It’s a Purple World

In Los Angeles, the Jacaranda trees are in bloom. The annual suffusion of the purple-blue flowers makes this my favorite time of the year. I posted the three photos here a few years ago, and I am re-posting them for the benefit of those who may not be familiar with these wonderful trees. You can find more Jacaranda photos at my photography website.

I’m not sure how many Jacaranda trees there are in Southern California, but I do know, for instance, that the city of Pasadena alone has over 3,500. Although there are 49 species of the tree. The Jacaranda mimosifolia or Blue Jacaranda in SoCal come from Argentina, Bolivia and Brazil and are a less blue than the native trees in those countries.

Jacarandas can reach 60 feet high.

The trees can make a real mess, but no one seems to mind. As soon as they bloom, the flowers begin to drop, covering the lawns, sidewalks, driveways and cars like lavender snow.

Like the sakura or cherry blossoms for the Japanese, the jacarandas to me represent the transient nature of life. They remind me of the phrase chen-k’ung miao-yu or “true emptiness, wondrous existence.”

“True emptiness” because all things are conditioned and transient, and thereby unreal, empty. “Wondrous existence” because life is beautiful, mysterious, and subtle.

According to the light of the profound realization of the silent void emerges the difference of great and small, followed by the consequences of good and evil, and the manifest appearance of phenomena with names and forms; so that the realms of desire, form, and formlessness in the ten directions are seen as clearly as a jewel held in the palm of an outstretched hand. Amidst this the dynamism of True Emptiness and Wondrous Existence permeates all things within the infinite universe.”

– Sot’aesan (1891-1943), founder of Won Buddhism

 More Jacaranda photos at davidriley.org

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2 thoughts on “It’s a Purple World

  1. David, good post, good pics!

    You write: “The trees can make a real mess, but no one seems to mind.” I find this extraordinary. Here in upstate NY suburbia people complain regularly about trees “making a mess” including the analogous time here, fall, with its spectacular colors. Over the years at least 20 trees have been cut down in our neighborhood, with most people expressing relief at being rid of the messy trees.

    Thanks for this post.

    1. Thank you. I’ve never heard anyone complain about the jacaranda flowers, but maybe some folks do mind. I don’t. My pet peeve is that the so-called gardeners in this town know absolutely nothing about trimming trees. You might find this experience with tree trimming and cutting down to be of interest: Even Plants and Trees Have Buddha-nature.

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