Literally: twist (with the fingers) – flower – delicate/minute – laugh/smile
Alternately: Communicating “heart to heart,” without words or writing. Subtle, unspoken communication. Plucking or toying with a flower, and a smile.
Notes: In other contexts, 微笑 can also be pronounced bishou or hohoe(mi) and changes 笑, which can mean “laugh,” to the subtlety of a smile. In this case, though, mishou is the only correct reading.
This is another inheritance from the 五灯会元. The story is not one of stereotypical feminine communication, as I had first imagined, but rather of the Gautama Buddha picking up and holding a (white lotus) flower in front of his disciples. Most of them were nonplussed, but Mahakasyapa understood and smiled in response, proving that he was ready to be the Buddha’s successor.