Let’s talk Lotus flower (Padma).
Last week I joined the university’s cycling group on a ride along the local canal and into the beautiful countryside of Salaya. It felt far away from town life and it was refreshing to observe the ‘authentic’, Thai countryside culture, houses, and people present throughout the area. After 40 minutes of cycling in the evening heat, we arrived at the secret destination which was a small complex of buildings home to a family, some fluffy dogs, a large LOTUS lake and some boats. Much to our joy we were able to take boats out, and we floated on top of the fish-filled water as the sun lowered down for the evening. This spontaneous few hours turned out to be an unexpected and peaceful moment of reflection.
Upon the lotus lake I was left wondering about the meaning of the Lotus flower. I was drawn to investigate further. In Thailand it seems, you are never too far from a lotus flower or a lotus lake, and their beauty is always striking. I’ve since learnt more about the lotus flower as a spiritual symbol, discovering that it’s roots can be found in a variety of different histories and religions. From ancient Egypt to Hinduism, the flower is closely tied to notions of spiritual growth and evolution away from suffering.
Here in Thailand, the lotus flower is a Buddhist symbol of purity, spiritual growth and detachment from desire. Growing in murky lakes, the delicate and colourful flower springs into life as it emerges from the darkness of the water from which it is birthed. In Buddhism, life is ultimately viewed as suffering, and through the evolution and growth of the Lotus flower, the human ability to grow away from the suffering from which all humans are born, is reflected. The closed lotus flower representing a life before knowing Buddha, and the fully bloomed, mature lotus flower reflecting enlightenment, and the advanced self-awareness that one reaches after years of personal growth and development, in light of Buddhist philosophy.
Although the flower is nuanced in meaning, and is indicative of different things dependent on it’s colour, the religious philosophy in which it is found, or the age and maturity of the plant, for me it is a sweet reminder of the life we are all capable of-a life which emerges from the pain, darkness and suffering of our past, but that can transform and expand into a reflection of beauty, peace and awareness, just as the lotus flower does, in a world which tries so hard to hold us down.
Since that night on the lake last week, I’ve started to notice the lotus flower more. From the center of the city, to outside the local temples, ‘Padma’ is always tangible here in Thailand. Silently it waits and observes, hoping we too follow in it’s footsteps and leave the dark realms of suffering and move towards light💡
#thailand #buddhism #studyabroad #blog #lotusflower #peace #travel #religion #spirituality