I had known that the lotus flower was an important symbol in Buddhism. A short time ago you guided a meditation during which you explained at least one reason why it was significant, and offered a great insight into an important life concept. Can you share a little about that for us here?
The lotus flower is a symbol across Asia signifying the concept of the gift of struggle. The blooming lotus shifts our minds away from resisting challenges to using challenges for the benefit of oneself and all others. In this shift we can view the purity and beauty of the blossom is only possible because of the gunk at the bottom of the pond.
So many times we focus only on the murk and mire. In this state, we determinedly focus on what we are walking through and forget to look upward, to set our gaze to the growth reaching for the light. Sometimes we deny the fact that struggles and challenges are important and necessary for enlightenment. It is understandable to become lost while we are trudging through painful times. That is why meditation practice, community, and study are absolutely vital to cultivate and maintain peace in the heart.
Thank you for that lesson. It reminds me of the story of Joseph in the Bible about blessings for him and his family coming from his trials, playing out of a long period of time. It also calls to my mind a particular verse: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
It is so difficult sometimes to be patient and allow the “gunk” to do it’s work of feeding the blessings. That is true, not only for ourselves, but it is tempting to jump in and pull someone else out of their own mud puddle prematurely. It can also be difficult to remember that meditation will not automatically and quickly make all the “gunk” disappear. Often, meditation is the environment in which we can begin to soak up the nutrients that are feeding that lotus blossom. And that is not always a pleasant feeling.
I think it’s important to add that being aware of the murk and mire does not necessarily mean taking no action to attend to situations that may be harmful to oneself or others. The lotus blossoms because it takes the yucky stuff and redirects the energy for good, which if we are to get philosophical, points to the fact that the yucky is good also. Without the murk there is no beauty and vice versa. As humans, because we are self-reflective animals, it is extremely difficult to keep our perspective on the idea of the lotus flower. However, if we stabilize our minds through meditation and continue to study the human condition, a sort of effortless effort of the lotus of our minds opens.
Thank you so much for sharing this perspective. Especially the wisdom about the need to discern which dark situations may be endured and which cry out to be addressed for safety and health. I agree that meditation is a valuable method of growing that discernment. And, as you said, community, which is our connection with others, is vital to support that discernment and enable us to grow from the trials. I can see future discussions about other aspects of the lotus flower that teach us about life and spirit.
Your Wondrous Mind
Conversations between two mindfulness teachers, one Buddhist the other Christian.