I have only ever seen the petals of a lotus, but I have heard from others that while these pristine and beautiful flowers unfold when they are touched by the sun’s light, deeper down their roots are embedded in the darkness and thick mire of the water’s impure sediment.
This is the image that the Buddha uses to describe the growth of human beings: the unfolding of life from unfavourable conditions.
Shraddhapuspa’s remarkable story is a vivid example of this. While the roots of her past are buried in the rise of the Nazis in pre-war Vienna, her life has flowered into a bold and courageous embodiment of her ideals, where inspiration still flows freely at the age of eighty-five.
So too does Jayaka emerge from nightmarish conditions – this time solitary confinement. Touched by moments of kindness and love, the seeds of his life begin to take root, and so growth begins.
But even when conditions are seemingly advantageous, life is going smoothly and we are caught in the search for eternal pleasure – like the alter ego of a film-maker described by Nico Mensinga – we know that something urges us to grow and to face the honest difficulty of our life.
Finally, Subhadramati’s diary of her week leads us not towards a lotus, but a rose, pointing her in the direction of a world beyond appearances.
When they are touched by the Dharma in these ways, human lives open out beyond their limitations.
Indeed, it is the Dharma that activates the profound mystery of life within the human mind. And it is the Buddha who represents to us the complete transformation of consciousness so that it emerges into the world, just as the petals of the lotus break the surface of the water, shattering the light. Perhaps it is something of this emergence that is on Jnanavaca’s mind as he creates his evocative drawings?
I do hope that these articles, and everything that happens at the London Buddhist Centre (which is listed in the programme from page 15), contribute to the growth and unfolding of your life.