Eight is a special number in Buddhism, most notably used to refer to the Eightfold Path. This lotus flower has eight petals on both the inside and outside, and 64 petals (eight x eight) in the middle. Different colors of lotus blossoms have their own meanings, and a purple lotus is symbolic of spirituality and mysticism. Purple lotus flowers are not as commonly depicted as other colors like pink and white, and are traditionally associated with esoteric Buddhism. This association of purple and spirituality is also common in color theory, because it is a combination of both soothing (blue) and stimulating (red), and promotes inner reflection. It also happens to be my favorite color.
Would you like to see other lotus colors & designs?
Meditation by a waterfall is not only a peaceful and picturesque way to meditate, but the sound of the water itself is one traditional way to enter Samādhi. It is a powerful way to still the mind. The most renown figure to enter Samādhi through this method, and therein gain the ability to “hear the cries of the world,” is Guanyin (观音). The Śūraṅgama Sūtra describes how she disassociates herself from the sense of hearing, and thus gains mastery over it.
“I began with a practice based on the enlightenment nature of hearing. First I redirected my hearing inward in order to enter the current of the sages. Then external sounds disappeared. With the direction of my hearing reversed and with sounds stilled, both sounds and silence cease to arise . . . . Coming into being and ceasing to be themselves ceased to be. Then the ultimate stillness was revealed . . . . All of a sudden I transcended the worlds of ordinary beings, and I also transcended the worlds of beings who have transcended the ordinary worlds. Everything in the ten directions was fully illuminated, and . . . . I was then able to go to all lands and appear in thirty-two forms that respond to what beings require.”
Many other Buddhists have followed this example throughout the centuries, particularly within Chan Buddhism / Zen Buddhism (禅). This video clip shows one example at Dharma Drum Mountain (法鼓山), a monastery in Taiwan, and their connection to the nearby streams. Look for a mention of Guanyin / Avalokiteśvara around 13 minutes in:
On a peaceful day in Wuhan, China, the still waters of a pond perfectly reflect the many arches of a bridge. In the shallow parts of the pond there are so many lotus plants growing that the lotus leaves completely cover the water. A few pink lotus blossoms rise up proud and strong, transcending the pond and the canopy of leaves, but not the scene itself. The same still waters that allow for such a nice reflection are also what allows the thin stem of the lotus to grow straight up, unhindered by currents.
Are the conditions for inner reflections the same as that which we need to fully bloom?
Here are a few of my other favorite reflection photos from previous entries – click to see a larger view and read more:
Candlescape Reflections by Seas Reflecting Starlight
A vast landscape in miniature, this red candle has towering piles of brightly colored wax surrounding a still pool of molten wax with a very clear reflection. This photograph was taken at Daci Buddhist Monastery (大慈寺) in Chengdu, China, where eminent monk Xuanzang (玄奘, also known as Tripitaka) of the Tang Dynasty (618 – 907) was initiated.
The reflection in the peaceful pool in the middle of the candle mirrors one common type of use of candles in monasteries and temples: meditation and inner reflection. Just as the candle literally reflects the monastery’s sleepy little retreat away from the hustle of the streets of Chengdu, it can also reflect a search for that same kind of peace within the eye of the beholder.
I also created a tiled version of this photo,which reflects this week’s theme of reflection, in that each candle is a reflection of the others:
Candlescape Reflections tiles by Seas Reflecting Starlight
There are multiple ways to create such tiled effects using photo editing programs like GIMP.
To prepare the image:
Make sure that the image content is close to the center, and that there aren’t any important details around the outer rim of the image. Details not in the center may be lost or obscured.
Method 1 (used above): Using GIMP, go to Filters > Map > Make Seamless
Method 2 (does not work well for all images): Using GIMP, go to Filters > Blur > Tileable Blur – set the blur radius to something that is relatively large in comparison to the size of your image for the most seamless results.
After using either method, there are multiples ways to make copies of the image in a tiled pattern:/li>
Option 1: Using GIMP, go to Filters > Map > Tile – make sure the height and width are linked, set the units to “%”, and input multiples of 100 for best results
Option 2: Using GIMP, go to Filters > Map > Small Tiles – this will shrink the size of your tiles to fit within the boundaries of the current image, but includes the ability to flip alternating tiles