People learn different lessons by interpreting stories differently. This holds true for the story of Buddha picking a flower and eliciting a smile from his disciple, Mahakasyapa. Grandmaster JinBodhi once had a conversation with his master about this. What did the conversation explore, and what inspiration can be drawn from it? Watch this teaching by Grandmaster JinBodhi and be inspired by the cycle of life.

【You will learn】

  • Understand the truth behind The Flower Sermon, the famous story about the origin of Zen Buddhism.

【Featured aphorisms】

  • l A flower’s petals mark its journey toward fruit-bearing, as well as its journey toward death.
  • l Death is not the end but the beginning of a new life cycle.


After meditation, the Buddha picked a flower from the field. Facing everyone, he asked them for an answer.

I asked my master the meaning of this allusion.

The Meaning behind a Plucked Flower

Before I left my Master, I remember asking him a question. I said, “You told me a story. Once after Buddha’s meditation, he picked a flower from the field. Facing everyone, he asked them for an answer. Everyone was shocked except for one senior disciple. He stayed silent and smiled.”

I asked my master the meaning of this allusion. Does it mean enlightenment, as the flower was blooming? I pondered on it for days. Finally I told him my answer. I thought my master would praise me for it. Instead, he said, “The moment a flower bloom is also when it withers.” “Then why was the senior disciple smiling?” Master said, “The world is filled with all kinds of idiots.”

So I’m also telling you this embarrassing situation I was in. I still don’t understand the conversation to this day. What are your thoughts? Do you like flowers? Now many people are afraid to answer and nod.

Blooming signifies the plant is about to bear fruit. It also represents the end of a journey. Blooming marks the beginning of an end. What is there to smile about? But now as I think about it, what is there to be sad about? So the disciple said with a smile, “A new life had just begun.” And that is why he was smiling. So Buddha gave him a knowing and satisfied gaze, and smiled.

Thus, there is no real death in life. It undergoes a constant cyclical transformation. Due to our actions and karma, we become different lifeforms throughout this Universe.