The Jewel in the Lotus —

Anyone who’s flirted even mildly with Tibetan Buddhism knows this mantra for chanting: Om mani padme humWhat does it mean? “Hail, The Jewel is in the Lotus.” But what does that mean?

Even though I’ve chanted it myself (although I am not a Buddhist), I can’t tell you its deep meaning either spiritually or philosophically —  But I can tell you what it means literally, now that a kind and generous friend went miles out of her way to lead me to a lotus pond in full bloom, not in Tibet, not in Japan, but in my own backyard (almost):

It’s late in August, the best time at least in these latitudes for the mystic blossoms of the lotus, jewel-like in their deep green setting:

This is a better view of the characteristic lotus flower, whose roots are deep in the mud, but which pierces above its own leafy canopy to lift its flowers to heaven:


And the regal crown of the flower in turn becomes a throne uplifting manifestations of the Buddha and other Eastern deities, male and female, in myriad sculptures.  No wonder the lotus has come to be a symbol of purity, of the marriage of earth and heaven, the indissoluble union of baseness and nobility. The lotus says to us (translated into modern language), Ease up on yourself! You’re not meant to be a heavenly creature. You are of earth and you are of the spirit both, you are a jewel in a lotus with roots in the mud. Hail to the jewel in the lotus!

This is a print by 20th century Japanese artist Kawase Hasui:

Benten Pond, Shiba, by Kawase Hasui

A print of the famous Benten Pond at Shiba by Hasui has hung on our wall for decades now, long before we moved to Massachusetts. It has always been a promise of something beautiful, mysterious, and only to be found far far away. And now, it is fulfilled. Om mani padme hum!

This entry was posted in Art, Buddha, Etcetera, Flowers, Japan, Pioneer Valley, Wisdom, Wonderings, Zen and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

39 Responses to The Jewel in the Lotus —

  1. Chef Emil says:

    Oh my how incredible!!! What an amazing lotus pond and what wonderful words and thoughts!!! I was mezmerized by your words and photos and they came to me, as almost you knew I needed them today! A large weight has been lifted from my soul by your post……..thank you, thank you, thank you……….Om mani padme hum!


  2. Chef Emil says:

    Amazing…………..your words and photographs are incredible!!! At this very time I needed to hear those words and re-center myself and here you are! You have touched me in a very, very special way at the very time my soul felt empty. INCREDIBLE………..thank you very, very, very much! Chef Emil aka The Tin Man


    • Touch2Touch says:

      And I will accept two thank-yous as graciously as I can —
      It’s like paying something forward. When I’m down, I know that other bloggers, maybe you! will be there to uplift my spirits.
      The Tin Man has a big red heart, and we know that sometimes hearts will ache. We’re all in this together, Chef Emil!


  3. Smallpeace says:

    Oh the luscious, luscious lotus–of the earth and of the spirit both. I just may have to have a print of a lotus field by Kawase Hasui. What an inspiring post.


    • Touch2Touch says:

      Thanks very much, Michelle. We have two Hasui prints (one the lotus pond, the other a rainy street in Kyoto) that we’ve lived with most satisfyingly for years. (Sorry, that’s Nara!)


  4. It truly is a beautiful flower. Even the leaves are rich in colour. I once had a vision of the lotus flower as being the center of creation and up, from the heart of her, rose petal wrapped humans as they began their journey. Wish i could paint.


  5. Gemma says:

    Your photos are simply beautiful. The lotus, an inspiring subject and your words, thought provoking. “ease up on yourself” Ahhhh. Much needed to be heeded words for today.


  6. suitablefish says:

    untranslatable. . . a prayer to Chenrezig, the bodhisattva of compassion. . . from a teacher I greatly respect:

    “There is not a single aspect of the eighty-four thousand sections of the Buddha’s teachings which is not contained in Avalokiteshvara’s six syllable mantra “Om Mani Padme Hum”, and as such the qualities of the “mani” are praised again and again in the Sutras and Tantras…. Whether happy or sad, if we take the “mani” as our refuge, Chenrezig will never forsake us, spontaneous devotion will arise in our minds and the Great Vehicle will effortlessly be realized.”
    Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche
    — Heart Treasure of the Enlightened Ones

    thank you for the gorgeous photographs of the lotus.


  7. cocomino says:

    The last picture is really impressive. I didn’t know him. What a shame.


  8. Madhu says:

    Beautiful words and pictures. That print almost seems like a rendering of your lotus pond 🙂


  9. lijiun says:

    Amazing! May you be Happy and Well!


  10. ristinw says:

    What an amazing lotus pond! 😀 Lovely!


  11. eof737 says:

    Beautiful, beautiful and very uplifting too… The lotus pond is magnificent. 😉


  12. My friend, this one brought tears to my eyes. What a magical manifestation of the painting that has for so long been a part of your life! Such a blessing for you – and now, for us!


  13. Patti Kuche says:

    What a spectacular display and I love the progression of your shots! To come home to the fulfillment of such a mysterious promise, as you say – so beautiful, so simple and all with the bonus to “ease up!” Relaxed already, thank you Judith!


  14. You have given us beauty in not only pictures but your words also. Lotus…. now I have to learn more about them. Very nice!


  15. pauline says:

    “the indissoluble union of baseness and nobility”
    such a comforting thought brought by such a beautiful messenger!


  16. Angelia Sims says:

    Wow! That is gorgeous! And the meaning and purpose of the chant really resonates so beautifully in the soul. Wonderful post!!


    • Touch2Touch says:

      For some reason the words of your comment suddenly triggered the sounds again within my mind, om mani padme hum — a wonderful way to start the morning. Thanks so much, Angelia!


  17. 2e0mca says:

    A thought provoking post Judith – I was admiring the Lotus plants at Kew last week but they weren’t in flower, just the leaves and the seed heads


    • Touch2Touch says:

      In our climates I think the flowering period isn’t so long. When I went back a couple of weeks ago, it was the last gasp for a few blossoms. I’ve marked my next year’s calendar for July!


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