Flowers issue a silent summons to see things as things are—not as they should be or as we might want them to be, just as they are. To see as babies see.
Does beauty work? The Buddha’s “flower sermon” was wordlessly eloquent on this question. Jesus pointed to field lilies. “Notice,” he said, “how they don’t work.” From what is perhaps the greatest spiritual book ever written: “When nothing is done, nothing remains undone.” Epigraphically, “He worked hard” evokes a sense of limitation and sadness. Conscious doing and hard work? Call it the distance between here and Pluto.
The greater the effort, the more self-serving the result. Love is an action, not an effort. We are told to take our instruction in how not to make an effort from field flowers.
To be liked, please other people. (People like us when we please them.)
To be loved, please yourself. For this, indifference is required. (Praise and criticism are two ends of the same pencil.)
Beauty is utterly indifferent.
The likelihood is very great that no one reading today’s post will see out the century. Billions upon billions have come and gone before us. In the face of this, what relevance is there in the story of me? Life is not about me. I am part of a much bigger story. Shall I ignore the fact that the light from this morning’s sun has travelled 93 million miles to vivify the 33 red flowers standing companionably together in the mustard-coloured vase just to the right of me?