Saturday, 2 October 2010

Buddha on Flowers

Sayings of Buddha on "Flowers".
Rendered in haiku form.

This is fourth in the series.

The painting is by Odilon Redon. I know very little about him, but he also painted the "Red Boat with Blue[?!] Sail" in my avatar.

Who will examine
This earthen body as if
Examining flowers?

Who will delve beyond
The kingdoms of men and gods
In search of rare truths?

You shall do all this,
And on the path of truth find
Flowers beyond compare.

Froth on a wave’s crest,
An evanescent mirage,
Such is this body.

Mind out the three flowers
Of pleasure, will and knowledge.
Their gifts are fleeting.

Flowers hide arrows.
Shun their allure and move on
Like fish shunning bait.

Picking and choosing
Flowers in the garden of life,
The vase stays empty.

Vainly loitering,
Death will sweep him up, like floods
A sleeping village.

As the bee collects
Nectar, not harming the flower,
So the wise should live.

Do not watch others,
Of their deeds or of their faults.
Judge only yourself.

No use to oneself
Is beauty without fragrance,
Words without practice.

How joyful to have
Flowers beautiful and fragrant,
Words lived in practice!

Flowers make fine garlands.
So too the wise can arrange
Their wealth to do good.

No scent blows upwind,
No fragrance of flower or tree,
Except for virtue.

Sandalwood smells fine,
Rosebay, jasmine, lotus too,
But virtue’s supreme.

Desire afflicts not
The virtuous and mindful ones,
Their way free from dust.

How sweet the lotus
That has emerged out of mud
To share its perfume.

Like one awakened,
Emerging among the blind,
May you too shine forth.


  1. Ah, that was a beautiful blossom!

  2. There's a kind of ambivalence to those flowers, recognizing both their power, but also the danger of attachment to that power.

    I was thinking of posting another darker painting by Redon, but despite the warnings, the flowers are still overall a positive. In the last two verses, after all, the enlightened one is compared to the beautiful lotus flower.

  3. Well, that is beatiful for its symbology. I like my flowers wild.

  4. Well, I wish I understood the symbology!

  5. *idea, paint an eyeball on your forehead and look in the mirror?

  6. Ahhh, yes!

    And I've heard the jewel revealed (at the centre of the lotus when it opens up) represents the "perfection of wisdom".

    I don't "see" what you're saying about the third eye, but I am actually quite familiar with the lotus as a symbol in Buddhism. It's the visual symbology that gets me...

    Like in the Redon painting I linked to, and other of his paintings. A purple flower with teeth... a flower that grows down into the vase... fallen petals that look very strange, etc. Perhaps there are deeper meanings, or perhaps it's an exercise in the absurd. I don't have the eye of the art critic to read all kinds of things into it that the painter hadn't even intended.