Crone Chronicles, Autumn 1999. No. 40, p. 41.
"I Saw A Flower Flame"
Walking back from the place by the edge of the river where I do my daily sitting meditation and my tai chi and kung fu forms, I happened to pass some petunias flowering in front of a brownstone. I was hit with a rush by the flowers as if they were on fire.
It was only as I walked on down the sidewalk that the words "I saw a flower flame" burst into my astonished mind and it struck me -- this is what the disciple felt when Buddha held up the blossom between his fingers and this is also what the Buddha himself felt when he plucked that flower and held it up.
What I might have passed by as inconsequential, were I laboring over stale and habitual thoughts, I chanced to notice because I was walking down the street with a "space" playing somewhere near the center of my mind. I happened to be "empty" just at that instant when I came upon the flowers. Hence, they flashed out at me.
Of course flowers flash. How else would they attract their bees? They are built that way. Their color pigments shimmer the atmosphere.
It's like a very beautiful woman moving gracefully down the street. Her presence emanates. Who hasn't noticed such a thing? It is very unlikely we would ever link something like this with enlightenment. Yet it is somehow linked -- in the sense that to see what cries out to be seen, what is obvious and right before our noses, is a rare and special gift.
It's not just in the beautiful or the colorful, the pretty and the clean, that this flame plays. No. It is in everything. It can leap out of anything. The very next day I was walking down a street in midtown, on my way to work. My eyes happened to fall upon some grime and garbage on the sidewalk and I was unexpectedly overwhelmed with the transcendent beauty of the ugly, the foul, the besmirched. My soul was lifted in a transport of wondrous acceptance. I felt happy to be at home in the world just as it was, so glad to be alive.
The miracle is happening all the time but we only notice it when we sink, inadvertently and perhaps for only a fleeting instant, into the peace at the heart of it all. The moment the jarring noise of our habitual perturbation ceases, the melody of who we really are leaps out at us in all its splendor. It was there all along.