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The lotus is called padma in both Sanskrit and Tibetan. Rooted in muddy slime, the lotus rises through water to emerge into the sun, a progress that mirrors the journey of man’s soul. Mired in suffering and sin, we pass through varied experiences before emerging into the sun of enlightenment. Many plants grow above water; it is only the lotus whose sturdy stem allows it to clear the water surface and stand steadfast.
It is said that our hearts are like the closed petals of a lotus. Imbibing Buddhist virtues will enable the lotus to blossom into its full beauty. This is why the Buddha is often depicted seated on a lotus.
The white lotus represents purity of mind and an evolved spirit. The pink lotus is matchless in its perfection and therefore emblematic of the Buddha himself. A blue lotus is symbolic of the spirit’s conquest of the senses, while a red bloom is associated with Avalokiteshwara, the Compassionate One.