For thousands of years, the lotus flower has been admired as a sacred symbol. This striking plant is a common icon in the art of several Eastern spiritual traditions. To some, the lotus represents truth, goodness, beauty, purity, and divinity. Certain meditation practices involve visualizing the heart as a lotus flower unfolding. In yoga, the lotus posture is used by those who seek to achieve higher levels of consciousness.
The lotus is an aquatic plant and grows in shallow water, rooted in mud. The stems reach to the surface, where the leaves grow and where the flower may bloom even under difficult conditions. Thus the lotus symbolizes the evolution of our consciousness and our ability to rise beyond base impulses to achieve the full enlightenment to which we all (consciously or unconsciously) aspire.
Biologically, the lotus is an impressive plant. Research has shown that the flower can actually self-regulate its own temperature, perhaps as a means of better attracting insect pollinators. Research has also shown that the seeds of the lotus, stored under suitable conditions, can remain viable for hundreds or even thousands of years.
The flowers and leaves of the plant are edible and rich in nutrients. The leaves are used as food, often as a kind of vegetable wrap for other foods. The flowers are used as an edible garnish or in teas and a variety of traditional natural medicines. Some believe that the essence of the fragrant lotus flower enhances healing on every level.
Lotus blossoms open and close with each sunrise and sunset. This opening and closing of the petals is said to represent the universe, eternity, and all of creation, folding and unfolding through cycles of time. It also represents the story of the human soul, striving through cycles of birth and rebirth to reach the highest levels of awareness and equanimity.