Once in ancient times, when the World-Honored One was at Mount Grdhrakuta, he held up a flower, twirled it, and showed it to the assemblage. At this, they all remained silent. Only the venerable Kashyapa broke into a smile.

~ Gateless Barrier, Case 6

Often in our practice we think of realization as a kind of ‘Knight in Shining Armor’, an experience that will sweep us off our feet. Instead, we may find that the Knight is a bit less flashy and rather more familiar than we had first thought. But we also find that meeting the original Tramp is far more satisfying and freeing than any fantasy we may have constructed.

In the movie City Lights, Charlie Chaplin, playing his trademark character as the Tramp, meets and falls in love with a blind flower girl, who mistakes him for a millionaire. He saves the life of a true millionaire, who gives him $1,000 for a surgery to restore the girl’s eyesight. After Chaplin gives the girl money, the rich man disavows his gift and Chaplin is trundled off to jail for several years.

The girl, her sight restored, opens a flower shop with her mother, and with every tall, handsome, rich man who comes through the door she wonders if he is her suitor and benefactor. ‘What is the matter child?’, her mother asks, and she replies, ‘Oh nothing, I only thought it was him.’

In perhaps my favorite scene in all of movies, Chaplin is released from jail, and wandering about, sees the girl in the window of her flower shop. She takes pity on the tramp, and goes outside to give him a white rose and a coin. Touching his familiar hand, she asks ‘You?’ He nods, asking tenderly, ‘You can see now?’ ‘Yes I can see,’ and the scene dissolves into puddled eyes.

We are that Shining Knight, bright and clear just as we are. And yes, we can see.

Click here to see the final scene of City Lights: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LHBHdYgg9fI