The Buddha’s Flower
Once when the World-Honoured One, in ancient times, was upon Mount Grdhrakuta, he held up a flower before the congregation of monks. At this time all were silent, but the Venerable Kasyapa only smiled. The World-Honoured One said, “I have the Eye of the True Law, the secret Essence of Nirvana, the Formless Form, the Mysterious Law-Gate. Without relying upon words and letters, beyond all teaching as a special transmission, I pass all this on to Mahakasyapa.
Golden-faced Kudon impudently forced the good people into depravity. Advertising sheep’s heads, he sells dog-flesh,- but with some genius. However, supposing that at the time all the monks had laughed, how would the “all-including eye of the absolute truth” have been handed on? Or if Kasyapa had not smiled, how would it have been handed? If you say, it can (anyway) be handed on, that’s the Golden-faced Old Huckster with his loud voice swindling at the town-gate. If you say it can’t, why did Buddha say he had handed it on to Kasyapa?
Holding up a flower,
The snake shows his tail.
The monks don’t know what to do.
As translated by R.H. Blyth