The lotus is an ancient and powerful symbol. The close connection between spiritual growth and creativity makes it a potent symbol for artists. But the metaphors that give it symbolic depth are also relevant for contemporary leadership challenges.
I have a personal connection with the lotus flower through creativity. Since my first dream as a child, when metaphorically I “hit the moon with a stick”, I have had a strong creative energy that can be exhilarating but also disturbing.
I’ve felt a strong need to root the creativity in a soil of practicality, and the lotus symbol reflects that idea, that even a flower that floats magically on the surface of a pond or lake has to have roots in the soil.
During the Covid-19 lockdown, I have tried to make a transition from my role as an energy journalist and analyst to a way of life that is more closely linked to my creative goals. These mainly focus on poetry and pottery — no money in either of those, so I have to be realistic and plan carefully!
My creative energies also have a tendency to flow in many and varied directions – sometimes I feel like a kaleidoscope that keeps turning, shifting the scene continually but never fixing on any single channel.
This is a trait that used to irritate me but less so recently, as I feel increasingly that there is a strong underlying purpose behind all this scattered energy. The lotus is a metaphor that under the diversity of its petals is a single plant tied to the earth by its roots.
I find this grounding, and it helps me find ways to build bridges between my practical and creative sides.
Another way of looking at this is that the lotus reflects both diversity and unity.
The lotus grows in water, but it has its roots deep in the mud at the bottom of the pond. It is not like a leaf that bobs about on top of the water; it draws its sustenance and meaning from its environment. This gives it a quality of rootedness, while also being linked with the flowing life-giving qualities of nature.
It reminds me that having a solid foundation and dealing with practical needs are just as important as the creative flare and inspiration.
For these reasons, the lotus has become one of my favourite symbols for use in meditation. When I meditate, I close my eyes and try to bring the image of the lotus into sharp focus, as a single whole but also as a multi-foliate being.
I explore the beauty of its individual petals, but also reflect on how these are at the same time a single being, not parts that can be sub-divided but an expression of the whole.
The lotus often features in mandalas, and the exact number of petals often has rich mythical significance; but for myself, the allegorical associations of the number is less important than the metaphor of one and many, many and one.
When I meditate on the lotus, I see a potentiality within myself; that the multitude of different ideas and threads of my creativity may be the reflection of an underlying, emergent direction, not just an unruly tangle of disparate shoots that don’t bear fruit!
Roberto Assagioli mentions creativity repeatedly in his books “Psychosynthesis” and “The Act of Will”.
I re-read The Act of Will during the Covid-19 lockdown to focus myself on the next stage of my journey.
Assagioli makes the point again and again that the act of Will requires not just an inspirational burst of energy but hard work and planning to bring an idea from a nascent state to its full fruition. This is another way that I feel the lotus is relevant to psychosynthesis.
By Peter Stewart