Yes I might be a cynic, but I not unromantic or closed-minded. My critical faculties are not infallible, but neither are they malicious. I am willing and eager to embrace many new and unfamiliar ideas, but I do need to understand them. I do not grasp the meaning of the flower even though I have made great attempts to do so. The instruction does not appear to me to be transcendental or any other kind of spiritual; it’s pretty, but meaningless (like the flower). Even me understanding something is not a prerequisite for it being true, or even valid and worthwhile as a concept. I don’t understand nuclear physics or Bayesian statistics either, but I don’t deny that they are empirically verifiable scientific facts. I don’t understand them simply because I do not have the intellectual capacity or education to do so.
A spiritual concept enjoining me to “Be like a flower,” however, is constructed from simple words containing a few basic elements; namely “me,” “like,” and “flower.” “Me” I can surely understand to denote Nicholas, for that is the name my mother gave me. I am the one reading the sentence, the pronoun, and I am being urged to do something. “Like,” I presume (though I cannot be sure because maybe the guru has some hitherto unknown use of the word in mind) to mean “similar to,” or “having the characteristics or qualities of.” “Flower” must surely refer to one of the hundreds of thousands of species of Angiospermae or Magnoliophyta currently classified and understood by the generic name “Flower.”
I believe I have the intellect to understand these four words as a linguistic construction, and claim the interest and curiosity required to at least attempt an understanding of the phrase as a spiritual concept. This is not rocket science, after all. But despite my best efforts, I do not. What flower-like qualities, what essential and particular “flower-ness,” should I try to be like? What are those qualities and how should or could I embody them, other than just exist in as inanimate a way as possible? Should I look pretty and smell nice? I do my best, but surely that can’t be what the exhortation means. In what way, if any, can I as a human being relate to or hope to embody the physical or functional qualities of any particular flower? Unless the flower itself tells us what it’s thinking about and what its values are, how am I to know what ethical or spiritual qualities are to be considered? If the guru knows, how does he know? What does it mean?