As one of the most revered spiritual symbols, the lotus flower is held sacred by many cultures and people throughout the world. Of the many things this beautifully fragrant flower represents, rebirth and purity are perhaps the most powerful symbols of all. This is because the lotus rises from muddy waters and blooms as a brilliantly pure, gorgeous flower. The lotus is also thought of as a symbol of human consciousness on the path to spiritual enlightenment.
No Mud, No Lotus…
For centuries, the lotus has been seen as a symbol of human consciousness on the path to enlightenment. Just as this sacred flower goes through so much before it blossoms, so does the human spirit before it can let go of the things that stand in the way of reaching enlightenment. Without going through the sometimes very difficult lessons of being human (the mud), a person would never be able to reach higher states of consciousness (the lotus). It’s for this reason that the lotus flower also represents spiritual development.
Buddhism and the Lotus Flower
The lotus flower is held so sacred in Buddhist tradition that the Buddha himself is often depicted sitting on a lotus. To Buddhists, the lotus is connected with spiritual awakening and purity. According to the Mahayana branch of Buddhism, all souls emerge from the lotus. It is known as one of the eight auspicious signs of Buddhism, and the eight petals of the white lotus represent the Noble Eightfold Path.
Om Mani Padme Hum, one of the most powerful and well-known of all Buddhist mantras, is sometimes referred to as the “jewel in the lotus”. Om is known as the sound of the universe, mani means “jewel” or “bead”, padme means “lotus flower” and hum means “enlightenment”.
It is said the jewel in the lotus is representative of the divinity of human consciousness, as well as the divinity of the entire universe. It represents the divine, limitless potential that each person possesses, as well as their connection to the cosmos.
Hinduism and the Lotus Flower
The lotus is also a holy symbol that can be seen throughout Hinduism, and is also one of the eight auspicious symbols of this ancient religion. So sacred is the lotus considered throughout Hindu culture, that it is often used as an offering to the divine. Just as Buddha is often found sitting on the lotus flower, Lord Brahma (creator of the Universe) and Lord Vishnu (preserver of the Universe) are often depicted sitting within the lotus. Hindu legend has it that Lord Brahma was born from the lotus that was growing from Lord Vishnu. Lakshmi, goddess of wealth, fortune, and prosperity, is also depicted standing on a lotus.
In Hinduism, the unfolding lotus flower petals are suggestive of the awakening of the soul. Much like the symbolism in Buddhist tradition, the lotus flower rising from the mud denotes spiritual expansion and personal growth.
Chakras and the Lotus Flower
The lotus flower is also extremely symbolic in regards to a person’s chakra system. These seven major energy centers located within a person’s body are represented by a lotus flower, each with a specific number of lotus petals for each individual chakra.
The lotus flower was chosen long ago to symbolize the chakras because of the way it rises through the most difficult circumstances to become a thing of pure and unadulterated beauty. The more lotus petals a chakra contains, the higher the vibration or frequency of that particular chakra.
- Chakra One (Root): 4 petals
- Chakra Two (Sacral): 6 petals
- Chakra Three (Solar Plexus): 10 petals
- Chakra Four (Heart): 12 petals
- Chakra Five (Throat): 16 petals
- Chakra Six (Third Eye): 96 petals
- Chakra Seven (Crown): 972 petals (also known as “the thousand-petaled lotus”)
When each chakra becomes activated, each lotus petal of the chakra can be thought of as opening and “blooming” along with a person’s energy.
Ancient Egyptians and the Lotus Flower
The spiritual symbolism of the lotus also had strong meaning amongst the ancient Egyptians. There are countless hieroglyphics that depict the lotus flower, and as with many other cultures, it is a symbol of rebirth. Because the lotus flower closes its petals at night and emerges back into the murky waters from which it came, then rises up again out of the water at dawn to bloom, the spiritual traditions of the Egyptians hold the lotus to represent the sun. This moves even deeper in symbolism to represent creation and the idea of rebirth. According to the ancient Egyptians, it was the lotus that gave birth to the sun.
The Lotus as a Symbol of Sacred Spirituality
The beauty and mysticism of the lotus flower is one that has touched the lives of countless people throughout time. As one of the most important spiritual symbols revered by two of the world’s oldest religions and one of the world’s most ancient cultures, the lotus flower is something that embodies a pure essence of untouched spirituality.
The lotus is the symbol of the purity we find when we begin to raise our consciousness and touch upon our own divinity. Just like the lotus flower working its way through the muddy waters, we too work through our own limitations until we discover the bliss found in the enlightened mind.
The lotus is a symbol of sacred spirituality that shows us we can overcome even the most difficult of circumstances and feel the innate beauty life can offer. The lotus is vibrant cosmic energy, the purity of consciousness, and the promise of spiritual renewal.