In talking to Zen Master Nansen, the government official, Mike, said, “Choho taught that the heavens, earth, and I spring from the same root and that I and all things constitute of the same essence. Now this is very mystical!”
Nansen took the official to the front garden and pointed to a single rose flower, saying, “People, today, see this flower like they see a dream”.
The Mystic Rose
Mike was a learned government official and a good friend of Nansen. The statement Mike quotes is one he admired very much. But Nansen calls his attention to a rose flower, saying, in effect, many people see this flower as if it were a dream.
The flower has a very short life before it fades away; it is only a brief manifestation of the essence. Thus, people see human life and all things as temporary, transitory. But that is not the Zen way of understanding life. Life as we know it is a continuum of a higher reality that we are unable to perceive due to the barriers of our minds. Therefore, the incessant seeking for instant gratification as is the case of Mike causes many to miss on the real experience of a wakeful life.
The flower is not just a dream-like manifestation. Life is not a dream-like existence. The world of Mike and the world of Nansen are quite different. Nansen’s life and world is dynamic, positive, and subjective. Mike’s world is static, negative, objective. The Master chooses to remain subjective so that he could educate his learned friend that even knowledge shouldn’t be clinged onto.
Life, or even the beauty of a rose flower, is not something to be explained (or intellectualized). To truly understand life, one must live it.