One day about a week ago I decided to leave my computer desk and let my eyes rest on something other than editing software on my computer screen. I went to a small botanical garden with my friend, and then she showed me an isolated buddhist temple not far from there – a gem hidden from tourists’ eyes. My break from editing photos resulted in even more photos, but that’s just the way we people with cameras roll. I still don’t know the name of this place.
One thing that stopped me in my clicking tracks was a beautiful pink lotus flower in a little pond in the middle of the temple grounds. I was bewitched by the beauty of the flower and I kept going back to it in my thoughts, and it is not my habit to reflect on appearance and meaning of plants. What I learned afterwards is that a lotus flower is representative of creation, enlightenment and purity, and the pink flower is a supreme lotus that symbolizes Buddha, his history and legends. And now a poetic and meaningful part: a lotus flower emerges slowly from dirty muddy ponds over a period of a few days, yet still remains clean and undeniably beautiful. It rises and blooms above the murk to achieve enlightenment, teaching us the highest goal of existence and a path to take. The mud being the world that we are coming from, we should choose the right path over the easy one and by our inner strength and values come out pure and beautiful.
I was raving about the lotus flower for about a day and then I forgot about it and came back to an ordinary and a little bit colorless course of my week. And then I read this book by Victor Frankl: “Man’s search for meaning” – a book that I heard about and always wanted to read and finally got it at the library. The author describes his experience in concentration camps in Auschwitz and Dachau and his psychiatric theory focused on the importance of a meaning that we attribute to our life. According to him, prisoners of death camps had better chance of survival if they were able to find a meaning in their suffering, a purpose of their life, whether the purpose was fulfilled in the past by loving a child or a spouse, or was still to be fulfilled in the future by writing a book, treating patients, etc. By attributing a meaning to our existence, we have the freedom to change at any instant and choose our behavior or at least our attitude towards things that happen to us. Human beings have the capacity to rise above biological, psychological or sociological conditions and grow beyond them. These prisoners who were liberated and able to restore their health, families, happiness and position in society after the horrors of camps, aren’t they like a lotus flower emerging from dirt?
Maybe the buddhist meaning of a pink flower I spotted by the temple and the words of a book are the case of synchronicity and the world telling me a secret I need to hear and decipher, maybe I miss some kind of magic inside me these days and I am looking for it outside, and maybe I suffer from apophenia – spontaneous perception of connections and meaningfulness of unrelated phenomena. Whatever it is, it reminded me to take a deep breath and marvel at things.