Beauty in the Thorns

Bougainvillea flowers are very beautiful when they bloom. Once all the flowers and leaves have fallen off, the branches will show their thorns. Nobody in this world likes thorns. It hurts when you touch them. But it is part of a natural process. Whatever appears will stay for some time and then it will vanish.

Before the Bougainvillea goes through the cycle of decaying, in front of our eyes are bare branches full of thorns. Practicing Zen teaches us how to use our senses. When using our eyes, just see without adding any emotions to it, then we can see clearly the object in front of us. We can easily find something beyond the surface of the object. 

Yes, one flower is still hanging there. Yes, the sun is setting too. They are fascinating.

Same as our life situations. Sometimes we will go through very difficult times and thorny moments. In those moments, keep this practice: when seeing, just see, and don’t just focus on the thorns and the bare plant. Practice just observing, and you will be surprised that you can see more than the thorny parts; you can see beauty in the situation. Those beautiful moments are very important to us. They teach us not to feel sorry about the unbearable thorny parts but to find beauty in the background that surrounds them. 

This is life. Life reflects wisdom and beauty in each happening.

Excerpted from "Teaching From Nature" #30 - Zen Master Dae Kwan