Back in the days when artificial flowers were plastic, I would not have hesitated to say they were nasty. Nowadays, with such cleverly-made fabric flowers, I find myself less certain. The colours and detail can be rather lovely and the fabric often well-simulates the delicate qualities of real flowers.
At the care home where my mother lives, there are lots and lots of artificial flowers. They are of good quality and most of them sit in pots so that they look like pot plants. It is not obvious that they are artificial. They add colour and a pleasing display to all the rooms in the home. For a home like that to have so many actual pot plants would be a lot of work and responsibility for the staff. Also it would not be possible to have so many in bloom all year round. Mum received a lovely basket of plants for Christmas but they just died because the rooms are so hot and the staff did not water them.
An alternative could be cut flowers, but if the artificial flowers in the home were to be replaced with real cut flowers, this would again represent a lot of work for the staff and also considerable expense. Cut flowers are beautiful, but it does seem a shame to harvest them. The blooms usually last longer on the plant. Bringing cut flowers in to your home is a little like displaying amputated limbs that gradually rot! So are cut real flowers really preferable to well-made artificial ones?
I am ambivalent. I cannot make a hard decision on either side. This is okay – ambivalence is an open state. It is fine for a tantrika to feel ambivalent because the path of Tantra is about working with ambivalence – playing with form as emptiness and emptiness as form. We discover the emptiness qualities of form, and recognise the form qualities of emptiness. The aim of Tantra is to discover the non-duality of emptiness and form.
I have given the artificial sunflowers a wash and put them back in the vase with the honesty. I will take them in for her the next time I visit my Mum. They will provide a cheerful glow in her room and be something familiar.