Buddha Twirls a Flower
When Buddha was in Grdhrakuta mountain he turned a flower in his
fingers and held in before his listeners. Every one was silent. Only
Maha-Kashapa smiled at this revelation, although he tried to control
the lines of his face.
Buddha said: `I have the eye of the true teaching, the heart of
Nirvana, the true aspect of non-form, and the ineffable stride of
Dharma. It is not expressed by words, but especially transmitted
beyond teaching. This teaching I have given to Maha-Kashapa.'
Mumon's Comment: Golden-faced Gautama thought he could cheat
anyone. He made the good listeners as bad, and sold dog meat under
the sign of mutton. And he himself thought it was wonderful. What if
all the audience had laughed together? How could he have transmitted
the teaching? And again, if Maha-Kashapa had not smiled, how could he
have transmitted the teaching? If he says that realization can be
transmitted, he is like the city slicker that cheats the country dub,
and if he says it cannot be transmitted, why does he approve of
At the turning of a flower
His disguise was exposed.
No one is heaven or earth can surpass
Maha-Kashapa's wrinkled face.
A Zen koan from the classic collection The Gateless Gate.
Original transcription by Ben Walter and Adam Fuller of iBiblio.