The Meaning behind one of the most popular flowers in the world: The Lotus Flower
“Just like the Lotus, we too have the ability to rise from the darkness and radiate into the world.”
Since the beginning of time, plants have ruled the world. They can grow in the most tropical locations as well as in the harshest of mountains. Plants and flowers are Mother Nature’s way of showing us that we are but small specks in this universe, and we are not even the most beautiful thing to ever have been created. Plants and flowers do not rebel against the laws of nature; they encourage them. They provide, hope, reassurance, beauty, color, and overall they provide life to this planet that we as human beings continuously destroy. The Lotus Flower, with all of its power, beauty, and other-worldly significance is one of these magnificent beings that should be admired and respected. Let’s take a look at what this particular flower represents in various religions and cultures around the globe.
A beautiful White Lotus Flower captured by Bahman Farzad
The meaning of the Lotus Flower in the Buddhism religion:
Buddhism: Buddhism is a religion that originates from Eastern and Central parts of Asia. This religion follows the teachings of Gautama Buddha, understanding that suffering is part of human life and that a person can be relieved of their suffering by purifying their mind and morals. Taking the path to enlightenment. Reincarnation is highly regarded in this religion.
Throughout the world, approximately 488 million people practice Buddhism. Today, the numbers are continuously climbing! In fact, almost 19% of China’s population follow a particular Buddhist practice known as Mahayana. Those who practice Mahayana Buddhism strongly believe that every soul begins by emerging from a Lotus Flower.
Buddhists symbolize many aspects of their beliefs with items or living beings found in the physical world. The Lotus Flower is only one of the many living beings that hold a vast significance. As a whole, the Lotus Flower signifies rebirth or reincarnation. Buddhists believe that when a living being’s soul leaves its current physical form, it is then reborn into another.
The Lotus Flower action meaning in Buddhism:
Buddhists, regardless of their level of practice, type of practice or where they are located in the world, all respond to the Lotus Flower as a sacred flower or being as they observe it in action. “Rising and blooming above the murk to achieve enlightenment.” These flowers tend only to develop in a calm, muddy water source. They sprout upwards towards the water’s surface and begin blossoming above it. Buddhists recognize this action and believe it holds significance related to fortune and shining through the messy obstacles of life. The rising action is also a symbol of purifying a spirit that has become “muddy” so to speak. Finally, this rising through dirty water action is representative of faithfulness and using that devotion to work and rise.
The Lotus Flower color meaning in Buddhism:
Not only does the Lotus Flower hold significance in Buddhism for its actions, but, it also holds significance in its varying colorations. Some of the color varieties and their meanings include:
Buddhists believe that the White Lotus Flowers are a symbol of purity (as the color white often does). More specifically, it represents the purity of the mind, body, and spirit.
Red Lotus Flowers are not as familiar with the white variety. However, these crimson beauties express love and compassion for yourself and others.
Common sense, wisdom, and logic are described by the Blue Lotus Flowers in Buddhist practices. Furthermore, Pink Lotus Flowers symbolize Buddha himself and his history, and purple Lotus Flowers demonstrate overall spirituality and Buddha’s mystic being.
Enlightenment and the many achievements that correspond to it, especially when speaking about the Buddha, are all represented by the gold or yellow Lotus Flower.
The Lotus Flower developmental meaning in Buddhism:
For a follower of Buddhism, the stage of development of the Lotus Flower holds significance as well. They believe that during the beginning stages of the Lotus Flower, or if it is closed due to the sun setting, that this juncture represents the early stages of enlightenment. These followers have yet to discover Buddha and therefore, they are a Lotus Flower in its beginning stage and closed. The bud represents their potential with respect to their spiritual path.
As the Lotus Flower opens and is welcoming to the light, it takes on a whole new meaning. This stage of the Lotus Flower describes a follower of Buddhism, who is fully bloomed and open to not only overall enlightenment but also to self-awareness. It can also be a symbol for resurrection and pure, enlightened thinking.
Other Lotus Flower meanings in Buddhism:
If we stop for a moment and remember the full story of the Lotus Flower, we would remember that it rises from the mud (or muddy water) and blooms into a stunning power flower. The mud from which it rises holds significance in the Buddhism religion as well. The mud represents the hardships, obstacles and overall suffering that human beings must experience as a critical part of being human. Buddhists believe that these barriers and occasions of suffering are ways of providing strength. Strength is required in order for human beings to resist any temptations of evil. Without it, evil wins. The mud from which the Lotus Flower emerges encourages our true selves to choose the correct path in life rather than whichever way is easiest.
The petals on the Lotus Flower can hold meaning as well. Lotus Flowers with eight petals are said to represent cosmic harmonies. However, if it is a White Lotus Flower that has eight petals, then it is often used to represent the womb of the world at the heart of a Garbhadhatu Mandala. The Lotus Flower with a thousand petals (often found in artwork or as the Crown Chakra in the yogic teaching of the Chakra system) demonstrates illumination of the spirit. Every time an individual petal opens it signifies the discovering or unfolding of a soul’s path to enlightenment.
Chakra System: The Chakra System follows the seven major centers of energy in our bodies. Our body’s energy is supposed to flow fluidly through each of the Chakras.
- Root Chakra: This Chakra is located at the base of your spine near your tailbone. It symbolizes your foundation and provides the feeling of being grounded.
- Sacral Chakra: This Chakra is located in your lower abdomen near your naval. It represents your connection to others and your ability to accept new people and new experiences into your life.
- Solar Plexus Chakra: This Chakra is located in your upper abdomen, in your stomach. It symbolizes your ability to feel confident and in control.
