I love to travel. Recently, I took a short trip to Ubud, Indonesia, to visit the spirit temples. My sister and I rode a scooter up the mountains deep into the rainforest. After an hour or so, we finally stumbled upon the large ponds of the lotus temple. Having never seen lotus flowers growing so high before, we excitedly parked and hurried in. we made our way across a long narrow path that took us through muddy pools, and on either side emerged these beautiful, grand flowers.
I have always been drawn to lotus flowers, not only for their beauty but also for their symbolism. The lotus flower is a flower that can be found all over the world. But the start of this flowers life is not as beautiful as one might imagine.
It’s unlike many other flowers.
A lotus flower begins growing at the bottom of muddy, murky waters, making its home in lakes and ponds in areas where the water remains fairly still on the surface. But underneath the surface, the lotus is surrounded by dirt, fish, insects, and rough conditions
Despite these conditions, the lotus flower maintains strength, and pushes aside each of these dirty obstacles. The lotus is still just a stem at this stage, with only a few leaves, and a small flower pod. Over time, the stem continues to grow, it slowly emerges toward the surface, bursting out of the water into a beautiful blossom. Finally freeing itself from the harsh life conditions below.
It is then that the lotus slowly opens up, basking in the worldly beauty surrounding it.
Despite being born into dark, murky conditions, where hope for such beautiful life seems dubious, the lotus grows and rises above adversity. Ironically, this same dirty water washes it clean as it rises to the surface. It is within this ecosystem that the lotus uses it’s surroundings to rise. As the lotus opens up each petal to the sun, not a spot of mud can be seen. The inner lotus too, has never seen a drop of mud or dirty water. It is pure, bright, and beautiful.
In Buddhism, the bud of the lotus symbolises your potential. The lotus flower represents an awakening, spiritual growth, and enlightenment. Just as the lotus flower emerges from the water clean, the lotus also represents purity of body, speech and mind. You could think of the lotus as an awakened mind, which grows naturally toward the warmth and light of truth, love and compassion. The lotus may appear fragile on the surface, but it is flexible and strong, securely anchored under the surface of the water.
You don’t need to be Buddhist to understand that we are all like the lotus flower. Many of us live in that murky water, a space where we feed doubt and fear and never make it to the surface where we can truly blossom.
Many of us are close however; we are just buds, ready and eager to feel the sunshine of life on our skin. No matter which stage of life you are in, I’m sure you can relate to the lotus and see yourself in this story. The conditions that produce beautiful life are not always ideal, but that never stops the lotus from rising through adversity, opening up it’s petals and embracing the sun.
According to the traditional story, the more muddy and opaque the water, the more beautiful the Lotus flower when it emerges. So the harsher your condition, the more beautiful your spirit will be as a result. Even though it may not seem like it at the time of condition…