“The Secret Teachings of All Ages” by Manly P. Hall: Part 5 – Lotus Symbolism

In “Chapter XX: Flowers, Plants, Fruits, and Trees,” Manly P. Hall discusses the symbolism of the lotus.

In the Hindu system of philosophy, each petal of the form bears a certain symbol which gives an added clue to the meaning of the flower. The Orientals also used the lotus plant to signify the growth of man through the three periods of human consciousness—ignorance, endeavor, and understanding. As the lotus exists in three elements (earth, water, and air) so man lives in three worlds—material, intellectual, and spiritual. As the plant, with its roots in the mud and the slime, grows upward through the water and finally blossoms forth in the light and air, so the spiritual growth of man is upward from the darkness of base action and desire into the light of truth and understanding, the water serving as a symbol of the ever-changing world of illusion through which the soul must pass in its struggle to reach the state of spiritual illumination. The rose and its Eastern equivalent, the lotus, like all beautiful flowers, represent spiritual unfoldment and attainment: hence, the Eastern deities are often seated upon the open petals of the lotus blossoms.

(pp. 293 – 294)

The comparison between the lotus and the spiritual growth of an individual is clear from Hall’s explanation, but what I think is interesting is applying the lotus symbolism to the cycles of human development as a whole. If we take a step back and look at historical cycles, they seem to mirror the growth of the lotus. Collectively, humanity begins in a state of materialism, which gives rise to increased intellectualism. This in turn leads to state of collective spirituality which, unable to sustain itself for a prolonged period of time, ultimately reverts back to materialism and the cycle begins anew.

What is worth considering is that these cycles seem to be increasing in speed. It used to be that one stage of the cycle would last hundreds of years (consider the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, the Industrial Age, just to name a few). In our modern world culture, we are seeing these cycles in terms of decades and not centuries, and it almost feels like we are spinning toward annual stages in the cycle. What this means and what the end result for humanity will be is anyone’s guess. Personally, I see us nearing the center of a Yeatsean gyre. What will happen when we reach the point that the center can no longer hold? That will be a question for future historians.

That’s all for today. Thanks for stopping by and sharing in my musings. I hope you have a blessed day.

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6 Comments

Filed under Non-fiction, Spiritual

6 responses to ““The Secret Teachings of All Ages” by Manly P. Hall: Part 5 – Lotus Symbolism

  1. Guess the stage where in here now Jeff is the Pandemic stage which is approaching year two. hopefully this cycle ends sooner than later and not last 100 years!
    Great stuff as always Jeff.

    • Yeah, we are in a very weird place, for sure. Everyone is so stressed and anxious and angry. There needs to be a collective “chilling out.” Like you, I’m hoping that will happen soon. Thanks for reading and commenting. Stay safe.

  2. Very interesting. I think you’re right about how the lotus analogy can be applied to history and human growth as well. I’ve been re-reading the Bagavad Gita lately. So much wisdom there in Hindu philosophy. And this morning I read an article in Scientific American entitled “Maybe Life Is A Dream” about quantum physics. It too seems to lead back to what Hindu mystics and others have been saying about the nature of reality. Which means maybe we all can just chill about the current chaos. It’s all subjective anyway, so we can choose how we ride this out.

    • Hi Deborah. Thank you for this thoughtful comment. I am in full agreement with you on all points. I am fascinated and encouraged how science and mysticism seem to be realigning. And yes, we need to collectively chill out, stop fighting with each other over petty things, and let go of the fear and anger that is the driving motivator for so many people. I hope you have a blessed day. Thanks for all you do 🙏

  3. Jeff,
    Thanks for your wise, thoughtful posts. Congratulations on a MILLION views!

    • Hey Jerry! Thank you for reading, and for bringing the Million Views to my attention. I’ve been so busy w work I did not even notice. Hope you are well. Chat soon!