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Grand Master Xu (Hsu) Yun Chapter 4 - The Buddha's Flower Sermon

A good teacher is better than the most sacred books. Books contain words, and Chan cannot be transmitted by mere words. I suppose you will think, "Well, if this old man says that words are useless why does he talk so much?" Religion has many mysteries and why teachers say that words can never suffice and then talk and talk until their students' ears turn to

         Illustration by Yao Xin
stone is perhaps the greatest mystery of them all.

The Buddha stood beside a lake on Mount Grdhakuta and prepared to give a sermon to his disciples who were gathering there to hear him speak.

As the Holy One waited for his students to settle down, he noticed a golden lotus blooming in the muddy water nearby. He pulled the plant out of the water- flower, long stem, and root. Then he held it up high for all his students to see. For a long time he stood there, saying nothing, just holding up the lotus and looking into the blank faces of his audience.

Suddenly his disciple, Mahakashyapa, smiled. He understood!

What did Mahakashyapa understand? Everybody wants to know. For centuries everybody's been asking, "What message did the Buddha give to Mahakashyapa?"

Some people say that the root, stem, and flower represented the Three Worlds: underworld, earth, and sky, and that the Buddha was saying that he could hold all existence in the palm of his hand. Maybe.

Some people say he was reversing the Great Mantra, "Mani Padme hum" The Jewel is in the Lotus. When the Buddha held the flower in his hand, the Lotus was in the Jewel. Hmmm.

[Introduction]  [Chapter 1]  [Chapter 2]  [Chapter 3]  [Chapter 4]  [Chapter 5]  [Chapter 6]
[Chapter 7]  [Chapter 8]  [Chapter 9]  [Chapter 10]  [Chapter 11]  [Chapter 12]  [Chapter 13]
Last modified: July 11, 2004
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