Lotus Flower in Buddhism

Update: 30/04/2022

Lotus Flower in Buddhism


"Nothing in the pond is more beautiful than the lotus
Green leaves, white flowers with yellow pistils
Yellow pistils, white flowers, green leaves
Near the mud without the foul smell of mud."

The   lotus flower in   Buddhism   is   a   symbol   of   purity   and   innocent biochemistry. The spiritual part of man is immaculate, like a lotus flower growing in mud without the foul smell of mud. Lotus flowers give off their fragrance for both people and their surroundings.

When summer comes, the lotus clumps in the pond sprout bud again. The lotus stem is cylindrical with small spines, the leaf blade is large with radial veins, and   the flower   has   many   layers   of   petals.   According   to traditional medicine, parts of the lotus flower from leaves, stalks, buds, petals to pistil, seedpod, seeds, tubers, hearts...   can   be   used   to   make   many precious medicines with beneficial effects, used to stop bleeding, tranquilize… treat diseases such as dysentery, insomnia.

Therefore, Buddhism uses this meaning of the lotus flower to symbolize the religious practitioners. The lotus flower is to represent a metaphor for each of us who all have Buddha nature. In   Buddhism,  the   lotus   flower   represents   8   characteristics   of  Buddhist
practitioners, including: Purging – Non-contamination - Patience - Freshness - tolerance - joy, equanimity - Conduct behavior -  flowers and fruits of lotus appear at the same time.

Purging means to filter, decant and to make transparent. Lotus flowers have a characteristic that represents the purity in Buddhism, which is where the lotus   flowers   grow that   place’s water will   become   transparent.  This   also speaks   to   the   symbolic   meaning   that   wherever   there   are Buddhas   and bodhisattvas born, that place will bring sentient beings peace and purity in spirit. Accordingly, Buddhism believes that, if we know how to apply purge in our daily lives, our mind will be pure. And when the mind becomes pure, it will also help people to be peaceful and happy. Mud is symbolic of afflictions, greed, hatred, delusion, pride, and evil views. The lotus is a symbol of purity and clarity.

Non-contaminated means not being affected by the external environment but deteriorating, in accordance with the phrase "Near the mud without the foul smell   of   the   mud".   This   means   that wherever there   are   Buddhas and bodhisattvas born, where sentient beings are happy and benefited. Where there is a Dharma, there is a reduction in suffering because sentient beings know how to change and transform the evil mind. Lotus flowers have very magical   characteristics.   Although   the   flower   is   beautiful, fragrant and
charming, no insect can invade because the pistil has a pure fluid that makes the insects dare not approach. This characteristic refers to the clear Buddha mind in each person. If we keep constantly calm in all the defilements of greed, hatred, and delusion, the water of the mind will become more and more pure. Just like the virtues of a true cultivator, he always cultivates his mind to accumulate virtue, benefiting sentient beings without being tired and bored because he doesn't see himself, people, or sentient beings. Thanks to that, we
can overcome life's traps and transform suffering into immeasurable wisdom and compassion.

Patience is one of the most important Buddhist virtues expressed in the lotus flower   with   the   process   of   growing   from   the   mud, encountering many difficulties. Lotus flowers are herbaceous plants, germinating from a lotus root lying in the mud, then growing on the surface of the water to begin to produce leaves and to bloom. The waiting in the process of germination and development is patience. This virtue is also very necessary in life. Possessing patience will help working people easily achieve success, reach the top in life.

Freshness represents the spirit of overcoming difficulties of the Buddhas, just as the lotus flower does not bloom in the warm spring but grows in the hot and harsh summer. In this situation, the lotus flower blooms with a cool fragrance   like   bringing   a compassionate   orange   juice   to   water   and cooling everyone. In Buddhism, this means that bodhisattvas were born in an age of sentient beings full of affliction, discomfort, and full of lust, but they were still patient to overcome, and at the same time used the right dharma to sooth the souls of those around them.

