The Udambara flower, or “an auspicious flower from heaven” in Sanskrit, is, according to Buddhist scripture, a flower that blooms only once every 3,000 years. And when it does bloom, it brings with it an omen – that the birth of a Buddha has taken place.
The Udumbara blossom, according to some Buddhists, is a sign that the Holy King Who Turns the Wheel has arrived to rectify the Dharma in the world. The King is not necessarily Buddhist, but can hail from any religious affiliation, offering salvation through compassion.
This flower has been spotted around the world in the last 20 years. It’s very tiny and fragrant, resting atop a thin stem. And although it looks fragile, it is incredibly resilient. It has been kept for years without decay and has even sprung back to life after being crushed.
Its first sighting was on a Buddha statue in a South Korean temple in 1997. Chinese state-run media also reported sightings in 2010. Though being what it was, all articles on the phenomenon were removed rapidly. The Chinese government clarified that the Udumbara found wasn’t a flower, but the egg of the green lacewing, an insect.
There is, according to Buddhists, a major difference between the Udumbara flower and the lacewing egg. The eggs, after the insect hatches, withers and dies quickly and makes no odor. The Udumbara is, however, incredibly fragrant.
Whether or not you believe that a new Buddha has been born to heal the world with compassion, this story serves to me as a reminder to be compassionate to all life and to brighten the world with kindness and love.