Be Like the Lotus Flower: Be Reborn Every Day and Overcome Adversity
Nature gives us the most unexpected answers when we didn’t even think there could be anything beyond our own mind, our own hopes, and our own desire to keep moving forward. Far from showing a monotonous and predictable reality, every corner where nature grows freely brings us a new lesson about what it means to live in this world.
In the great variety of manifestations, species, and phenomena it produces, we run into genuine lessons about how to face life. Genuine psychological theories without control over variables or analysis of the reliability or validity, but that contain a message whose beauty and meaning is unarguable.
From among the infinite and curious phenomena of nature, we can pick out the lotus flower. A sui generis phenomena that turns into a thrilling metaphor for life and the adversities that we have to face each and every day.
The lotus flower
The lotus flower is a kind of water lily whose roots are buried in the mud and sludge of lakes and ponds. The lotus flower has the seed with the greatest longevity and resistance: it can live for up to 30 centuries before blooming without ever losing its fertility.
The lotus flower is a symbol of the purity and beauty that can rise up from a swampy area.
This beautiful flower emerges and feeds on the mud in swamps or swampy areas and when it blooms, it rises up out of the mud. At night, the petals of this flower close and the flower dives down below the water. It closes up to dunk down into the water, but at sunrise, it comes back up again above the dirty water, intact and without any signs of impurity that can be seen amongst its spiral-shaped petals.
The lotus flower has the peculiarity of being the only flower that is also simultaneously a fruit: the fruit has the shape of an inverted cone and its found inside it. When the flower is closed, it doesn’t smell, but when it opens up, its aroma reminds us of a hyacinth. Many consider its aroma to be hypnotic, capable of altering our state of mind.
Mythology concerning the lotus flower
The fascination over this flower has led it to become a fundamental symbol for a plethora of civilizations throughout history. The lotus flower is considered holy and it is one of the oldest symbols with multiple meanings for oriental countries, though we also find multiple references to it in the western world.
In Greek mythology, the lotophagi or lotus-eaters were a mythical race that the ancient Greeks identified with the inhabitants of a population in northeastern Africa. The legend tells us that a beautiful goddess got lost in a forest until she finally arrived at a place where there was an abundance of mud, called lotus, where she drowned.
This space had been created by the gods for beings whose destiny had been to fail in life. However, the young goddess fought for thousands of years until she managed to escape from there, changed into a beautiful lotus flower, symbolizing the triumph of perseverance in the face of adverse situations.
In Buddhist thinking, the lotus serves as the seat or throne for Buddha or the Buddhas and indicates a divine birth. In the Christian world, the lotus flower is the white lily that means both fertility and purity. Traditionally, the archangel Gabriel takes the annunciation lily to the Virgin Mary.
The lotus flower and its meaning for psychology
The lotus flower symbolizes the power of psychological resistance as the ability to transform adversity into potential. Suzanne C. Kobasa, psychologist at the University of Chicago, led several studies in which she found that individuals with resistant personalities have a series of characteristics in common. They tend to be people with great determination, control, and goal-oriented.
“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths.”
– Elisabeth Kubler Ross-
This explanation was later reconceptualized with the term resilience, the essence of the resistant personality. Resilience is often defined as the ability of individuals to overcome periods of emotional pain and great adversity.
The lotus flower comes to be a magnificent metaphor for how there are people capable of folding pain up and unfolding it later in the form of serenity, self-control, and persistence.