No Mud, No Lotus is a common phrase in Buddhist philosophy. It’s one of my favorite sayings. Having sayings or mantras that are meaningful to you can help you thrive in difficult situations. I put all my favorite ones on my cycling kit this year, and also on these arm warmers if you’re interested.
Lotus flowers bloom in the muckiest of mud. Yes! Their roots are latched into stinky, dark, squishy mud. Most of us don’t like mud, metaphorically speaking. It’s thick, dark, and it feels like it is sucking us down. This is the case with some seasons, setbacks, and challenges in our lives. It can feel dark and hopeless, and our suffering can seem all-consuming.
The lotus flower is a beacon of hope and perspective. No Mud, No Lotus is a phrase that embodies the fact that even the hardest of times can yield beautiful lessons, results, and meaning. Blooming in spite of the mud is where resilience comes from. When we get stressed out, we get stuck in the mud and loose our perspective.
No one likes pain, situations out of our control, and really hard truths we have to face in life. This isn’t about pretending that suffering doesn’t exist. Oftentimes we try to alleviate our suffering with consumption, but that is only a temporary bandaid.
But… what we resist persists.
Acknowledging that suffering is part of the life experience and that it isn’t permanent is the first step to having beauty bloom out of suffering. There are some situations where reframing and positive thinking gets you through, but other situations are about sitting in the mud and waiting it out without judgement, knowing that your bloom is forming.
Some of the biggest times of growth in our life come from big challenges or difficult situations. No mud no lotus doesn’t fix everything and not every bad thing that happens to us yields a lotus flower, but remembering that there is opportunity in challenges can help us make the most of it. Enjoy the scenery on your detours!
We need grit and challenges to create change (just not too much of it). Pain has a purpose. Grief has a purpose. Meeting our vulnerability with self-compassion, optimism, acceptance, and growths makes us stronger and more beautiful in the end!
If you’re interested, Thich Nhat Hahn wrote a book titled No Mud, No Lotus if you’re looking for an interesting read.