Flowers From Long Ago

Flowers From Long Ago
I remember the one time in my lay life when a woman brought me flowers, and for no particular reason either. I had her over my place a few times to play guitar. She was just learning and I thought it would be fun to have her over to play guitar with her. We knew each other from an NGO that did some volunteer work with some kids at a housing project. We used to take them ice-skating or for other activities like mini-golf and pizza. I was a regular helper and so was she.

When she brought me flowers, I think she had seen earlier that my flowers I bought for myself were kept a few days longer than the appropriate shelf life. She wanted to brighten up my room when she visited me. I remember being on "Cloud-Nine" while I was putting them in a vase with water. Elated in the kitchen while she was in the next room, I said like a child loudly to nobody but myself,
"You brought me flowers! She brought me flowers!" 🙂 🙂 🙂

During that time, I was not interested in her as a girlfriend, but that event certainly ranks high on my big list of "One of the nicest things anyone has done for me" when I was a layman.

Much time has passed since then and I have been a monk for many years. In Buddhism we learn that people, relationships and just about everything else are only like flowers.

They are all impermanent.

Now that I am a monk, I can get perpetual flowers for my Buddha nearly all of the time at Pa-Auk and "Cloud-Nine" is no stranger. However, all things are transient.

My usual flower reflection in Pāḷi is below with an English translation:

Ayaṁ puppha-pūjā Buddha-pacceka-buddha-agga-sāvaka- mahā-sāvaka-arahantādīnaṁ sabhāva-sīlaṃ. Aham'pi tesaṃ anuvattako homi.

This flower-offering is a natural practice of Buddhas, Silent-buddhas, Chief Disciples, Great Disciples, Arahants, etc. I, too, am a follower of their [practice].

Idaṃ pupphaṃ idāni vaṇṇena'pi suvaṇṇaṃ gandhena'pi su- gandhaṃ saṇṭhānena'pi susaṇṭhānaṁ. Khippam-eva dubbaṇ-ṇaṃ duggandhaṁ dussaṇṭhānaṃ aniccataṁ pāpuṇissati.

This flower is now beautiful with colour; fragrant with scent; with form well shaped, [but] soon it will become discoloured, foul-smelling and disfigured.

Evam-eva kho sabbe saṇkhārā aniccā, sabbe saṇkhārā dukkhā, sabbe dhammā anattā'ti.

So, too, all compounded things are impermanent and painful, and all things (conditioned and unconditioned) are not self.

(It was a long time ago and my memory may have varied a bit. This was the hybrid version that came to my mind)


Article by Bhikkhu Subhuti

Bhikkhu Subhuti is an American Buddhist Monk with roots in both Sri Lanka and Myanmar Forest Traditions. He currently resides in Myanmar but his heart sometimes floats back to Kauai, HI where he spent six months in 2015.