The Lotus: Finding Purity on Earth and Perfection in Heaven
Laura Hatton, Contributing Writer
Lotus flowers often grow out of murky, muddy water that looks anything but special. As a result, these uplifting lotuses of the earth have come to symbolize purity arising deep inside, despite a daily life that can sometimes feel confusing and filthy like that murky, muddy water. Different from this flower of the earth, the heavenly lotus grows within the worlds of Buddhas and is already a part of a splendid immortal realm.
In this duality, earthly and heavenly, the rich cultural symbolism of the lotus brings with it both a message of hope for those in the everyday world and of a divine manifestation evincing what is everlasting and perfect.
It is a common belief in traditional Chinese culture that deities appear to the faithful in visions and that these are actual existing scenes from a spiritual plane. Therefore a great many of the depictions of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas from the millennia of Chinese history may be accurate scenes of higher realms. The deities sit upon lotus thrones and rest upon smaller lotuses; they also sit in the “lotus position” of meditation and they perform the compassionate “lotus hand gesture.” The lotuses of the heavens pervade these sculptures and paintings to this day, portraying exquisitely beautiful settings for the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas who have immense virtue.
In Shen Yun dances, the flowers of heavenly realms, including lotuses, are often associated with feitian—flying heavenly fairies. There is an ancient legend that when a Buddha spreads teachings in the mortal world, the feitian scatter heavenly flowers. In the Shen Yun dance Lotus Fairies, fairies descend from the heavens to bestow joy and hope upon the earth. Audience members have been enchanted by the beauty of these flying fairies.
Shen Yun lead dancer Michelle Lian, who danced the lead in Lotus Fairies, shared her own experience when preparing to go onstage for the performance. She was still healing from an injury, but she did not want to let the audience down. With these selfless thoughts, she found that as soon as she stepped onstage in front of the audience and alongside her fellow performers, all pain disappeared and she was able to portray the heavenly lotus fairy.
Ms. Lian said, “It doesn’t matter if your body feels perfect or doesn’t feel right. It’s your mindset that really matters.” In her quest to bring art depicting higher truths to the audience, she realized, “If you want to be confident enough to show what’s inside your heart, your inner self has to be beautiful enough, true enough, and compassionate enough to give you the confidence to show it.” Thus, in the Shen Yun dance Lotus Fairies, the rich traditions of sacred lotus visions and heavenly fairies were brought to life onstage for audiences around the globe. Meanwhile, the lead dancer was able to be lifted above the ordinary world and its suffering in order to bring this transcendent beauty to her audience.
To honor the Shen Yun dance Lotus Fairies, jewelry designer Vivian Ni sought to capture a feeling of “tranquil beauty and transcendent spirit.” Ni said, “The vision for this collection was to capture the transcendence of this endearing flower as it emerges from the pond into the rays of the sun.”
May you too emerge into the rays of a glorious sun like a lotus flower growing strong: Let the Shen Yun Shop’s Lotus Fairies Jewelry make your look bloom, joining you into the rich tradition of the lotus!