The Lotus Blossom
The Lotus Blossom symbolizes the causality of the spiritual life.
up from the mud of the swamp (the physical world, the body)
Growing up through its murky waters (the world of sensory desire & emotions)
Penetrating the air (the mental world of thoughts and ideas) and
Aspiring towards the light of the sun1 (the spiritual illumination, the Dharma)
It blossoms into a pure white flower (S. Pundarika is the white lotus).
It thus represents the Four Virtues of Nirvana personified by the Four Bodhisattvas
Leading the countless Bodhisattvas that spring up from the earth.
The Lotus Blossom symbolizes the insperability of the cause & effect, the provision & reality, and the source & manifestation of enlightenment.
Kuang-Ting's introduction of the 'Hidden Meaning of the Lotus Sutra' (C. Fa-Hua Hsuan-I, J. Hokke Gengi) says:
Because the Wonderful Dharma (C. Miao-Fa, J. Myoho) is difficult to understand, the illustration of the Lotus Blossom (C. Lien-Hua, J. Renge) is put forward to make it easier to express.
In outlining this from beginning to end, there are six parts.
A. The Lotus Fruit represents the Reality (the seed-bearing fruit of enlightenment) whereas the Blossom represents the Provision (which is the means to enlightenment) – The quotes here are from the Chapter Two of The Lotus Sutra (On the Ways & Means):
1. For the sake of the lotus fruit, there is the blossom; this illustrates that for the sake of the reality one offers a
provision. The text of the Sutra says:
“Although understanding the highest serenity of extinction,
With the power of ways and means
I indicated various different paths (to its realization);
But their reality was always the One Vehicle of Enlightenment”
2. The blossom opens up and the lotus fruit is
manifested; this illustrates opening up the provision and revealing the
reality. The text of The Lotus Sutra says:
“Opening up the doors of ways and means and
Revealing the true aspect of reality”
3. The blossom falls away, and the lotus fruit
remains. This illustrates the discarding of the provision, and the establishing
of the reality. The text of The Lotus Sutra says:
“Simply discarding the ways and means and
Only teaching the supreme path of enlightenment.”
And the seed-bearing lotus fruit illustrates the source whereas the blossom illustrates the manifestation. The quotes here are from the sixteenth Chapter of The Lotus Sutra (On Measuring the Life):
1. From the source (the lotus fruit) one takes on a
manifestation (the blossom). The manifestation depends upon the source. The
text of The Lotus Sutra says:
“I have really attained enlightenment and come here for eternity, as I have told you.
However to instruct and influence living beings I have taught
that while young I left home and attained Sambodhi.”
2. The blossom opens up the lotus is manifested; this
illustrates opening up the manifestation and revealing the source. The text of
The Lotus Sutra says:
“All the world reasons that I have just in this lifetime first attained enlightenment,
but I have attained enlightenment and come here for limitless boundless lifetimes (kalpas).”
3. The blossom falls away and the lotus is attained; this
illustrates the discarding of the manifestation and the establishing of the
source. The text of The Lotus Sutra says:
“All the teachings of the Buddhas are like this to save living beings,
all are true and none are false.”
Because of this we first indicate the Wonderful Dharma (C. Miao-Fa, J. Myoho) and then we illustrate the Lotus Blossom (C. Lien-Hoa, J. Renge).
Next Page Teachings Home
1. The Lotus and the Sun: Nichiren's name literally means 'Sun-Lotus'
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