I love to travel. Recently, I took a short trip to Cambodia, to visit the temples of Angkor Wat. Whilst there, I decided to take a rickshaw ride into the countryside around Siem Reap. After an hour or so, I stumbled upon a large field of lotus flowers. Having never seen lotus flowers growing in nature, I excitedly asked my driver to stop. I made my way down from the dusty road, across a long narrow path that took me through muddy pools, and on either side emerged these beautiful flowers.
I have always been drawn to lotus flowers, not only for their beauty but also for their symbolism.
A lotus flower begins growing at the bottom of a muddy, murky pool, and slowly emerges toward the surface, bursting out of the water into a beautiful blossom. During the night the lotus closes and sinks under the water, and emerges again with the sunlight of a new day.
The lotus seeds contain perfectly formed leaves as miniatures of what they will become when it blooms. Its stem is flexible but does not break. As the lotus flower emerges from the mud, and up toward the surface it is completely unstained.
To me, the lotus in the mud symbolizes the hardships and difficulties of life, or a challenging time we have faced or are facing. As with the stem growing toward the surface, we also grow through our experiences, through our difficulties, learning lessons along the way, removing obstacles and overcoming our adversities. As the petals unfold, we too unfold, and become like a lotus rising from the murky waters and flowering into something beautiful. Its open blossom stands for enlightenment.
The lotus seeds, containing perfectly formed leaves symbolize our potential. Its flexible stem symbolizes our resilience. As the lotus begins to emerge, this symbolizes never giving up, never quitting when things seem difficult. The blossom of the lotus flower symbolizes enlightenment, our awareness, and our beauty. During the night, the flower closes and sinks, like a cleansing, and then emerges with the light, a renewal.
According to a traditional story, the more muddy and opaque the water, the more beautiful the Lotus flower when it emerges.
As I climbed back onto the road to find my rickshaw driver, a young boy came up to me and reached into my hand, and gave me a pink lotus flower.
“Namaste,” I said, as I gently took the lotus from him, “The light in me sees the light in you”.