Home » Excerpts » What The Lotus Means

Meaningful symbols,
though powerful,
are never as powerful as that symbolised.

~ Stonepeace

The lotus (padme) is an important symbol in Tibetan Buddhism and is commonly associated with the process of becoming a buddha. In Tibetan Buddhist iconography, buddhas are often seated on lotus thrones, indicating their transcendent state. A lotus is born in the muck and mud at the bottom of a swamp, but when it emerges on the surface of the water and opens its petals, a beautiful flower appears, unstained by the mud from which it arose. Similarly, the compassion and wisdom of buddhas arise from the muck of the ordinary world, which is characterized by fighting, hatred, distrust, anxiety, and other negative emotions. These emotions tend to cause people to become self-centered and lead to suffering and harmful actions. But just as the world is the locus of destructive emotions, it is also the place in which we can become buddhas, perfected beings who have awakened from the sleep of ignorance and who perceive reality as it is, with absolute clarity and with profound compassion for suffering living beings.

Just as the lotus arises from the bottom of a swamp, so buddhas were former humans, immersed in the negative thoughts and actions in which all ordinary beings engage: the strife, wars, petty jealousies, and hatreds to which all humans, animals, and other creatures are subject. Through their meditative training, however, buddhas have transcended such things, and like lotuses have risen above their murky origins and look down on them unsullied by the mud and mire below.

The symbolism may be extended still further, because buddhas do not simply escape the world and look down on others with pity or detached amusement; rather, like the lotus, which has roots that still connect it with the bottom of the swamp, buddhas continue to act in the world for the benefit of others, continually manifesting in various forms in order to help them, to make them aware if the reality of their situations, and to indicate the path to the awakening of buddhahood, which can free them from all suffering.

Introduction to Tibetan Buddhism
(John Powers)
Get it at Amazon

5 Responses to “What The Lotus Means”

  1. 🙂
    first time visit this website
    wonder, just wondering,
    how come there are 2 such websites ongoing? will they continue to co-exist this way? Why the separation?

    back to this post,
    actually was thinking of the lotus from another point of view, that though it rises from the murky water, and indicates its transcendent state, yet it is unable to “purify” the murky water below.
    It’s like, sometimes we often yearn only to be close to those who are enlightened, without actually doing what to help ourselves be enlightened.
    So the lotus is still the lotus, the mud is still the mud.

    I wonder if anyone understands what I’m trying to say here? :p

  2. You can see TDE’s (founded 1997) objective at http://thedailyenlightenment.com/about and Moonpointer’s (founded 2002) objective at http://moonpointer.com/new/about

    The first is more formal and is also a newsletter service (for about 28,000 readers). A sample issue can be seen at http://thedailyenlightenment.com/enewsletter/65.php To subscribe, you can send a blank email to thedailyenlightenment-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

    The second is more casual, that hold spillover reflections.

    Interesting extension on the significance of the lotus! Maybe you should draw something on this idea too!

    🙂

    Amituofo

  3. hee, seems like I’ve got a comic fan here :p

    I’ve alredi been a subscriber for a while, that’s probably how I got to the moonpointer website.

    It’s interesting browsing through both websites again, and realised some of the links, are, pretty dated… have you been managing these on your own, for so long? ‘cos while there are a few other blogs, most haven’t been updated for a long while… seems like people come, people go, and (hmm, how should I address you?) Bro Shi’an is still going on (and getting better, hee)

    I’m truly amazed and humbled by your efforts, or the team working with you. Especially since I’ve been thinking about where I’m leading my own blog to. The truth it seems, is that it’s easy to strike a chord with others, the difficulty is, which one? The positive or the negative? People are so more easily stirred by negative (sad, moody) writing/feelings, and hence constantly trapped by them too. The way out is simple, but yet so hard to follow and stay on track, especially if one seems to be on his/her own, and hence so few are willing to take it.

    I have not found an answer to my questions, nor do I know, even if I’ve found the right track, how long I can stay on it. But somehow, I do hope, and hence would like you (and your team if any) to know that, your websites and articles have created an impact on me. A Postive one too 😀

    Thanks and many well wishes 🙂

  4. Shen Shi'an November 22, 2010

    Yes, i think you really should compile your comics and come up with a book!

    TDE and Moonpointer is largely a 2-person effort, who sleep too little because there is so much too do! Thank you for appreciating the work!

    I think a trick for writing is to always write towards a solution, and not just leave any melancholy hanging. It is sad but true that sad songs are the most sticky. I think any song/writing that only solidifies or magnifies poignance is not good enough… because there is already so much sadness in the world.

    😉

    Amituofo, shi’an

  5. It’s been a while since I actually draw any stories… publishing a book is too far-off for me, cos all I hope for, right now, is to be able to pick up my pencil and start drawing and sharing again. Thanks for the encouragement, I hope I’ll draw up at least 1-2 new stories before this year ends.

    hmm, 2-person effort? so besides being able to thank Bro Shi’an, the other would be? (Stonepeace… this name… u know, and Shi An…)

    anyway, thanks for the last sentence though, that “there is already so much sadness in the world”, hence why create more sorrow when we can create happiness instead? 🙂

    May you and your partner have a good week ahead!;)

Leave a Reply

Name (required please)

Email (required, will not be published)

Website (optional)