Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been fascinated with the Lotus flower. They grow in the muck and rise up toward the sun to bloom on the surface of the water (usually, some grow in very wet earth). As a metaphor it’s something most of us can relate to. We grow through a lot of murk and rise through difficulty. The process happens over and over again so it’s no surprise that many see the lotus as a symbol of birth and/or re-birth.
Buddhism, Hinduism as well as Christianity all hold the Lotus as a symbol of purity.
Religious Meanings of the Lotus
Buddhism: Enlightenment, purity of mind and spirit.
Christianity: Purity, creation of the universe.
Hinduism: Growth, purity, enlightenment, birth
Purity? I rankle a bit at the idea of purity when it comes to people. A thick layer of new fallen snow is my idea of purity. Purity as it relates to people smacks of patriarchy, purity codes and judgement. No one is perfect or pure. We all have flaws and those flaws make us who we are. The cracks let the light in as the old song goes.
So why do I love the Lotus as a symbol if it’s attached to some idea of unattainable purity? The lotus is also a symbol of the soul. That inviolable, unshakably good center of who we are. It is what is perfect when stuck in the mud, and growing toward the light as well as blooming at the surface. It is that which is perfect & pure no matter what.
I include the lotus in many of my rosaries and prayer beads for this reason. It reminds me to be compassionate with myself, to connect to the truth of my soul.
Fr. G and Pema Chödrön discuss this over on this post. Pema calls this our “essential goodness” and Fr. Greg says, “unshakeable goodness” but they are talking about the same thing.
So we are not purely pure, there is the ego to contend with but spiritual practice always leads us back to the truth of our innate goodness and that reminds us to see that lotus blossom in those around us. Spiritual practice is not just beads, yoga mats and church or mantras. It’s waiting in line at the post office, getting our kids out of bed in time for school, it’s walking the dog and calling an old friend.
The lotus in some of my work:
St. Dismas Daily Prayer & Meditation Pocket Beads
All of the pieces below have found their way to their people but you can be assured I’ll keep on creating with the Lotus Blossom.