been founded in 1504 by 槃誉久悦 to pray to Amida Nyorai, the Buddha of the Pure Land.
The haiku by Issa was probably written while he stayed at Urga 浦賀.

- Reference -


fierce sun outside
sitting alone silent
on the floor

Guyana is experience a periodical weather condition called El Nino and the local sun is unusually hot. However I still have to do my meditation sometimes in the afternoon when I am free. I understand that "sitting" mentioned in the early japanese haiku means meditation mostly. I would like to tap into these "sitting" haiku.
I think of it as a silent prayer without desire for anything .

Kenneth Daniels (GY)
source : Kigo Hotline


a trail of blood
from the altar to the door --
church grenade blast

Brian Etole
Kenya, spring 2012

Related words

***** . Lingam worship in India .

***** Puja, pooja, prayer India





Anonymous said...

The Dalai Lama once admitted, when questioned regarding his daily spiritual practices..

"Each day, more and more, I try to face up to the world as it is."

Who needs a better yoga than this?

open eyes
wintertime faces
close eyes



Bill said...

in a darkened church
my prayer

the neighborhood returns
to ordinary darkness

darkened church
she teaches her grandchild
to light a candle

low mass
the old priest believes
more than he remembers

None of these contain the word "faith," but I think it's present in them as a theme.

John McDonald said...

advent candles
flickering -
the wind's long journey

Anonymous said...

Is it not our strength that each of us experiences spirituality in a unique way? And yet it is the same river ...

the wind behind me
from the day I was born
... how could I not see?

a whisper
with each falling leaf
each sunrise
I still look for the
weeping willow's tears

at the old temple
my emptiness
takes in the restless wind
blowing from all mountains

Ella Wagemakers

anonymous said...

いつしんに祈るその父にともる燈明 シヤツと雑草 栗林一石路
いはんすべなし夏草に祈るのみ 米田双葉子
くらがりに祈る人あり蚊火の宿 玉木 愛子
たくましき夏雲海は祈る刻 原裕 葦牙
ただ祈る落花美しかりし日に 稲畑汀子 ホトトギス汀子句帖
ぬかご熟れこもごも祈る影淡き 山田 文男
はらからのここにも祈る梅雨の燭 宮武寒々 朱卓
ひと祈る大宮の上の春の月 矢島渚男 延年
われはたゞ旅すゞしかれと祈る也 涼し 正岡子規
キリストといふ語を吃り祈る秋 田川飛旅子 『植樹祭』
コスモスや祈るごとくに牛みがかれ 北原志満子
主に祈る花菜あかるき中に臥し 古賀まり子 洗 禮
乳搾る秋冷の地に祈るごと 宮坂静生 青胡桃
二階から彼岸桜を折り祈る 攝津幸彦 未刊句集
人の世の儚なさ満月に祈る 高木敏子
人は野にありても祈る金鳳華 本多静江
冬籠祈るべき神もなかりけり 寺田寅彦
冬草や身を折り曲げて祈る像 山本清稀人
凍星の高きに祈る父癒えよ 菖蒲あや 路 地
凍雲光れカール・ローザヘ祈るものに 古沢太穂 古沢太穂句集
原爆忌人は孤ならず地に祈る 飯田蛇笏
厨の手休めて祈る原爆忌 小谷久子
合歓と爆音乙女らは祈る天ありや 赤城さかえ句集
向日葵の垂れしうなじは祈るかに 篠原鳳作 海の旅
夕焼に祈る言葉も染りつゝ 山内山彦
夕野分祈るかたちの木を残す 小池文子
大寒や身ゆすり祈る哭壁に 有馬朗人 耳順
天の川頭上に重し祈るのみ 長谷川ふみ子
妻と祈る寒灯くらき下にして 成瀬桜桃子 風色
子が為に祈る一事の年の暮 石塚友二 光塵
子に祈ることあまりありくちなしの花匂ふ部屋に 中塚たづ子
岩*ひばりの登り声にて嶺に祈る 加藤知世子 花寂び
御来迎草鞋ばきの禰宜祈る 福田蓼汀 山火
悴めば祈る形に指組まれ 竹内千花
新米を祈る姿に食うべけり 矢部なずな
旅にをるおもひに祈るや女郎花 森 澄雄
日和乞ひしたる社に雨祈る 矢野藍女
春昼の背後に誰か来て祈る 横山房子
春陰に膝立ち祈る漁婦マリヤ 桂樟蹊子
有為の身の息災祈る初大師 大野雑草子
柿を食ふ手の祈るごとべッドの上 桜井博道 海上
栗を掌に余し老婆の影祈る 古舘曹人 能登の蛙
桂郎ありや祈る形に藁塚くづれ 小林康治 玄霜

More haiku about INORU

anonymous said...

