BE A LOTUS, Self-sufficient, Grateful, Strong and Compassionate | Dr. Abeer Elgamal

December 14, 2020
By: Dr. Abeer Elgamal

Are you going through a really difficult phase of your life?
Do you find the circumstances of your life unbearable?
Do you have crushing financial problems?
Do you have to deal with extremely difficult people?

If your answer to any of these questions is a “yes”, simply BE A LOTUS. Yes, you read this right. Just be a lotus.  Why a lotus?  Let’s explore it together.

Frank DePietro

Be self-sufficient

The lotus flower, referred to as water lily, is an extremely beautiful bowl-shaped flower with broad, flat leaves that float above water. It is both ornamental and sweet smelling and is surrounded by circular green leaves called lily pads that float around it in a spectacular scene of beauty and color. Unlike other delicate flowers, a lotus requires no special care since it grows naturally in ponds, lakes, slow-moving streams and even swamps.    A lotus then, depends on no one; is self-sufficient and self-providing, are you? 

Be grateful for what you have, be yourself

The Lotus actually starts its journey of growth deep under the mud, in the dark bottom of the water until it makes its way to the surface.  The flower gracefully extends out of the water and blossoms into fifteen white, pink and sometimes blue oval shaped petals that spread open to savor the sun rays.  The lotus shares its beauty and perfume with the world while we humans fail to count our blessings and feel grateful for them. Instead, we keep complaining about our hard circumstances and allow them to shackle our progress in life. Can we be a lotus in this sense?

Be strong and transcend your limitations

Despite its splendor and elegance, the lotus flower thrives in the mud; it can grow in swamps and live in muddy or even contaminated water.  However, you will always find it spotless clean and untouched by impurity.  Its leaves shed the dirt away and never allow themselves to get smeared or spotted by it.    Can we humans be that immune to our surroundings?  Can we rise above our circumstances and origins and transcend the ugliness of the real world and keep thriving and moving on by sheer will and inner strength?   Can we be a lotus in this sense?

Be compassionate and generous

During the day, a lotus is out and about; it is there in its colorful splendor in the middle of lovely green pads sharing its beauty with the beholder.   Together, they provide shade and shelter to tiny water creatures which cling to them.  It is not only the spectacular scene of beauty that makes the lotus a unique flower, but the unconditional protection and providing for other creatures as well. Can we be generous to others like a lotus is? Can we provide another human being with protection, care or maybe just a little sympathy that will help them move through life knowing that there is someone to lean on?  Can we be a lotus in this sense? 

Be wise, detached and self-caring

With sunset, the lotus closes its leaves to protect its curious flat seedcase center from night predators.  It is wise enough to shut the outer world away when it has to only to have a new birth with the next day, are we humans that wise?  Can we decide when to leave everything behind and retreat into ourselves to nourish and recollect our energy to face the world anew?  Can we be a lotus in this sense? 

The Lotus as a Symbol

In Ancient Egypt 

It is no wonder the lotus flower is one of the most unique symbols of almost all the ancient cultures of our planet.  In ancient Egypt, the lotus is symbol and icon in the mythology and legends ; it is was widely depicted in ancient Egyptian art.  it symbolized the process of rebirth and regeneration of the dead upon entering the underworld.  It was also a symbol of the sun itself, and was thus closely associated with Atum-Ra, the Sun god and later with Nefertum, god of perfume.  Even more, it was used to symbolize our splendid Upper Egypt. 

As an art motif, the lotus was widely drawn in sacred places throughout ancient Egypt.  It ornamented the tops of pillars in temples; it was there in the tomb Hieroglyphics, it was engraved on walls, depicted on papyrus, and topped the  thrones and headdresses of the pharaohs.

In Buddhism

A lotus symbolizes purity of the body, the tongue, and mind.  According to Buddhism, every human being has the potential to become perfect and enlightened, as long as he/she is keen on reaching the light.  The analogy of the human self to a Lotus is clear as while rooted in the mud, its flowers blossom above the muddy waters of attachment and desire.  It is also symbolic of detachment as drops of dirty water easily slide off its petals.  Many Hindu gods, and the Buddha himself, are depicted sitting or standing on a Lotus to symbolize the ability to overcome the pain that prevails in the material world and to transcend it and be enlightened, just like the Lotus flower. 

Be a Lotus

Delicate and beautiful as it may appear to be, a lotus flower had gained its reputation as strong, pure, generous and perfect across cultures and throughout times.  It also has its scientifically- proven medicinal benefits but let’s save this for another time. For now let’s just try to be as graceful, strong, pure, loving and generous as a LOTUS.

Dr. Abeer Elgamal is associate professor of English Literature and Head of the department of foreign Languages, Faculty of Education, Mansoura University. She has studied and taught for over twenty-five years in various universities in Egypt, USA and the gulf and she takes great pride in her academic career and her role as an educator. She considers herself lucky since her career allows her to follow her passion for creative writing, reading and translating literature. She is a published author and translator. She believes her family is the main source of her inspiration and is immensely grateful for the love and support it offers.

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