This past week in my Buddhism class the imagery and symbolism of the Lotus flower came into our class discussion. At one point within the last year I had actually done some research on the symbolism of the lotus flower and it matched to that which my Buddhism professor introduced to the class. However, the Buddhist’s perspective and a non-Buddhist perspective do differ in some ways. When I first read the symbolism of the lotus flower, I understand the growth and blooming the flower as a sort of heroic story that we must all take in order to accomplish big goals – whether that be getting through a semester of classes, learning to go into sirsasana (headstand), or simply cleaning up your room/home after a long, exhausting week. Once we have accomplished these things we feel awesome and empowered!
However, when I started to dive deeper into the symbolism I saw that the story of the Lotus is much more than just about the beautiful bloom it accomplishes and the muck it must grow through to get there, but it is about the whole journey and the reflection and understanding that although it is now a beautiful, tall flower, it is still firmly grounded in its past. The power of the lotus flower begins in its beauty, but it is truly held in its strength and courage to grow. It may sounds silly that I am personifying a flower so much, but I truly feel as though the journey of the lotus is one that we can all relate to and many religious traditions (Buddhist, Hindu, and Egyptian) have played upon this powerful imagery for centuries. In the Buddhist tradition in particular, it is believed that once a person has “bloomed” like the lotus flower, they are enlightened. Their perception is not longer fragmented by the water and their “petals” are pure and wholesome.
To try to relate to the lotus flower even further in my yoga practice I wrote this narrative to try to meditate on the journey the lotus takes. By emphasizing the importance of the lotus’ roots, I feel grounded but very tall and beautiful in my practice. I have recorded the narrative in the second-person so that others may go through this narrative meditation and also have this experience. I actually read this narrative to a “client” today during a private yoga practice as her meditation and she seemed to of enjoyed it. I watched her as she grew taller in her seat and her energy perked up as the narrative concluded.
Please enjoy the narrative/audio and let me know how if you enjoy it!
“I am born. I separate from my parent and begin to make my way into the world. I get a fresh breath of air and then… I begin to sink! I have rolled into a body of water and it envelopes me. I strive to reach the light of where I just was, but instead I keep sinking deeper and deeper into a dark tunnel. It becomes quite cold and lonely and yet I feel like this is where I belong. I keep sinking until I am hugged by a soft but grimy substance. I let myself settle here until I am comfortable. For a couple days and nights I simply lie here, unable to propel myself anywhere, unable to understand why I am not living in the bright light, unable to feel anything more than the filth that surrounds me. As I focus on what it is I cannot understand or do, I feel myself sinking deeper. What if I were to focus on my abilities though? What if I were accept this place that I am in right now instead of desiring for a happier life?
I feel a change, a sort of growth, begin to happen within me. Physically, I become stronger, able to propel myself upwards. I begin to grow limbs which allow me to interact with my surroundings. Mentally, I feel aware of myself and what is around me; I realize that this cultivation is affecting more than just my body – it is affecting my heart. As I keep growing upward, I see what I believe to be this notion of “the world.” Yet, I can’t be sure because each time I grow, I see it differently.
As I understand my surroundings more I also find a deep connection to them. I look down and I see my lower portion firmly rooted into the ground. This ground is the soft but filthy substance that once hugged my body. I now realize that if I had not cultivated a want to grow wiser and more compassionate, I would still be there in the dirt. I look around at eye level and see others who are also striving, like me, to reach that beautiful light above. We all desire it but not so that we can show off our achievement but so that others can see that it is possible.
Finally, I can feel the air! I can feel the wind wrap around my body. As the sun rises I feel this joy leap into my heart, into the very center of my being. I look around and I see the world as it clearly is. There are others like me here, as well. We have bloomed! There is not a spot of dirt on my petals and yet, I am still firmly rooted into the grime below me. I realize that people will only see the beauty that I have become through my bloom, but I wish they would realize each step of the journey it took for me to get here! Every night I return to my closed form only to rebloom in the light. I bask in the light, feeling the reality that surrounds me; feeling the pain, and the joy, and the grief, and the laughter of the world. It echoes in me and vibrates my being. My insides remain pure, bright, and beautiful, never experiencing that dirt and grime that my roots so firmly plant in. My petals are fragile, but I stand strong. My story is one of hope for the world.”
Namaste & ♥
In this bright future you can’t forget your past. ~ Bob Marley
Shadi, N. (2013, Jan. 4). The story of the lotus flower. Retrieved from http://withanopenheart.org/2013/01/04/the-story-of-the-lotus/.
Religion Facts.com. (n.d.). The lotus symbol is Buddhism. Retrieved from http://www.religionfacts.com/buddhism/symbols/lotus.htm.
Shiva. (n.d.). The meaning of the lotus flower in Buddhism. Retrieved from http://buddhists.org/buddhist-symbols/the-meaning-of-the-lotus-flower-in-buddhism/.
Rae, S. (n.d.). Dwelling in the lotus heart. Retrieved from http://www.yogajournal.com/practice/746.
A simple meditation focusing on opening up the heart by using lotus imagery.
Wild, T. (2013, Dec. 8). Preserving the lotus: Lessons from a Buddhist master. Retrieved from http://www.elephantjournal.com/2013/12/preserving-the-lotus-lessons-from-a-buddhist-master-tina-wild/.
Some thoughtful reflections of a women who traveled to a Buddhist monastery in France. There is one section that involves the symbolism of the lotus flower.