Symbolic Significance of the Lotus Flowers
In acknowledgement of our title, Buddhist Reflections, we begin by looking at symbolic significance of the lotus flowers, one of the most powerful and widely reproduced images within Buddhist iconography. Lotus flowers are one of the eight auspicious symbols in Buddhism, which include the Parasol, the Golden Fish, the Great Treasure Vase, the right-turning Conch Shell, the Endless Knot, the Banner of Victory and the Wheel of Dharma.
The conch shell is seen in Sinxay as the body of Sinxay’s twin brother, Sangthong. Each symbol represents an aspect of Buddhist teaching and when they appear together (like on a conch shell we purchased in Nepal), their powers are multiplied. But we want to begin this section by looking at the beautiful lotus flower.
In the photos above we see a blooming pink lotus flower on the left, juxtaposed to the right by a photo of three spent lotus blossoms, which, after having bloomed, have gracefully laid down upon the surface of the water. This is one of our favorite lotus photos, all taken in Laos. In our mind the three flowers represent the “letting go” of our attachments which keep so many mired in the mud of samsara. Many temples in Laos and Thailand have ponds, and almost all have a beautiful variety of lotus flowers, with mesmerizing blooms that captivate the spirits of laity when they come to the temple.
On the Religion Facts website it states, “The lotus is one of the most well-known symbols of Buddhism. The lotus flower is one of the “Eight Auspicious Symbols” in the religion, and is one of the most important images in the faith. The roots of a lotus flower extend into the mud and the stem grows up through the water and the flower blossoms above the surface. In Buddhist thought, this pattern of growth signifies the progress of the soul from the primeval mud of materialism, through the waters of experience, and into the bright sunshine of enlightenment. Though there are other water plants that bloom above the water, it is only the lotus which, owing to the strength of its stem, regularly rises eight to twelve inches above the surface. See photo gallery for more photos of lotuses taken in Laos.
“The spirit of the best of men is spotless, like the lotus in the muddy water which does not adhere to it.”According to the Buddhist scholar Lalitavistara
“In esoteric Buddhism, the heart of the beings is like an unopened lotus: when the virtues of the Buddha develop therein, the lotus blossoms; that is why the Buddha sits on a lotus bloom.”According to the Buddhist scholar Lalitavistara
Tibetan Wheel of Life
The rich Buddhist symbolism seen in Nepal and Tibet, includes the Tibetan Wheel of Life, a symbolic representation of samsara found on the outside walls of Tibetan Buddhist temples and monasteries in the Indo-Tibetan region [Tibet, India, Nepal, Bhutan. In the Mahāyāna Buddhist tradition, many believe it was the Buddha who came up with the concept of this painting in order to help ordinary people better understand the essential teachings of Buddhism, similar to the role of Jataka tales. The three poisons of greed, hate, and delusion (represented in Sinxay by Nyak Koumphan) are graphically displayed in the center of the Tibetan Wheel of Life (image seen above) as a rooster, representing greed; a snake, representing anger and hate; and a pig, representing delusion and ignorance; all endlessly chasing one another’s tails. Laminated posters of the Wheel of Life Painting (which we purchased in Nepal) will be available for sale in the future on this website.
One of the leading proponents of Sinxay in Southeast Asia is Songwit Pimpakun, Assistant Professor at Faculty of Fine and Applied Arts Khon Kaen University. It is clear that he not only looks at Sinxay from an keen academic perspective, but is passionate about...read more