The lotus plant is frequently used in Asian traditions – as
a symbol, as a work of art, as a food, and a herbal supplement. It’s image
holds immense power and beauty in many Asian cultures and systems of healing,
and the symbol of the lotus has transcended time and space to appeal to those
in the Western world seeking calm, peace, serenity, and healing.
In Buddhism, the lotus flower represents purity of the body
and mind, able to float above the waters of worldly attachment. The Buddha was said to be able to walk as a
very young child, and that everywhere his foot touched, lotus flowers sprang
into being. Because the roots of the lotus are in the mud, but the flower
blooms serenely on the surface, the lotus is often used in Buddhist teachings
and iconography to depict the progress of the soul towards enlightenment, as it
works its way up through the muddy waters of the world around us. In many
Buddhist traditions, the color of the lotus also carries meaning – the white
lotus represents spiritual purity; the pink lotus represents the divine; the
red lotus represents purity of the heart, encompassing love, compassion, and
humility; and the blue lotus signifies wisdom.
In other Asian religious and cultural traditions, the lotus
is seen to represent beauty, grace, perfection, elegance, long life, health,
healing, and good fortune. It is delicate and yet sturdy, reaching high above
the murky waters it grows in.
In India, Hindu deities are often depicted sitting or
standing on a lotus flower, a common symbol of the divine. The Baha’i temple in Delhi is built in the
shape of the lotus.
In China, the Chinese Confucian scholar Zhou Dunyi (1017–1073)
wrote “I love the lotus because while growing from mud, it is
Something about the lotus flower
resonates with us, with humanity, throughout time and space. It inspires us to
be our better selves, to seek peace and sunlight amidst the darkness, mud, and
turmoil. It conjures up feelings of peace, tranquility, and serenity. It
reminds us that there is good and beauty in the world, in us.
Just as the image of the lotus has
nourished our souls and minds through the centuries, its physical self
nourishes our bodies. Lotus roots are used in most Asian cuisines, and are
themselves and herb in Chinese medicine. Lotus seeds, too, are prescribed as a
medicine. Lotus root (ou) is used to detoxify the Lungs and aid with chronic
cough. Lotus seeds (Lian Zi) are used to nourish the spirit, aid the digestion,
bind important fluids in the body, and nourish our core energies. In short, the
parts of the lotus plant help to purify, rectify, and heal our bodies, holding
close to us those parts of ourselves that should never be lost.