The Buddha received many offerings from devotees during his life time. From a simple ladle of gruel begged at householder’s door to a lavish reception hosted by the Kings and wealthy merchants; he accepted them equally.
However, stories of miraculous offerings are those that are simplest but made with a pure heart.
Many have heard the story of how a little broken lamp offered by an old female beggar outshone the rest. In that story, she had to undergo much trouble and ridicule to obtain a broken oil lamp. Her lamp did not extinguish from a strong gust of wind and remained the only one that is lighted, shining brightly to illuminate the entire Dharma hall. She offered her lamp with a pure mind.
Another story that I like relates to offering of flowers.
There was a flower seller who supplied the king’s palace with fresh flowers every day. On his way to the palace, he sighted the Buddha walking. He was greatly inspired by the sight and decided to offer something. However, he only had the palace flowers with him.
At that moment it occurred to him that the flowers were meant for the King’s palace and if he failed to deliver them, he would probably get himself into trouble.
Nonetheless, he decided that it is a rare opportunity to encounter the Buddha and felt that he cannot miss that golden opportunity. He was mentally prepared to accept any punishment from the palace for not making his delivery.
Without further thought, he strewn the flowers into the air as offerings when the Buddha neared him. When he threw the flowers over the Buddha, something miraculous happened.
Instead of falling to the ground, the flowers were suspended in the air. Next, they started to rearrange themselves into a network and formed a canopy that hovered above the Buddha like an umbrella. Then the remaining flowers form a “netting” surrounding the Buddha on all sides except the front. The flowers hovered at their designated location to form an intricate patterned net. Each flower rotating on its own, suspended in the air.
Imagine the sight!
Buddha acknowledged the offerings and continued to walk. The flower canopy and nettings followed and hovered around him! This miracle lasted a whole day and Buddha walk around town for all to see.
People started gathering to witness the sight and followed the Buddha back to the monastery.
Meanwhile, the king heard about the commotion in town and also received news that there were no flowers for that day. He went to see the Buddha too.
When he heard about the flower merchant’s offering to Buddha, he did not punish the flower merchant but rewarded him instead.
With such a huge turnout at the Monastery, Buddha delivered a sermon for all.
I just can’t stop my imagination thinking about this miracle. It must have been so beautiful with all those flowers hovering around Buddha.
When I first owned a Buddha statue, I would pluck wild mimosa from the roadside on my way home from school. I would imagine that they are magical pearls and heap them nicely as offerings to Buddha.