Saturday, January 16, 2010

Reflections on the lotus 2

Lotus plants grow best when sown in shallow muddy waters.  Their roots spread under the water and then the plants rise up, metres above the surface, leaves and flowers and pods.  Because these all appear on the plant at the same time, the lotus represents the past, the present and the future.  Rich, beauty that fills the space more than might be thought possible, while preparing its seed pods for the plants of tomorrow.

Like the muddy pond beneath the flowers, the romantic poet Keats believed that man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without reaching after fact and reason*.  He was saying that acceptance of the unknown is needed before beauty can emerge tall and strong. It is this belief that led him to write poems of great beauty and passion.  And it is a way of looking at the future, at how to make beauty from the spaces around us.  To encourage richness and completeness from where it doesn't yet exist and to allow the space for it to be.

Long ago, before Vishnu and Laksmi were tiffing in the kitchens of Javanese puppet makers, the god Shiva emerged from the Absolute, the highest way of being, golden and pure, space.  Or so it is represented in some delightful paintings from Rajastan, currently on exhibition at the Art Gallery of NSW (Gardens and Cosmos).

So, when times are quiet, remember the spaces are needed for new growth to emerge.  When things are murky, remember that the muddy waters are needed to enrich the roots.  And if you are a lotus, your inclination, without knowing, will always be to reach up, towards the sun and to regenerate for tomorrow.

*As described in a letter to his brother dated 21 Dec 1817, he called this theory 'negative capability'

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