THE LOTUS AND BUDDHISM

 

The lotus is the most famous flower strongly associated with the Buddhism.  It is one of Buddhism’s most recognizable symbols of enlightenment  and is important in many Buddhist traditions.  According to legend, everywhere the baby Buddha stepped, a lotus flower bloomed.  The famed “Lotus Sutra” is one of the most important texts of Mahayana Buddhism and is the foundation of the Pure Land schools.

Because the lotus grows in muddy water, it symbolizes the purity of enlightened mind arising amidst the suffering world (samsara).  It also represents non-attachment, as it is rooted in mud (attachment and desire) but its flowers blossom on long stalks unsullied by the mud below.

Different-colored lotuses have different meanings.  The red lotus is the symbol of love and compassion.  The blue lotus represents wisdom and intelligence and is always pictured partially opened.  A gold lotus represents the achievement of complete enlightenment.  The most popular color of pink lotus symbolizes the purity and wonder of our awakened Buddha nature. The white lotus is  a symbol of mental purity and spiritual perfection. Buddha and Kuan Yin (who is the Buddhist Goddess of Great Compassion) are always described as sitting or standing on the lotus throne, or holding the stem of a lotus flower.

In some Buddhist schools, the flower’s stage of growth represents different stages on the path to enlightenment.  A closed bud symbolizes the time before enlightenment, while a fully bloomed lotus represents full enlightenment. Sometimes a flower is partly open, with its center hidden, indicating that enlightenment is beyond ordinary sight.

(Source: “LION’S ROAR – Buddhist Wisdom for Our Time”  May 2017 Issue)

 

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(Spring Liao, 05/26/2017)