Friday, November 26, 2010

Chinese Sacred Lilies

I lived in Hawai'i briefly, and it was there i met the Chinese sacred lily. Sherman Tom, a friend of a friend, was forcing these narcissus for Chinese New Year.

Back on the Mainland, i became familiar with paperwhites, but many years passed before i found the Chinese sacred lily (Tazetta orientalis) for sale at our local garden center.

Chinese sacred lilies--which are not lilies at all--have fewer flowers than paperwhites. The Chinese sacred lily has pale yellow petals with a petite orange cup, while paperwhites are, well, white.

We might occasionally notice that our friend's meditation practice is showier than ours--there's more paraphernalia, more chanting, more men (where are the women?) in exotic clothing. Perhaps all we have is a cushion; or maybe just a chair.

That's really all we need. A place to sit quietly and root our practice, perhaps in the dark, behind closed eyes.

What i love about the Chinese sacred lily is its sweet fragrance--a big improvement over the smell of paperwhites. Our simple meditation practice can also yield a moment of deep pleasure.

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