I recently had this dream where they showed me this beautiful bright pink Lotus Flower and it was being placed in a floating altar. Then I heard: “When you put a Lotus flower in an altar you can only admire it’s beauty and that is not practical”. When I woke up I remembered the characteristics of a Lotus Flower. How it rises above the mud in order to bloom and how its roots help purify the muddy water. In Buddhism we have the Lotus Sutra and it is one of the most important Sutras of Buddhism. Buddhist Pureland practice say you will be reborn inside a Lotus Flower and listen to the Dharma until you are ready to reach Nirvana. My intention is not to say that this is true or not. I just want to put emphasis on how highly regarded the Lotus Flower is. So yes, it is highly admired and venerated but whatever your object of veneration is, should be practical not just mental.
When I was little I red this story about a statue of a prince and a bird. Thirty years later that same story was told to me by a Buddhist nun and she also added the meaning of the story which was never revealed to me when I was little and now I finally understand. In short, it is the story of a compassionate bird who on his migration down south finds the statue of a Saint/Bodhisattva/Spiritual teacher, the name is not important, what is important is that it is the bird’s object of veneration. So the bird stops and ask the statue, how to serve the world on his behalf… The statue as statue does not say anything. Regardless the bird becomes inspired to do good deeds for people in the name of the statue and keeps coming back to tell the statue what he did and asked for more tasks to carry out. Still, the statue is just a statue and does not say anything. Still, the bird finds inspiration to keep doing more good deeds on behalf of his object of veneration. The message of the story is that no matter what you choose to venerate, if it does not inspire you to take action to better your life or the life of others, then you are just sitting there admiring its beauty and that is not practical. Whether is a statue, a flower, a nun, a loved one etc, if we are not being inspired to take action and carry out beneficial deeds for ourselves or the rest of the world then our spiritual practice is just a repetitive ritual.
The Lotus Flower is very important in my life. I feel I have been in the mud and I know I have done my best to rise above and bloom then use my experience to help purify the mud I was in; and when I say purify, I don’t mean it is dirty and I must clean it. When I say purify, I mean bring relief to people who are in pain and understanding to people who are emotionally in distress. And the mud to me is just the world we live in. Mud is not dirty water. Mud is the mix of water and soil stirred up. When you keep pouring water to the mud, eventually you will have more water than soil. The water represents our good deeds and the soil represents the world. Eventually everything settles, the soil settles to the bottom, the water above and the beauty of the Lotus Flower blooms above it all but it needs both the soil and the water as mud in order to be born. This represent all of us inspiring each other, enticing each other, annoying each other, pushing each other. We are all interconnected and you never know who will be that next person or what will be that next experience that moves you to take action to change your life and expand in new ways. Just like the mud is not dirty water, people are neither good nor bad. The mud needs soil and water to be mud and the Lotus needs the mud to bloom. When you see things from this point of view then you can see how we are all beneficial to each others' growth and expansion.
Also, the moral of the story of the statue and the bird is that it is really not the object of veneration that provides inspiration; the object of veneration is just a “trigger” to inspire you to bring out what is already inside you. As humans, we just look for things as reminders of what we need to do or be, so we collect objects of veneration as reminders but the truth is that we are powerful life force ready to shine our true Light and experience this life to the fullest. So, the short cut is just to choose to shine and bring forth the true being we already are. The objects of veneration and inspiration are just optional ;)
Mahayana Buddhist Incense Offering
This article is the property of Mariela Siwarginti. No one may alter and/or reproduce it in any way with the express written permission of Mariela Siwarqinti.
Mariela Siwarqinti, Healing Facilitator