No Mud, No Lotus: a symbol of beauty growing out of suffering

Having recently experienced a rather difficult life event, what has intrigued me is rather than getting swept away by the barrage of emotions, how instead my attention has been gradually been drawn to the beauty and blessings that arose from this tragedy. This response reminded me of the famous quote and teachings by Thich Nhat Hanh: “no mud, no lotus”. A lotus flower begins growing at the bottom of a muddy, murky pool, and slowly emerges toward the surface, bursting out of the water into a beautiful blossom. During the night the lotus closes and sinks under the water, and emerges again with the sunlight of a new day.

To me, the lotus in the mud symbolizes the hardships and difficulties of life, or a challenging time we have faced or are facing.  As with the stem growing toward the surface, we also grow through our experiences, through our difficulties, learning lessons along the way, removing obstacles and overcoming our adversities. As the petals unfold, we too unfold, and become like a lotus rising from the murky waters and flowering into something beautiful.

In his book “No mud no lotus”, Buddhist monk Thich Naht Hanh writes:

The work of mindfulness is first to recognize the suffering and second to embrace it. A mother taking care of a crying baby naturally will take the child into her arms without suppressing, judging it, or ignoring the crying. Mindfulness is like that mother, recognizing and embracing suffering without judgment. So the practice is not to fight or suppress the feeling, but rather to cradle it with a lot of tenderness, (pp. 26-27).

Mindfulness and bringing kindness (kindfulness I like to call it!) to myself through daily practice has been the key in transforming the suffering I experience and I hope that I can bring this to your life too. I offer mindfulness courses and one-to-one sessions at the Green Parrot – please see the Green Parrot website or for more information.