A few weeks ago I attended a teaching with Pema Chödrön at the wonderful Omega Institute. She was talking about the first of the six paramitas, generosity, and how it relates to openness, to lightness.
Ani Pema described how we are like a fist that’s closed tight, one that needs to be pried open, finger by finger. Even as the last finger is opening, the first one is starting to clamp shut again. Opening up is not a ka-pow! all-at-once process, she explained, but more of a bit by bit, back and forth kind of endeavor.
This week I was thinking of her words as I saw the first peonies of the season, who clearly care not for Buddhist teachings. The peonies are not back and forth, open and closed, bit by bit. They are ka-pow, not blooming but exploding, beyond any idea of what should be possible or proper. To look at a peony in full bloom is to laugh out loud. What an awesome, absurd exaggeration of a flower.
Dear friends, as we try to unclench our fists, let’s take the peony as proof of what is possible. It’s safer for those petals to stay sealed up in their golf-ball buds, protected and unseen. But woah, what glory when they bust loose.