The Lotus Flower as a Symbol of Rebirth and Renewal
You may have seen a lotus flower before. Emerging from a murky pond, the bud unfolds to reveal pristine petals, untouched by the mudded waters on which it rests. This imagery, this juxtaposition of something pure and beautiful arising from the pond seemingly untouched, has inspired many cultures to associate their own meanings with the flower. Like many symbols, the meaning of the lotus is not fixed in one period in one culture, and in this blog post, I want to talk about the symbolism of the lotus in three cultures/religions: in Buddhism, Hinduism, and in Ancient Egypt.
Arising in all three cultures is the lotus’ association with rebirth. In Buddhism, each person is capable of reaching perfect enlightenment. Buddhists believe that “it's necessary to be reborn thousands of times, polishing one's being through many incarnations, until one reaches nirvana – the highest state of consciousness that humans can access.” Therefore, the lotus symbolizes the spiritual awakening and purity of having reached enlightenment.
In Hinduism, the meaning is very similar. Where Buddha is often depicted sitting on a lotus flower, so too are many Hindu gods. However, the lotus flower is further associated in Hinduism with beauty, fertility, prosperity, and eternity.
Lastly, the Ancient Egyptians focused their symbolism on the routine way a lotus would emerge from its pond. As they believed the lotus closed and receded into the water at night and bloomed in the morning, the lotus became associated with the sun, creation, and rebirth.
In times of rebirth, it's important to remember that rebirth isn't easy. Emerging from your own murky pond to reach the open are is hard work. But it's important to be patient with yourself, secure in the knowledge that your petals will feel the sun.
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