The meaning behind the White Lotus Flower
“Be like a Lotus. Let the beauty of your heart speak. Be grateful to the mud, water, air and the light.”
The symbolism behind the color White:
Throughout history, colors have been used in everything from artwork, fashion, and décor. Colors were even depicted on cave walls and in the earliest documented hieroglyphics. It is color that gives our world its unique variety of beauty. However, there is one color that is found in nature that holds such a grand significance in religions and cultures everywhere. The color White. White has been the symbol of purity, honesty, perfection, innocence, and new beginnings.
White is often times the color that psychologists associate with a clean slate or when their patients are experiencing something new. This is not a color that people use as a “stimulator” necessarily. It is more often used as a blank canvas for people to become inspired and conceive creations with other colors. In fact, white is the best color for neutralization in the color spectrum. It is capable of representing both the positive aspects of life as well as the negative ones. White can be used to represent an awakening of the spirit and creativity because this color is reflective and it is impossible to be hidden by it. Brides have been wearing white for a number of years because it shows the ultimate purification and complete cleanliness. You will see scientists and researchers from all over the world likely wearing white coats because white can provide a sense of peace, security, and hope. This is also why doctors wear white coats.
On the other hand, White can also be alarming. It can cause certain health conditions to spike if the person is especially sensitive to light or brightness (both of which are enhanced by the color White). For example, an individual who suffers from anxiety attacks, migraines, or hypertension may experience a panic attack, a migraine or a blood pressure spike if in a white room for any amount of time. White can also project the feeling of coldness or sterility.
The color White is often seen as the purest of beginnings because it is the way anything looks before something or someone intervenes.
The symbolism behind the White Lotus Flower:
The White Lotus Flower grows naturally in numerous parts of Eastern Africa as well as Southeastern Asia. It was later used as an ornamental aquatic plant in private outdoor ponds and water gardens. Today, it remains one of the most popular private pond flowers and is also one of the most popular tattoo choices amongst men and women to demonstrate their purity or their desire for a new beginning.
Buddhist interpretation of the White Lotus Flower:
Initially, the White Lotus Society allowed men and women to interact freely socially (previously a big “no” “no” in this time). It was also used to encourage your pure devotion towards strict vegetarianism. They went on to take part in protests and rebellions growing in numbers each day.
“As the Lotus is pure in the water, so the soul is also pure.” – Buddha
The White Lotus Flower symbolizes purity. The color white will almost always be a representation of purity. The White Lotus Flower more accurately symbolizes a purification of the mind, body, and spirit. Buddhists believe very strongly that suffering is an essential part of being human. However, they then believe it is just as important to purify your mind, body, and spirit of all of the suffering in order to reach total enlightenment.
“Om Mani Padme Hum” (Jewel in the Lotus) chant during yoga and meditation. This mantra provides mystical power and represents your path of enlightenment. The Buddha is often depicted sitting on the White Lotus Flower in Lotus position, in full bloom. This is to suggest that the heart and spiritual nature of a person are not yet open until his teachings and enlightenment have developed from the inside, outward.
Buddhists also associate the state of Bodhi with the White Lotus Flower. Bodhi is one of the stages on the path to full enlightenment. Bodhi is a state of complete and total purity in one’s mind and spirit. It is the stage one reaches once they are becoming completely awakened to the wonders and ideals of Buddhism, the Buddha, and overall enlightenment. In order for a practicing Buddhist to find significance in the White Lotus, it must have eight petals. A White Lotus Flower with eight petals represents the Noble Eightfold Path of the Good Law.
The interpretation of the White Lotus Flower in Asian Cultures:
As much of the various Asian Cultures are in fact, Buddhist, many of the symbolisms they place on people and things are similar. Those who practice Buddhism may see a White Lotus Flower and instantly recognize it as the “Womb of the World,” those who do not practice Buddhism may understand it enough to know the Lotus as the Holy Seat of Buddha. The White Lotus Flower is, however, used to represent ultimate purification as a result of its journey through the muddy water to the light where it opens its petals and remains unscathed by the mud.
The Chinese also believe the White Lotus Flower plant holds medicinal value. They believe that every part of the plant can be put to good use. Therefore, they hold a slightly different respect for the entire plant.
