Extending Compassionate Action

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Extending through teaching (continued)

Spiritually, transmission of the Dharma is a crucial, even a crowning form of expression. It too qualifies as compassionate action. Shakyamuni, teacher of teachers, once gazed out at the upturned faces of the disciples who had assembled for his lecture. Without a word, he took a flower and held it up. Only one of the monks, Mahakashyapa, smiled in comprehension. Then Shakyamuni announced to the assembly, "Mahakashyapa understands me completely. He is my spiritual heir."

The image in the Wheel for this path alludes to that archetypal story, so rich in meaning. How does Shakyamuni, or anyone, communicate the inexpressible? And what realization enables Mahakashyapa, or anyone, to know that a single flower completely expounds the Dharma ? The answer must be experienced—and confirmed.