According to Zen tradition, Mahākāśyapa was the first to receive Dharma transmission from Gautama Buddha. Zen purports to lead its adherents to insights akin to that mentioned by Śākyamuni Buddha in his Flower Sermon in which he held up a white flower and just admired it in his hand. All the other disciples just looked on without knowing how to react, but Mahākāśyapa smiled faintly, and Śākyamuni Buddha picked him as one who truly understood him and was worthy to be his successor. (This can be explained thus: Mahākāśyapa’s spiritual attainment had reached the point where he could understand the hidden meanings conveyed by the Buddha’s act, as two people who have gone through the same experiences understand each other completely.)
We have many secret flowers in our everyday life, and when one is given and received, it is never forgotten. And yet no one knows it happened. Not even the one who gives the secret flower knows it has been exchanged. What is this Secret Flower?
Secret flowers are passed from heart to heart beneath the crust of logic and thought. The heart always works in secret. The only sign that a flower has been transmitted is a smile that is also a secret. Beneath religions, philosophy and even consciousness itself, These flowers are being shared, passed from one heart to another, without anyone noticing.
The secret flower never has a reason or purpose, nor does is it logical. That’s why they are secret. Secret flowers are always spontaneous. You cannot try to give one. When you get a secret flower, there is only one requirement to keep it fresh; you must pass it on.