As Autumn continues to show its skin around us through the shifting of the weather and the changing of the leaves on the trees, I am reminded of the power of nature. The beauty behind seasonal changes and my personal connection to the Earth.
But there is one plant in particular that always seems to grab my attention, no matter if flora and vegetation are growing, or dying around us.
And that my fellow yogis, is the Lotus flower.
You’ve probably done the pose, or at least attempted to– legs intertwined, feet over opposite thighs. But maybe you haven’t been told or researched yourself to find out why it’s so important to the yogic culture.
Why does this one flower have so much weight, and is so heavily recognized as one of its iconic symbols?
Before I explain (I’ll get there in a moment), I have to explain how the Lotus comes to be, where it grows and what it looks like.
The Lotus’ Humble Beginnings
You may or may not have known that the Lotus flower lives out its life in ponds and lakes, beginning its existence underneath of the water, surrounded by water dwelling animals, mud and muck– not a pretty beginning to what turns out to be a metaphorical swan.
But through all the underwater sludge, the Lotus begins to bud from its mud planted roots, at the end of its air space filled stem (organically designed to maintain buoyancy) and emerges its petals and leaves above the water, usually eight to twelves inches above.
But “…While growing in mud it still remains unstained…”
Said Confucius, the famous Chinese philosopher, about the flower’s appearance post-surface.
It manifests in the day to the sun, coming out of the pond/lake with not a spec of dirt, and submerges itself at night.
So maybe even while reading this little bit of information, we’re starting to understand why people, religions or regions think of the lotus as a symbol of life or human growth.
No? Let me explain further! And then I know we’ll get it.
Where did this symbolism come from? Who gave meaning to the Lotus?
Hinduism and Buddhism are the top players in giving meaning to the Lotus flower, though it can be found in Indian and Asian poetry, Egyptian and Greek mythology and Sri Lankan Sanskrit scripture.
If we think back to its humble beginnings by looking at its life cycle, you may be starting to understand how its blossoming can represent us as human beings!
In Buddhism, the growth of the Lotus is symbolic of our own growth. Religiousfacts.com gives us a clear analogy.
The blooming of the Lotus represents the “progress of the soul from the primeval mud of materialism, through the waters of experience, and into the bright sunshine of enlightenment.”
Pretty “wow” worthy. Or at least it was for me. Such a beautiful connection (:
Now, in Hinduism and Bhakti Yoga, the Lotus flower, or what is called “The Padma,” means relatively the same thing, and is associated with all gods and goddesses. The Padma embodies “divine beauty and purity, while the unfolding of its leaves represents the expanding of the soul and spiritual re-awakening.”
Hinduism thinks of the heart of the flower to be the purist part, and suggests that we, like the Lotus, should all strive to open ourselves and be good of heart.
Some really powerful meanings behind the petaled beauty, huh?
What does color mean, though?
I’m glad you asked! I’ll briefly touch on it before I go.
Pink Lotus: the supreme lotus (reserved for deities like Buddha and Krishna who both sit or stand upon one).
White Lotus: mental purity.
Red Lotus: the heart; compassion, love and passion.
Blue Lotus: wisdom, intelligence, mind-over-matter, the victory of the spirit over the senses.
And there ya have it!
Hope this helped everyone. It’s nice to know what symbols in your practice mean, so you can have a deeper understanding of yoga.
I hope your journey through the muddy waters ends with your own spiritual re-awakening!
The light in me sees the light in you. Namaste.