Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Bike Story

65 years ago my bike tire got caught in a crack in the middle of the paved alley in Chicago. I came home with skinned knees. My mom explained that the reason for my accident was because I wanted attention since all the attention had been on my cousin Noel who died in an accident 6 months earlier. How is it that we look at what happened and are confused until we make up a story like my mom always did? Is it ever so simple as the story suggests? Buddha holds up a flower and Kashyapa smiles. Usually when one is giving a talk to 80000 monks they would say something. When there are no words, one makes up a story. Our minds resist resting in not knowing, so we come up with one explanation after another. But is anything that simple? Is it possible to really know? Freud believed that there was a method to our madness. I wonder if his method came from an insecurity he had with not knowing. But that’s my story.

Monday, March 29, 2021

Did the flower smile? (blog.kimmosley.com)

What do you say when there is nothing to say. A tragedy strikes your friend when her loved one passes on. Whatever you want to say won’t bring them back and won’t comfort. And yet if you say nothing you worry that they’ll think you didn’t care. You bring them a flower. Your eyes meet. Then they glance at the flower and you discern a faint smile. Did they smile at the flower? Or was it a smile at your gesture? Or was it simply a smile at the connection? Did Kashyapa really smile at the flower? The flower didn’t need a smile. But your friend did. Perhaps the smile was a meta smile, from millions of miles away, a smile recognizing what would take more words than the sands of the Ganges to express.

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Buddha’s decision to hold up a flower was entirely spontaneous, as was a brush stroke by Picasso or a note played by Pablo Casals. Buddha wasn’t a newbie. He had paid his dues. For 500 lifetimes he’d been the attendant for previous Buddhas. He knew his way around the block. When Ananda stuck a blade of grass in the ground, Buddha saw that now there was a temple. There doesn’t seem to be in Zen a correlation between the time spend in deliberation and the quality of the action. Holding up the flower was a masterful stroke of genius, and yet, it was the result of genuine flow rather from racking one’s discursive brain to come up with the perfect testing instrument. “May what I do flow from me like a river, no forcing and no holding back, the way it is with children.” ―Rainer Maria Rilke

Friday, March 26, 2021

He talks with his glove...

Buddha holds up a flower or did he become the flower? The flower was not a conceptual idea, but rather an extension of his own compassion and love. The 80,000 monks minus one didn’t digest the flower into their inner beings. Rather, their small grasping minds were confused. They wanted to be chosen by Buddha to be his successor. They studied everything so that they’d be prepared. And yet what they had learned was quicksand. The harder they tried to “figure it out” the deeper they were buried. Kashyapa also learned the dharma, but was able to hold it very gingerly. Seeing the flower, he saw both its exquisite present form, what it had been in previous lives, and what it would become as it turned to dust and went back into the earth. I don’t think he was smiling at Buddha’s gesture. That would suggest he wasn’t touched by the flower itself. If words could have taken the place of the flower, Buddha could have simple said, “beautiful flower.” But for the hand to hand transmission to take place, there had to be more. There had to be a flower representing life itself, rather than a description of life. In an article about a young baseball player I read, “He doesn’t talk with his mouth, …he talks with his glove and his bat...” And Buddha talked with the flower. As did Kashyapa.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Kashyapa smiled faintly, broadly, or not only smiled but laughed when Buddha held up the flower and winked. Many memories here. Was this an enlightenment moment for Kashyapa? Was his reaction purely spontaneous to the white flower? Did thoughts race through his head as he heard or imagined the other monks dissecting the flower with their well-trained discursive minds? Did he have any ambition to be Buddha’s successor? How does one prepare for a special moment when they need to just “get it”? How is it that Buddha taught for 45 years and yet chose the student with the smile rather than the one with the brilliant discourse?

Sunday, March 14, 2021


I planned to show my progress in figuring out this koan. She corrected me, saying we don’t really make progress. Rather, we illuminate jewels. This connects to Connie’s way of walking through the woods. She doesn’t walk to get any place, rather she walks to walk.. to feel the earth under her feet, to see the trees in front of her, and to follow the clouds moving through the sky. Is that progress?

Saturday, March 13, 2021

Be Prepared—Not (blog.kimmosley.com)

As a Boy Scout, I worshipped the “be prepared” motto. It was my way to deal with life. The want-to-be monks at the Flower Sermon were well-prepared. They knew the Dharma and had a solid meditation practice. Yet when Buddha admired the flower their preparedness blocked their transmission. But what about Kasjapa? His mind was open and fertile. Buddha transmitted with him because Kasjapa didn’t have any expectations. He was fortunately un(der)prepared. That's virtuosity.

Friday, March 12, 2021

All Flowers Everywhere

Kashyapa swims in a boundless sea of flowers.

Cousin Brian wrote, “He held up all flowers everywhere.” When I imagine all that know this story of the Buddha holding up a flower, I can see all flowers being held up simultaneously, throughout space and time. Not only am I holding up a lotus, but so did those who preceded me as did my children and their children. Flowers filled the room. Flowers filled outside the room as far as Kashyapa could see. There was nothing but flowers.

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Which flower did he hold up?

Buddha held up a flower. Sometimes it is depicted as a pure white lotus, but I like it better when it is a lotus with its roots dripping mud. That’s who I was today when I led service and messed up the robe chant. There were hopefully some moments where the “beautiful” end of the flower was revealed, but the mud was there as well. The point is not to be a stone buddha, nor to be a wild animal. It is the pure white lotus and the mud, all in one bundle. That's why Kashyapa smiled... or not.

Joshua, 1980