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Buddha Flowers - Udumbara

26 July 2007

On a Saturday morning this month (14 July to be precise), Monk Bright Nothingness (明空师傅) at the Complete Awareness Monastery (圆觉寺), situated in Huaiyin Village of Dongzhi Town in Shanxi Province’s Wutai County (山西省五台县东冶镇槐荫村), got up from deep meditation. He had been in a Closing Gate session for nearly three months since 16 April, during which time he had not received a single visitor, and had not spoken to a single soul. Now there were only two more days left for him to conclude his annual retreat.

That morning, Bright Nothingness of the Complete Awareness strode leisurely into the courtyard, completely unaware that he might be walking straight into a historical event that allegedly occurs only once in 3,000 years, which would later on give him a lot of things to talk about to a huge number of visitors flocked to his temple.

But before that very moment, at ten past seven, he was just standing there appreciating the sight of an iron wire hung across the field to dry his clothes.

He was never into fashion but forever dons the boring robe of monk, so the plain view of his clothes - even indeed there were any hanging there at the time - did not inspire him much. Yet the humble iron wire somehow amazed him greatly: He detected some alien presence. So he stepped forward for a close inspection. There he saw a small bunch of white bell-shaped flowers, each about 1 mm in diameter, supported by floss-like tiny stems growing on the bare iron wire.

Udumbara (优昙婆罗花) ?! The very reflection upon this name shook his soul with awe.

What is udumbara then?

According to the Dirghagama (Long Sayings) Sutra (《长阿含经》), before the World Honoured One Sakyamuni, there were six Earth-bound mortals who achieved their complete realisation and attained their perfect Buddhahood, and one of them experienced that great leap beyond when he sat right under a blossomed udumbara tree. It is further said that the udumbara flowers would not be seen again until 3,000 years later when another great event on the similar scale emerges, and that very event is specified as the coming of the Dharma Wheel King (转轮王).

The interesting thing is that this year, 2007, as Monk Bright Nothingness could remember nothing more clearly, is year 3032 in the Buddhist calendar.

In fact the white flowers in the Chinese monastery were not the first udumbara blossoms this round. More than two years ago in the middle of February of 2005, the white buds were allegedly detected on the face of a giant Buddha statue in a South Korean temple. But what makes the flowering event in the Complete Awareness truly extraordinary is, that two days after the initial blossom, in the morning when Monk Bright Nothingness was about to surface from his season-long retreat, seven udumbara buds surfaced on a red cloth. This time their appearance was much more vibrant - all in a bright golden colour. And the yellow flowers, unlike their white counterparts that opened at night only, were able to keep their illustrious presence throughout the day, and day after day.

When the udumbara tale in the Complete Awareness became aware by the general public through the media reports and online posts, more similar stories emerged, and all seem to happen during the month of July.

Udumbara blossoms were found on 6 July on a front windshield glass of a light-duty vehicle belonging to Mr Jiang in Jilin Province.

In Shengyang, 38 white flowers were seen on a steel tube in a vegetable garden.

And seven udumbara blossoms reportedly grew on 13 July on a plastic box at Ms Cao’s Hong Kong residence.

Of course, there is still much debate over whether these strange buds are indeed udumbara flowers that suppose to inform the coming of the Dharma Wheel King to our mortal world. But one thing most people tend to agree with each other is that anyone who claims himself to be the incarnation of the Wheel King can be anything but the true Wheel King.

That is because, 大音无声,大象希形, great sound can not be heard and great shape can not be discerned.

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