Home » Excerpts » How The Buddha Turned Arrows Into Flowers

Cultivation is
more transformation
of the unskilful
than its eradication.

– Shilashanti

In the hours preceding his final enlightenment, when he is doing battle with his ego, the Buddha’s tormentors shoot volleys of arrows at him. Some people interpret this barrage as representing the internal enemies of anger, intolerance, and pride while others see it as symbolic of the rage of eternal foes. Whichever interpretation one prefers, the outcome is the same. The arrows turn into bouquets of flowers as they rain down upon him. They do not hurt the Buddha, whose mirrorlike wisdom has outmaneuvered his ego. The power of his understanding turns the arrows into harmless objects of beauty [to honour him]…

“Why do the arrows not touch him?” his grandmother [of Phong Bui] ask… The usual answer has to do with the Buddha’s conquering of anger. Because he has stopped his own angry reactions, the arrows cannot hurt him… “Because he is not there.”… The Buddha, in getting over himself [i.e. his ego, he] did not vanish. In fact, his presence became even more powerful, his “being” a vehicle of transformation for those around him… He had stopped his ego, and those around him could feel it.

Advice Not Given: A Guide To Getting Over Yourself
Mark Epstein M.D.   

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