Butterflies drink deep of the
Flowers, and the dragonflies
Dipping the surface of the
Water again and again.
I cry out to the Spring wind,
And the light and the passing hours,
We enjoy life such a little
While, why should men cross each other?
– Tu Fu (translated by Kenneth Rexroth)
In Southern California, we have flowers all year long. Still, springtime brings its special ones, like the wildflowers that decorate the sand dunes along the coast and the chaparral, and carpet the desert, and soon in the cities, the jacaranda trees will blossom in purple splendor. Occasionally, I see a butterfly, usually a Monarch, fluttering in the air, but for some reason butterflies seem rare these days, and I can’t remember when I last saw a dragonfly.
At least we have a multitude of flowers and in so many different colors. They represent not only beauty, but serenity and hope. Once, there was a language of flowers, called floriography. It was way of communication during the Victorian-era in which messages were sent, using a variety of flowers and floral arrangements as a code to express thoughts and feelings that could not be said with spoken words.The language of flowers is thought to be a dead language, but I think we still converse in it from time to time.
In this violent, sometimes ugly world, flowers brighten our hearts. Tu Fu’s line about why should men cross each other reminds me of Martin Richard, one of the victims of the Boston bombing, and the photograph where he holds a sign that reads “No more hurting people.”
We cannot hide from the suffering and sadness around us. It’s no good wishing it would go away. It won’t.
But we can appreciate the beauty of the world, especially the tender and delicate flowers of spring, and let them remind us of compassion and joy. We can even try to emulate them.
Buddhism has often been compared to the sun, and we, human beings, to flowers, which rise up from the dirt of suffering to blossom and flourish in the garden of life. We need sustenance, too, to carry out life’s activities.
Be like the flowers and bend to the sun.
Put your heart in the sun and the sun in your heart.