January 29, 2001

Flowers that bloom only once every 3,000 years are budding on the head of a sacred Buddhist statue. Buddhist priests in South Korea say the legendary flowers blossoming on the forehead of Kuan Yin1 the Compassionate only appear when the 'Sage King of the Future' (also known as Maitreya, the future Buddha) comes into the world, which one Buddhist leader called, "a delight that gives joy beyond description." "The Miracle of the Flowers," as it's now being called, happened in the Chonggyesa Temple, located in a suburb of Seoul, South Korea. Tens of thousands of pilgrims are flocking to see the white blossoms on the tip of the eyebrow of the shining, gilded statue of Kuan Yin.

According to the monks, 21 threadlike stems are growing from the statue of Kuan Yin, each with a tiny white flower 'no bigger than the tip of a ballpoint pen.' This is the first time in the 1,000-year history of the monastery that the flowers have blossomed.

Buddhists say sighting the flowers is like witnessing the birth of Buddha. Experts say it's unthinkable that the 500-year-old statue of Kuan Yin, gilded every three years over the (original) woodwork, could produce growing flowers. Botanically, the flower is related to the ficus, says botanist William Grant, There is just no way it could take root in the statue. Dr. Ireland says the flowers are regarded as divine in India, Japan and China and are believed to bloom only when a momentous event is about to happen.

Buddhist monks are currently keeping a prayer vigil at the statue, waiting for the event that will change human's future forever.

1Kuan Yin: This name is also sometimes spelled 'Guanyin' and in Sanskrit, is 'Avalokitesvara.' It is the name of a famous Bodhisattva."