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Crypto Floriography

Day 11 NaPoWriMo 2020

(Photo by Aashish Vaidya)


Crypto Floriography

Burrowed, deep in mud
at night, only to slowly,
in morning, emerge,
unsullied, above water,
delicately beautiful.

Plucked freshly from pond,
roots dripping in mud, clenched bud
now fully open.
Those assembled seem confused
at Buddha’s wordless sermon.

Seeing a simple
object of immaculate
beauty, within few
moments, a disciple smiles,
as the meaning dawns. Pure Zen.

Notes:  Day 11 of NaPoWriMo 2020.  The prompt “is based on the concept of the language of flowers. Have you ever heard, for example, that yellow roses stand for friendship, white roses for innocence, and red roses for love? Well, there are as many potential meanings for flowers as there are flowers. The Victorians were particularly ga-ga for giving each other bouquets that were essentially decoder-rings of meaning. For today, I challenge you to write a poem in which one or more flowers take on specific meanings. And if you’re having trouble getting started, why not take a gander at this glossary of flower meanings? (You can find a plain-text version here). Feel free to make use of these existing meanings, or make up your own.”

Recounting Buddha’s wordless Flower Sermon, where he holds up a flower.  The act confused all the disciples, except one. Seeing the gesture, Mahakasyapa, smiles and is immediately enlightened.  Though, modern scholars believe the sermon is most likely an invention, it is illustrative of Zen Buddhism, with its emphasis on the experiential over dogma or doctrine.


Relevant to the prompt – the flower held up by Buddha was a lotus.  A zen master would invariably think the thI suppose I should have tried harder, instead of coming up with three tankas to depict the Flower Sermon – in this the flower being lotus – Nelumbo Nucifera, typically, a symbol of purity. It has various meanings to many asian religious traditions, including Buddhism.  The picture is one of yellow flower, typically the Indian Lotus flowers are usually pink.


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