The Lotus Flower and the Painful Mud of Life

The Lotus Flower and the Mud of Life (On meaning of lotus flower and mud of life meaning)

Have you ever heard the story of the lotus flower growing out of the mud in the lake? It is a myth about the seed of compassion which lies dormant buried in the mud at the bottom of the lake and inside each one of us. It might lay there for a whole lifespan, totally hidden and undisturbed until it sprouts and breaks out of the water totally untainted by the mud. The following article is about its meaning.

The seed, mud and the lake

The seed of compassion represents our innate capacity to transform not only our suffering but also the suffering of others.

The mud represents the darker side within you. All the troublesome, painful thought and emotions that afflict you on a day to day basis, like anger, desire, jealousy, and pride.

The lake symbolises the depths of your psyche, while the surface of the lake is the boundary between your unconscious and conscious thoughts and desires.

What germinates the seed?

According to the myth, what activates the seed below the mud, starting off its germination is a compassionate motive — particularly an innate longing to open our hearts to the suffering of ourselves and others.  Without any fear to encounter this suffering and a motivation to do something to relieve it.

The myth, explains that it is the seed of compassion that makes the lotus flower shoot, start to sprout.  And as you continue to practice mindfulness and compassion meditation, the shoot continues to grow until it eventually breaks the surface of the water.

Now, though it’s grown out of the mud, once it blooms and breaks the surface of the water, the lotus flower is entirely unmarked by the mud.  Here the lotus flower being free of the mud symbolises that the mind that opens to compassion can transcend suffering.

“Whenever you doubt your self-worth, remember the Lotus Flower.  Even though it emerges from the mud, once it blooms and breaks the surface of the water, the lotus flower is entirely unmarked by the dirt that surrounded it.”

Clayton Micallef (2019) – The Lotus Flower and The Mud of Life
The lotus flower linked to the mud

The most crucial part of this story is that the lotus flower cannot exist without the mud as the mud was the actual manure that fed the plant and made it.

Which, symbolises that the element of compassion permits us to see shame, desire and other troublesome aspects of ourselves as the manure of transformation.

So, it is not about getting rid of the troublesome elements within yourself, those which afflict us on a day to day basis, like anger, desire, jealousy, and pride (a near-impossible endeavour). Instead, it’s about acknowledging these feelings and seeing them as a potential source of powerful inner transformation. 

The moral of the myth

The moral of this myth is that the story uses the lotus flower as an example to symbolise that the awakening of compassion and inner transformation can, at times depend on the dark and troublesome elements within yourself.

Such that in a world where the struggle with suffering seems to have become a way of life.  The lotus flower is a symbol that brings hope.  Likewise, as the flower rises above the mud, although it might seem impossible so too we can rise above the suffering.

What are your thoughts leave us a comment below.

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Gilbert, P., & Choden. (2014). Mindful compassion. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications.

Hanh, T. N. (2015). No mud, no lotus. Berkeley, CA: Parallax Press.

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14 thoughts on “The Lotus Flower and the Painful Mud of Life”

  1. Actually, criticism of people, if positively considered, makes you so strong and you eventually find the better version of you! Every problem, every criticism would definitely help you to raise through them!

    1. Yes, it’s true when criticism is delivered constructivly, taking positively can help in your personal growth. Although when criticism is not delivered in a constructive manner or is shaming towards the person it can have profound negative effects

  2. This is beautiful! I didn’t know this myth and also didnt know that the lotus flower grew from mud. I love the message of this myth, definitely one I’ll remember. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Wayne Dyer said we all carry our manure around with us… and that we either use it to grow, or we spread it all over ourselves and walk around (complaining, etc).

    This is a good article. Perhaps we are not to outgrow our limitations, but to grow “through” our limitations. Great article.

  4. Its interesting how you use analogies to derive such a crucial spiritual message. Loved the hope that you put forward through the spiritually symbolical flower, lotus! Well written 🙂

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