As one of the 8 Auspicious Symbols of Buddhism, the lotus represents spiritual wisdom. The roots of the lotus are in the mud, the stem grows up through the water, and the bloom sits in the sunlight. This growth from the mud through the water and into the sunlight represents the paths our souls can take from the mud of materialism to the warmth of enlightenment. The heart is like the unopened lotus and when the virtues of Buddha rest in one’s heart, the lotus opens. This is why you often see deities sitting in an open lotus. The color of the lotus is important as well. A white lotus signifies spiritual perfection and mental purity. The red lotus represents the virtues of the heart like passion, love, and compassion. The blue lotus symbolizes the triumph of the spirit over the senses and wisdom of knowledge. Finally a pink lotus is associated with the supreme deity, or Buddha himself.
The lotus is sacred among many world religions, not just Buddhism. An eight-petaled lotus represents cosmic harmony and a thousand-petaled lotus spiritual illumination. In Greek and Roman Christian iconography, the Angel Gabriel can be seen holding water lilies in many depictions of the Annunciation (when he came to Mary to tell her she would be the mother of Christ). In Hinduism, the seed of the lotus is important because they contain perfectly formed leaves, the blueprint of the perfection of what is to come and what is already inside every human being. The lotus was used frequently in Egyptian art, as it symbolized rebirth to them. In Taoism, the lotus means openness and wisdom. Many Taoist artists will depict it as a reminder of the miracle of beauty, light, and life.
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