On the surface, the sacred lotus flower looks breathtaking. It’s an aquatic blossom that seems to float on the water. It folds up and disappears under the surface at night then reappears again with the sun in the morning. Its stem reaches down from the beautiful, broad petals to extend into the mud where the roots lie.
Most people know the name lotus or “sacred lotus”, however this exotic flower is sometimes also called an Indian lotus or “bean of India”. Almost every part of the plant is edible, from the seeds and roots to the petals and leaves. Even the stamen can be dried and steeped to create an herbal tea with a delightful fragrance. It’s hard to imagine that such a gorgeous plant could require mud to survive, and yet it does.
The Symbolism of the Lotus Flower
The lotus flower is very meaningful, with each part representing some aspect of life and existence. Buddhists view it as symbol of purity and spiritual awakening. It’s easy to understand why when seeing the pure blossom against the murky, muddy water. Different meanings may be attributed to different colored blossoms, but the general idea remains the same.
The mud is also symbolic to many Buddhists. It can serve as a representation of the challenges and suffering we all must face. Through learning and experience, we can overcome the struggles of the mud to break the surface of the water and unfold to reveal our true beauty.
Life in the Mud
The lotus flower requires a muddy environment to survive. This type of environment is common under a body of water, so naturally it’s a good choice for an aquatic plant. The mud provides a place for the roots to fan out and anchor the blossom while helping nourish it.
This method works well because the lotus can survive for many, many years. In fact the oldest seeds to ever be germinated were found in a lakebed in China and were believed to be 1,300 years old. A single lotus blossom can survive for more than 1,000 years. The plant also has a unique ability that allows it to revive after a period of stasis. The lotus flower seems to return from the mud again and again, capable of outlasting almost all living things currently thriving in our world.