Folding your hands in prayer ... gassho

あかぎれの子のみ仏に合掌す 佐藤和子
いづくともなき合掌や初御空 中村汀女
うすものを死の合掌がつき上げる 中島斌雄
うちは撒き終へて衆生に合掌す 阿以鎮雄
お遍路やものつゝみつゝ合掌す 高濱年尾 年尾句集
かくれゆく旅のごとしや葛の谿 能村登四郎 合掌部落
ことごとく合掌のさま名草の芽 鷹羽狩行
どぶろくに合掌一棟ごと匂ふ 岡井省二
にじ、この時草木國土合掌す 荻原井泉水
ふはふはと襟巻の師よ合掌す 松村蒼石 雁
みほとけの合掌月にさやけかり 大橋敦子 勾 玉以後
ものの芽に笑み合掌の童子仏 柴崎子
もみぢもみぢもみぢの山へ合掌 岡田史乃
ウランを平和へ河鹿死んでも合掌する 八木三日女
コスモスや合掌村に人を見ず 山田弘子 こぶし坂
一ぷくの茶に合掌し遍路発つ 矢野威人
二十六聖人大夕焼に合掌す 能村登四郎
人の足に乞食合掌秋天下 上野泰 春潮
今も住む合掌建てや萩の風 朝倉和江
優曇華や寂と組まれし父祖の梁 能村登四郎 合掌部落
内陣に一人合掌秋灯下 永田豊子
再会とは墓へ合掌法師蝉 平井さち子 鷹日和
冬ごもる合掌造むき~に 素逝
冬の蝶羽の合掌解きて死す 柴田奈美
冬浜に病む母載せしリヤカーゆく 能村登四郎 合掌部落
冬滝の一途さやふと合掌す 鍵和田[ゆう]子 浮標
冬濤のかなしきところ合掌す 河野静雲
冬衣合掌のとき繭臭し 澁谷道
冬隣合掌村は味噌の匂ひ 杉本寛
凍蝶の傷みなき翅合掌す 佐野まもる
凧の子の恍惚の眼に明日なき潟 能村登四郎 合掌部落
出迎への信徒合掌会式寺 上田正久日
初空や法身の弥陀に合掌す 大谷句佛 我は我
初蝶に合掌のみてほぐるるばかり 橋本多佳子
初護摩の猛る炎に合掌す 定形早春
初護摩の障子明りに合掌す 沢村春子

many more are here


anonymous said...

kitoo, prayers
some are kigo

がん封じ祈祷冬帽脱がずして 塩川雄三
一村に法螺の音ひびき初祈祷 菅野イチ子
僧院ホテルの 点るワインは 祈祷の灯 伊丹公子 パースの秋
初祈祷僧正の声よく通る 森田 純
初祈祷善女の声の波となる 田中水桜
初鳩は米享け人は祈祷受く 荒井登久子
大数珠を回す米寿の初祈祷 本間みつえ
天國(ぱらいぞ)の祈祷(おらしょ)に花の翳添へな 筑紫磐井 婆伽梵
寒雷ややがて祈祷にたちもどる 横山康夫
忌竹の湯釜焚き継ぐ春祈祷 角川源義
日だまりに祈祷を待てり初不動 川口 修
暴風の 果の 華麗な円に 祈祷る 富澤赤黄男
朝涼の祈祷歌ながる牧草地 下村ひろし 西陲集
桔梗の蕾祈祷の調度に似る 高澤良一 素抱
浅草寺百灯ゆらぐ初祈祷 高岡榮子
盆経を消す祈祷さへ口籠りて 下村ひろし 西陲集
祈祷るとき木の教会を梅雨つつむ 飛旅子
祈祷師のセーター厚く真赤なる 岩崎照子
祈祷師の倚れる炬燵の夕間暮 森田峠 避暑散歩
祈祷師の家に深雪のかゝり人 森田峠 避暑散歩
祈祷師の爪の老いざま夏終る 三谷昭 獣身
祈祷待つ愛染堂に秋の蜂 福山理正
窓の葵に祈祷の座立つ眩暈かな 龍胆 長谷川かな女
聖堂の冷えしんしんと初祈祷 大場美夜子
花りんご祈祷師牛舎を訪れり 脇坂啓子
護摩祈祷待つ日溜や初薬師 富田潮児
酒庫の祈祷しにけり今朝の冬 西山泊雲 泊雲句集
野に雪の来て白狐寺の祈祷どき 文挟夫佐恵 遠い橋
雪だね祈祷師 はらはらひろがる淋巴腺 星永文夫
青祈祷幣を飛ばしてしまひけり 茨木和生 往馬


Ella Wagemakers said...

on the roof
the sound of autumn rain
that is also prayer

I actually prefer the word meditation as opposed to prayer, which is more often associated with supplication or asking for a favour. Meditation gives me more room to see things as they are, and takes away the selfishness of wishing they were something else. That is not to say, of course, that change is not good, change also being something that is, and to close one's eyes to it would be fatal.

early fall
the sound of rain
as I fall asleep

I know
I will never find
my mother
... on our windowsill
four stones, one on the other

falling leaves
always a few left behind
when the wind blows

Quite a heavy topic, this one, Gabi. And yet we spend not enough time on it.

Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

kitooshi, kitōshi 祈祷師と伝説 Kitoshi, Legends about Shamans