Hidden Treasures of the East
Exploring the true meaning of yoga’s gifts to the West - Lotus, the jewel to enlightenment. By Nik Parmar
Om Mane Padme Hum
One of the world’s most celebrated flowers, the Lotus is a divine symbol of all time. Its characteristics can be compared to the human condition; even when its roots are in the murkiest of waters, the Lotus produces the most beautiful flower.
Native to Asia, the Lotus flower grows in muddy water and rises above the surface to bloom with remarkable beauty. Untouched by impurity, a symbol of enlightenment, spontaneous generation and rebirth.
The Lotus is one of the most ancient symbols of our planet rooted deep in Eastern cultures and legends.
In Egypt, the Lotus represents the sun, death and rebirth; blossoming with sunrise and closing on sunset, symbolising resurrection.
In Buddhism, it symbolises purity, spiritual awakening and enlightenment. Rooted in the mud, it rises towards the direction of light. As our soul awakens like the blooming Lotus bud, we journey from ignorance to divine truth, love and compassion. Buddha’s mantra ‘Om Mane Padme Hum ’describes the Jewel in the Lotus: ‘I am in You and You are in me ’signifying the divine union between man and universe.
In the Bhagavad Gita, the quality of the Lotus to remain untouched by the water and mud of the pond, where it grows, is compared with the quality of a wise and spiritually enlightened person, who performs his duty without material or emotional desires. This quality of detachment enables us to remain unaffected by materialism and worldly pleasures.
“They should work without attachment, dedicating their actions to God, untouched by sin like water on a lotus leaf, like a beautiful flower standing high above the mud and water.”
The Lotus serves as an ‘asana ’seat for several Hindu deities, signifying divinity and purity. This sense of purity, Padmasana (Lotus Pose) arises from the flower’s growing habit of rooting in mud and rising up to bloom. Padmasana is designed to allow the body to be held completely steady for long periods as a foundation for meditation, chanting, and pranayama. It strives to reach the highest level of consciousness, which itself is found in the thousand-fold lotus chakra on the crown of the head (Sahasrara), dispersing the universal energy and life force to the other six chakras located below.
The chakras, the energy centres of our body, are depicted as the Lotus and the varied number of petals representing each chakra. The Lotus with its layers of symbolism and spiritual connotations growing in unclean water untainted by the impurity around, representing beauty, prosperity, knowledge, fertility, and above all, purity and divinity.
Many of us live in that murky water, but like a Lotus, we too have the ability to rise from the mud, bloom out of the darkness open our petals and radiate into the world.
“As a lotus flower is born in water, grows in water and rises out of water to stand above it unsoiled, so I, born in the world, raised in the world having overcome the world, live unsoiled by the world” Gautama Buddha
Written by Sonal Thakrar (kleem.co.uk)