The Significance of the Lotus
August 9th, 2008 · 1 Comment
“Growing in the mud, yet not smelling of the Mire”
The lotus flower holds a special place for all of us, East and West as it symbolizes our struggle in this world. A pure and beautiful flower is born in the still waters of the pond underneath the mud, and, when the time comes, it emerges. It grows out of the water and straight toward the sky, opening its petals in the rays of warm sunlight, revealing its natural beauty. In sharing its fragrance with the world, it leaves the mud far behind. The large rounded leaves are water-resistant, as the flower reaches toward the sky, they form a dark green barrier separating the newly formed flower from the mud and water below. The flower exists as a part of its environment, and separate from it at the same time.
The Vietnamese have a saying, “Growing in the mud, yet not smelling of the mire”, refers to this idea almost as though the plants and flowers have separate natures. We as humans are aware of our duel natures. The struggle of rising from our backgrounds and experiences towards doing good and not doing good is very real.
In Asian countries, people keep ponds of lotus at their homes. The farmers eat the seeds and roots of the plant, and use its leaves to wrap food. The dried stalks are later used to start fires.
Taking lessons from the lotus, we learn that it was the very mud that the lotus was nurtured in that provided the energy to propel it to this high state. Applied to human life, we can say that our society-our world, though it is not always pure and clear, has in it all the nutrients required to produce an upstanding, fragrant flower of a person, worthy of admiration.
We are wise to take our clues from nature. The Buddha often sited nature, and the elements found there as examples for his teachings. In the case of the noble lotus flower the example is pure. We can come from many backgrounds and many circumstances. The idea of rising above our past and reaching for a higher purpose is a most noble effort. Using the principles found in Buddhism such as Right Understanding, Right Thought, Right Intention and Right Speech we are creating an atmosphere and environment suitable for real personal growth. Remembering where we come from, where we are, and where we are going is practicing mindfulness in a very positive way. Our past and where we come from is the parent of our present. Our today will be the future tomorrow and what we will become.
I Wish You Peace,
Bhante n. Kassapa Bhikkhu
Buu Mon Temple
Port Arthur, Texas, 77640