Hindu interpretation of the White Lotus Flower:
In the Hindu religion, the White Lotus Flower is held in high regard. They even use it during religious rituals such as puja. Puja is translated to mean “flower act” from Hindi to English. They believe the flower represents prosperity, fertility and of course, beauty. They even see the White Lotus Flower as a representation of the beauty behind a female’s eyes.
The Hindu religion believes in multiple Gods. One of which is highly respected and represented by the White Lotus Flower. Saraswati, the Goddess of Wisdom. Hindu Gods are often depicted resting or simply sitting on a Lotus Flower or holding a Lotus Flower in their hands. When deities are depicted sitting on or holding the Lotus Flower, they are symbolizing purity and divinity in the religion.
The interpretation of the White Lotus Flower in Egyptian Culture:
The White Lotus Flower (Nymphaea Lotus) is one of the only species of Lotus Flowers to be native to Egypt. These flowers grow well in warmer water sources that have a slow current or are completely calm. In Egypt, the White Lotus Flower represents creation as well as the more common representation of purity, innocence, beauty, and fertility.
The Lotus Flower is Egypt’s national flower and has been used in their artwork and decorations for centuries. Ancient Egyptians would use the White Lotus Flower in their artwork to provide their people with strength, power, and perseverance. When Ramesses II passed on, his body was moved into a burial tomb. His followers graciously placed White Lotus Flowers in the tomb with him to use in the afterlife. Ancient Egyptian artwork from 1500 B.C. is also the earliest documentation of ornamental horticulture. These pieces would show Lotus Flower ponds completely surrounded by rows of palms and acacias in a symmetrical formation. The White Lotus Flower is used in Egyptian mythology (such as the story of Horus) and as an amulet worn by women during childbirth.
Egyptians have such a high regard for the White Lotus Flower that they used it as the symbol for the number 1,000 in the Ancient Egyptian numerical system. Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics as well as their artwork, also suggest that many of the people who lived during that time period would eat certain parts of the Lotus Flower (petals and other flower parts) strictly for an intoxicating, aphrodisiac, and psychedelic effect.
This custom has been found in other ancient works as well. Recent research has shown that the Lotus Flower used for this purpose was more likely the Blue Lotus. However, they have not entirely ruled out the possibility of the White Lotus Flower having similar effects when combined with alcohol.
The interpretation of the White Lotus Flower in Roman and Greek religious works:
The Ancient Greece, the White Lotus Flower was the symbol for modesty and innocence. However, the most prominent information about the White Lotus Flower in Ancient Roman and Greek documentation are the stories referring to the Lotus Eaters.
The Lotus Eaters are a popular group of people that were depicted in Ancient Greek mythology. The Lotus Eaters were also referred to as the Lotophagi that mainly lived on an island along North Africa. This island was said to have been overrun by Lotus Flower plants and therefore, it became their main source of food. However, when the inhabitants would eat the Lotus Flower, they would experience a calming effect which is said to have resulted in a quality night sleep.
The Blue Lotus Flower is thought to have been a more likely culprit of the narcotic effect than the White Lotus Flower. However, it is entirely possible that the White Lotus Flower provided an intoxicating effect when combined with ancient alcohol.
Native American interpretation of the White Lotus Flower:
Native American tribes were most likely not as familiar with the White Lotus Flower as they were with the bright Yellow Lotus Flower. Also known as the Nelumbo Lutea, this Yellow Lotus Flower is primarily found in North American calm freshwater rivers, ponds, and lakes. The Native Americans valued the Yellow Lotus Flower as a source of food because they believe in using everything and anything that they can find to either make their shelters, eat, or heal the ill or wounded. In fact, it is thought that the Native Americans are responsible for the current placements of the Lotus Flowers throughout the United States of America. It is believed that Native Americans would bring the Lotus Flowers with them as an easy food option during their travels. The seeds they were not eaten may have been left behind, thus planting the flower there. Although, this is mainly just a theory that researchers of Native American History have developed.
White Lotus Flowers are thought to have been brought to North America after the 13 Colonies had started growing. Today, it is not as uncommon to find a calm lake, or private outdoor pond or water garden and be hypnotized by the various Lotus Flowers growing in them. The colors vary just as much as their location does these days. The White Lotus Flower is a beautiful example of purity and perseverance at its finest in many religions and cultures around the globe. Here, in the United States, it is simply just a beautiful addition to our landscapes. Luckily, the once widespread practice of eating them for a narcotic effect seems to have been left in the past.