From the Awakened Heart Project...
The lotus flower is a beautiful flower that can be found all over the world, but the start of this flower's life is not as beautiful is one might imagine. It’s unlike many other flowers. When the lotus first begins to sprout, it is under water, making its home in lakes, ponds, and areas where the water remains fairly still on the surface. But underneath the surface, the lotus is surrounded by mud and muck and by fish, by insects, and simply dirty, rough conditions.
Despite these circumstances, the lotus flower maintains strength, and pushes aside each of these dirty obstacles as it makes its way to clearer surfaces. At this time, the lotus is still just a stem with only a few leaves, and a small flower pod. But in time, the stem continues to grow, and the pod slowly surfaces above the water, into the clean air, finally freeing itself from the harsh life conditions below. It is then that the lotus slowly opens each beautiful petal to the sun, basking in the worldly beauty surrounding it. The lotus flower is ready to take on the world. Despite being born into dark, murky conditions, where hope for such beautiful life seems dubious, the lotus grows, and rises above adversity. Ironically, this same dirty water washes it clean as it surfaces. As the lotus opens each petal to the air, not a stain or spot of mud remains externally. The inner lotus too, has never seen a drop of mud or dirty water. It is pure, and bright, and beautiful.
In Buddhism, the bud of the lotus symbolizes potential. The lotus flower represents an awakening, spiritual growth, and enlightenment. Just as the lotus flower emerges from the water clean, the lotus also represents purity of body, speech, and mind. The lotus could be thought of as an awakened mind, which grows naturally toward the warmth and light of truth, love and compassion. The lotus may appear fragile on the surface, but it is flexible and strong, securely anchored under the surface of the water.
You don’t need to be Buddhist to understand that we are all like the lotus flower. Many of us live in that murky water, and never make it to the surface so we can blossom. Many of us are close; we are just buds, ready and eager to feel the sunshine of life on our skin. No matter which stage of life you are on, I’m sure you can relate to this lotus and see yourself in this story. The conditions that produce beautiful life are not always ideal, but that never stops the lotus from rising through adversity, opening its petals, and blossoming in the sun.
“The lotus is the most beautiful flower, whose petals open one by one. But it will only grow in the mud. In order to grow and gain wisdom, first you must have the mud — the obstacles of life and its suffering. … The mud speaks of the common ground that humans share, no matter what our stations in life. … Whether we have it all or we have nothing, we are all faced with the same obstacles: sadness, loss, illness, dying and death. If we are to strive as human beings to gain more wisdom, more kindness and more compassion, we must have the intention to grow as a lotus and open each petal one by one. ”
― Goldie Hawn