Buddha's tolerance means to be carefree for the big picture, not for the immediate self-interest, but forsaking compassion. For people and for the big picture, without being   entangled   in   appearance, not   falling   into   affairs, not   straying into morality, and reciprocal, so the wisdom is clear and the decision is fair. Lotus flowers from blooming to the time of decaying are always the same, not disturbed by butterfly bees as the harmless virtues that each person needs Loosen nothing means a characteristic on the lotus body associated with two of the four sublime virtues: "sympathetic joy, equanimity".  Although the lotus flower is straight, it is empty inside as giving up the sorrows of calculations, only keeping its honest self and still stepping forward peacefully.

Conduct behavior indicates integrity, there is no flower with an upright body like a lotus. In Buddhism, this represents the lesson: "The practitioner needs to correct his body and mind for righteousness, the integrity of mind is considered as a lecture hall. No matter what situation we live in, wherever our mind is righteous, even if it's a noisy marketplace, we can turn that place into a pure lecture hall.
Slender waist is a unique feature in the lotus flower, in which the flowers and fruits appear at the same time, also cause and effect occur at the same time.

This speaks to a philosophy of life that cause and effect at the same time is inseparable like sowing the cause, reaping that effect in Buddhism.

It can be seen that the lotus flower is a flower with the symbol of Buddhism,
with a good meaning of ethics and wisdom of Buddhists, this is also the image that people can look at to feel the serenity and peace among the hustle and bustle of life.

Buddhism is the Middle Way, both coming out of the world and entering the world, getting out of the mud and being born from the mud, coming out of the world for monks and nuns, entering the world for Buddhists, is a harmonious, balanced, unbiased and non-extreme way of life. It means that there is no idealism and materialism at all. The purpose of Buddhism is enlightenment and liberation, equality, happiness and freedom, making everyone reach the pinnacle of human dignity.

After enlightenment, the Buddha used the lotus flower to teach his disciples
and the Buddha's disciples also followed his example of virtue:

“As besides the highroad
Where rubbish in a pit is flung
There flourishes the lotus bloom
Fragrant and the mind’s delight
So among rubbish-beings
Common humans blind-become, The Perfect Buddha’ s pupil
Outshines with wisdom bright.”

Through this verse, the Buddha taught his disciples to be like lotus flowers. As when entering the city, we see a few stinky garbage trucks, people brought to fill the ponds. That's where the lotus grows, when   it   blooms   there is a pure fragrance. It is the Buddha using the image of a lotus as an example.

He continued: "Also among the sentient beings, defiled with mundane blindness" that is, among everyone around us, they are defiled with mundane blindness, disciples of the enlightened one must try to "shine with wisdom". It means in the defilement places we must always nurture our wisdom to be enlightened in order to be worthy of being an enlightened one’ disciple.

The Buddha used the lotus flower to remind his disciples to live in accordance with the spirit of the lotus, from mundane contamination to use bright wisdom to attain enlightenment. We know that the lotus flower grows out of the mud, without the mud to nourish it, the lotus plant   cannot live.  Likewise, we, cultivators, cannot leave this life to seek enlightenment and liberation. Right in this life with all kinds of good and bad things, winning and losing, right and wrong things, sadness and joy, we must try to transform suffering and pain into joy and happiness. That is the positive spirit of those who know how to let go of their evil mind harming people and animals.

Lotus is a very different flower, when it is still incubating the flower sprouts hidden in the mud, when it is about to bloom, it comes out of the mud, rises to the surface of the water, and then blooms. The characteristic of the lotus flower is that when it is still in the mud it is foul, but when it is in bloom, the fragrance is sweet. That's why Buddhism uses the lotus flower as an image to represent a true practitioner who has transcended the world’s five desires and six senses and achieved the path of enlightenment and complete liberation.

The above are the characteristics of the lotus and 8 lessons and meanings of this flower in Buddhism. Through these characteristics, Buddhism wants to show people that, in order to make life peaceful, fresh and fragrant like a lotus flower, we should remember these eight qualities.   If we can practice these 8 virtues, even if we are at the bottom of society, we can live peacefully throughout our lives. 

Hoa Đạo
Translated into English by Huynh Vo Cao Trí

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