- Heart Chakra: This Chakra is located in the center of your chest, above your heart. It represents your ability to love yourself and others.
- Throat Chakra: This Chakra is located in your throat. It is responsible for your ability to communicate to your inner self as well as others.
- Third Eye Chakra: This Chakra is located on your forehead, in between your eyes. It symbolizes your ability to focus as well as your willingness to see the big picture.
- Crown Chakra: This Chakra is located at the very top of your head. It is the highest Chakra and is the symbol of your ability to be fully connected to your spirituality. This is the Chakra that is depicted as the Lotus Flower.
The meaning of the Lotus Flower in Asian Culture
As we continue on this global journey, we come to Japan where the Lotus Flower is also admired and knighted with powerful meanings. These powerful implications are incredibly similar to that of Buddhists as they also believe the Lotus Flower is representative of rebirth(and because much of the population practices Buddhism). However, they also see this impressive flower as a symbol of purity, chastity as well as a symbol of distance from the one you love.
Chinese cultures respect various types of flowers for a number of reasons. They admire Chrysanthemums (nobility, elegance, and good fortune), Peonies (Chinese National Flower, female beauty, and honor), Orchids (integrity, friendship, and scholarly pursuit). However, they most likely hold the Lotus Flower in the highest regard because it represents the holy seat of the Buddha, perfection, as well as a pure mind and a pure heart.
Finally, some countries in Asia symbolize the stalk of the Lotus Flower. They believe that the tough fibers that make up the stem represented the strong family bonds that are thought to be unbreakable. Imagine that you are are the Lotus Flower blossom that is opening above the water’s surface. Your most supportive family members and friends are your stems. They remain under the water in order to support your beauty and allow you to shine above it.
The meaning of the Lotus Flower in the Hinduism religion
Hinduism: Hinduism is one of the major religions in the world. It is mainly practiced in Southern parts of Asia. Hinduism encourages a person’s freedom from material things in the world by purification of their mind, body, and spirit from all desires. They also believe in reincarnation.
The Lotus Flower is highly regarded in Hindu cultures. They use it as a symbol of peace, happiness, and goodwill. They often refer to this pure and beautiful flower as “The King of Flowers” because it is believed to remove unwanted energies or other unpleasant things. As the story goes, a Lotus Flower was seen emerging from Lord Vishnu’s naval. The God, Brahma found the Lotus Flower to be a comfortable seat while he created humankind. Other Hindu Gods have found the Lotus Flower to be a comfortable place at one time or another and for particular occasions. Those who practice Hinduism will often offer a Lotus Flower (or many Lotus Flowers) to the Gods during ceremonies.
Lord Vishnu: This is one of the most highly regarded Gods in the Hinduism religion. He is often said to be the Supreme God. Lord Vishnu is said to be “the Preserver” or “the Protector.” He is almost always shown holding a Lotus Flower or is standing on a Lotus Flower.
The Lotus Flower is highly regarded in almost every culture and religion simply because it is something so beautiful and delicate that comes from something so unpleasant (muddy water). For many people, this is all the symbolism they need in regards to this flower. You see, the Lotus Flower rises above the muddy water of a calm river or pond and blossoms into something pure and untouched by the mud. It simply opens and shows its beauty in spite of its surroundings.
Egyptian cultural meaning of the Lotus Flower
Much of Egyptian artwork depicts Lotus Flowers, which shows how important they were to this culture. The earliest depictions show White Lotus Flowers and Blue Lotus Flowers because they were the two original native species of Egypt. Blue Lotus Flowers are the most common in hieroglyphics. Later; their artwork began showing the Pink Lotus Flower. This was due to the Pink Lotus Flower finally being introduced to Egypt from Persia.
In Egypt, the rising of the Lotus Flower is a representation of creation and the rising sun. It was once believed that the sun-god was born (or rose) from the opening of a Lotus Flower. In fact, The Book of the Dead is full of specific spells that are said to “transform oneself into a Lotus Flower.”. It is thought that if a person were to perform one of these spells that they would be converted into a Lotus Flower and therefore, complete their resurrection.
Finally, artwork depicting the Lotus Flower was often a way to represent Upper Egypt. If the artwork presented the Lotus Flower with papyrus (symbol of Lower Egypt) wrapped in the Lotus stems then this was to symbolize Upper and Lower Egypt and their complete unification.
The meaning of the Lotus Flower in Roman and Greek Religious works
Much of the religious work found in these cultures depict Lotus Flowers as they were thought to surround Gabriel (an archangel) representing his wisdom as well as his grace. They will also often associate many of the same symbolisms for a Lily with the Lotus Flower.
The Romans and Greeks believe that the Lotus Flower rising from water can represent a female’s sexual power as well as her likelihood of fertility or giving birth.
The meaning of the Lotus Flower in Native American cultures
Native Americans are known for their resourcefulness and their constant hunting and gathering techniques that helped them to survive by living off of the land. Some tribes settled in areas of the country (what is now the United States of America) where calm water sources were prominent. They would settle near these calm water sources as they were often a significant source of freshwater. Where there is freshwater, there are animals to drink it, plants to be nourished from it and of course drinking water for them as well. Calm waters are also the perfect location for Lotus Flowers to grow and therefore, they were discovered by Native American Tribes. As they happened upon these beautiful floating flowers, they began doing what they do best, forage. The women (who were the primary foragers in a tribe) would collect these Lotus Flowers and start using them as food, especially their “sacred beans”. Therefore, the Native Americans believe the Lotus Flower to symbolize the power of the sun, and it is the incredible ability to transform plants and other living beings into food.