tree.gif (2510 bytes) A R T  &  C U L T U R E  ии  S Y M B O L S

   R  E  S  O  U   R  C  E  S


Buddha Mind - get one, be one.

  Lotus flowers symbolise purity, spiritual growth and enlightenment - the religious path.
lotus-sm.jpg (3793 bytes)

A portable lotus shrine
portable lotus shrine

double lotus throne

lotus as an offering

Starting life as a seed, it grows in the muddy darkness at the bottom of a pond. The darkness is like our ignorance - we can't clearly see the truth about life. The seed grows toward the warmth and light of the sun just as humans naturally grow toward the warmth of love and compassion, and toward the light of truth. The mature flower floats on the surface, bathing in the full light of the sun, well 'anchored' but moving freely according to the flow of the water - the changing current of any situation.

Flowers are beautiful both in appearance and smell - they are pleasant to have around; we like to have them in our home or the place where we work. The same is true of people. Friends who are honest, kind, virtuous, wise and generous are a pleasure to have around. What is most beautiful about them is not so much their appearance, but their behaviour. A such, flowers are a symbol of the Sangha, the ordained community of monks and nuns. The simple, moral lifestyle of the Sangha can be compared with the beautiful appearance and natural simplicity of flowers.

Flowers are one of three things (Flowers, candles and incense) offered at the shrine. They may wilt and die but the joy and delight that comes from giving - offering gifts generally or as a shrine offering - this is a beauty that will last.

There is (some) indication in Buddhist cosmology that the lotus was the first flower that bloomed in the beginning of this cosmic world. Five holy lotus flowers appear for the first time in this eon prophesying the Enlightenment of five Buddhas in the human realm. The Maha Brahma, Ghatika, created five sets of robes from these five lotus flowers which he would offer to each of the five Buddhas. Four Buddhas have already attained enlightened - Kakusandha, Konagamana, Kassapa and Gotama and one more Buddha remains to be enlightened in the near future by the name of Metteyya Buddha. In Buddhist iconography and art the four enlightened Buddhas are symbolized by lotus flowers in full bloom whereas the future Buddha is symbolised by a bud.

The lotus is extensively used in Buddhist art.
Buddha images are usually positioned on a lotus base. This is most commonly a double lotus with petals facing up and down. Lesser saints are more commonly seen either on a plain base or, at most, a single lotus.
The yogic system of energy centres - cakras - uses the image of a lotus with varying numbers of petals to represent each one, with the crown cakra as the 'thousand petalled lotus' - the blossoming of which is equivalent to enlightenment. So, sometimes the bump on the Buddha's head is represented as a lotus. The flame is an aspect of the same principle.
Lotus flowers are especially sacred as an offering and we can see two elephants making such an offering to a stupa (as a symbol of the Buddha).
Various stupa elements have evolved architecturally from the lotus shape - particularly around the reliquary and more noticeable the apex, the jewel. [see details here and: STUPA - PAGODA generally.]
The pattern of overlapping lotus petals is often seen stylised either as a motif or as a border - see the example below.

Here is gallery of lotus images.