The symbolism and meaning of the lotus flower is different between cultures, though in fact they share many similarities.
Nothing symbolizes purity and perfection more than the lotus. It also has spiritual and religious connotations… it’s petals are said to symbolize the doctrine of Buddha’s teachings. There is great love and reverence for the lotus flower in the east due to the importance of this symbol in many of the Buddhist traditions. And we often see that Buddha himself is depicted sitting on a sacred lotus with straight back and folded limbs in front… called the lotus posture.
This is a posture assumed by Buddhist monks and holy masters when they meditate and teach the sutras. Many Dharma students also sit lotus position when attending teachings or meditating. Even if it is difficult for you and you feel pain or cramping it’s good to practice as this position is very conducive to quieting the body thereby aiding in meditation and keeping your back straight helps with chi flow in the body.
Om Mani Padme Hum is also known as the lotus mantra… the mantra of the Compassionate Buddha and reciting it many times is said to bring a shower of blessings. Since the Chinese manifestation of the Compassionate Buddha is the Goddess of Mercy Kuan Yin, this is therefore the Kuan Yin mantra. In India the Compassionate Buddha is known as Avilokiteshvara while in Tibet as Chenresig.
In feng shui the lotus is believed to symbolize the purity of love. For those of you who believe in and desire “old-fashioned” love with marriage and a good family life… I suggest you incorporate the lotus symbol – either the real plant or flower or artificial decoration into your surroundings to nurture a true feeling of peace and contentment.
It is not too surprising that the many different colors have come to be associated with different aspects of Buddhism. The main symbolism of the lotus flower and their meanings are given here.
- Blue lotus: The blue lotus flower is associated with a victory of the spirit over that of wisdom, intelligence and knowledge. If you get to see it a blue Lotus in Buddhist art you will notice that it is always depicted as being partially open and the centre is never observed.
- White lotus flower: this color lotus is known to symbolize Bodhi (being awakened), and represents a state of mental purity, and that of spiritual perfection; it is also associated with the pacification of one’s nature. This lotus is considered to be the womb of the world.
- Purple lotus: known to be Mystic and is associated with esoteric sects. It can be shown depicted as either an open flower or as a bud. The eight petals of the purple Lotus are representative of the noble eightfold path; one of the principal teachings of the Buddha. Following this path is thought to lead to self awakening, and is considered one of the noble truths.
- Pink lotus flower: this is the supreme lotus and is considered to be the true lotus of Buddha.
- Red lotus: this is related to the heart, and the Lotus flower meaning is associated with that of love and compassion.
Perhaps one of the strongest associations of the lotus flower with religion is that that is observed in Hinduism. In this religion the lotus flower meaning is associated with beauty, fertility, prosperity, spirituality, and eternity. The most common lotus form seen in Hinduism is the white lotus flower.
Many of the gods and goddesses of Hinduism are linked to the flower, for example the goddess of prosperity, Laxmi, is usually depicted as being seated atop a fully opened lotus flower. Likewise Brahma, the god of creation is depicted as emerging from a lotus that crawls from the Naval of the sustainer Lord Vishnu.
The flower always looks so clean and pure against the background of the dirty pond. Because of this the lotus flower has come to be associated with purity and beauty in the religions of Buddhism and Hinduism respectively; the ancient Egyptians scholars observed that in the night-time the lotus closed its flowers and sank into the water, and came up with a different association with the flower related to rebirth and the Sun; in actual fact the Lotus slowly emerges from a pond over a three day period and then blooms in the morning until mid-afternoon.
Therefore the lotus came to symbolize the Sun and the creation. In many hieroglyphics works the lotus is depicted as emerging from Nun (the primordial water) bearing the Sun God.
As something that is associated with rebirth, it is no surprise that the lotus flower is also associated with death, and the famous Egyptian book of the dead is known to include spells that are able to transform a person into a lotus, thus allowing for resurrection.
Another interesting fact about the lotus flower meaning to the Egyptians was the way that it was used as a symbol for the unification of the two Egyptian kingdoms, that is to say the bonding of upper and lower Egypt. For a long time the lotus had been used in the hieroglyphics and art of upper Egypt, whereas in lower Egypt the Papyrus plant was notably in abundance. Therefore pictures of lotus and Papyrus that had grown up together and become inter-wound with each other came to be a symbol of the bringing together of the two kingdoms.
It is very interesting how the open flower and the unopened Lotus bud forms are associated with human traits. The unopened bud is representative of a folded soul that has the ability to unfold and open itself up to the Divine Truth.
May the obstacles to your flight be few and the Blessings along your journey be many. Namaste,
~ Rev. Tiffany White Sage Woman