Live like a lotus

How to Exist Like a Lotus, According to Ancient Buddhist Scripture

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Growing up, whenever faced with difficult people, unpleasant behaviors, or any toxic situation capable of disturbing the peace of mind…a piece of advice given the most often in our household were these timeless words of wisdom coming from the ethos of eastern wisdom traditions –


Just be Jal Kamal Vat!


In Sanskrit, Jal means Water, Kamal means Lotus & Vat, means Like. Thus, it translates to only this – Be like a lotus!

Though extremely simple, this statement can be life-changing if one grasps the deep spiritual insight it holds.

So, what exactly does it mean to be like a Lotus?

Well, if you have ever laid your eyes on a lotus floating serenely on the water with its sculpture-like leaves and majestic-looking blooms, you may still remember being mesmerized by its ethereal beauty. But do you know, its roots beneath live in mud and the murkiest of waters?

At night, the flower gets submerged in the water, but when it comes out on the surface in the morning, blossoming again and reaching upwards for the sun & air, it is sparkling clean, without any trace of mud or even water on the petals! The flower not only remains unaffected by its dirty environment, it actually thrives in it!

Because of this miraculous ability of the Lotus flower, Buddha had likened a fully bloomed Lotus with an awakened being, according to Tripitaka – the earliest Buddhist scripture written in the ancient Pali language.

There is a sublime poem in one of its books, Theragatha – Verses of the elder monks. A disciple named Udayin recites it in the presence of Buddha to let him know that he had fully understood the characteristics of an enlightened being – a Buddha. The following verse is a small part of the poem in Devanagari script:

As the flower of a lotus,
arisen in water, blossoms;
Pure-scented and pleasing the mind,
yet is not drenched by the water.
In the same way, born in the world,
the Buddha abides in the world;
And like the lotus by water,
he does not get drenched by the world.

(Translated from the Pali
by Andrew Olendzki © 2005)

A person gets drenched by the world when they let negative emotions like anger, frustration, envy cling to them, giving way to a behavior that is not in agreement with their true self. Existing like Lotus simply means not to get drenched by the world while still living in it. Fascinating, right? :)

If you are interested in knowing more spiritual, cultural, and botanical aspects of the Lotus plant, I would suggest you read this altogether transcendental analysis.

Article ©2021 Gyaneshwari Dave

Feature Image: Richard Kasperowski on Unsplash

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