This is the story that gets told as the beginning of the Zen tradition. The Buddha was a beloved and well known spiritual teacher. People just followed him around and listened to what he had to say. He would regularly just get up in front of a crowd and start dispensing wisdom.
On one occasion he stood up before a crowd. They were all very excited, thinking they were about to hear some great wisdom, something that would really awaken or encourage them.
The Buddha stood up and just stood there silently. Then, he held up a flower.
So, we can imagine, the crowd is thinking “What the fuck?” They were expecting some great, serious, profound teaching and they didn’t get one. It was just a flower.
They were holding onto their expectations, memories, and disappointment.
And one guy in the crowd smiled.
Why did he smile?
He smiled because he wasn’t holding on to anything. When he saw the flower, it was just a flower. He wasn’t carrying all the baggage and expectations that we often carry. Sometimes a flower is just a flower.
This story is meant to inspire and encourage us. If he can see the flower and just see a flower, so can we. We don’t have to bring all of our baggage into every situation all the time. We can also just smile at a flower.
here’s a video about this story:
here’s the audio version:
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