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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