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posted Jul 12, 2012, 5:23 PM by   [ updated Feb 1, 2013, 7:28 AM by Tony Le ]
Thanh Tri Cao aka Most Venerable Thich Quang Thanh
The lotus, a special kind of flower – is there a hidden legend relating to it? With its remarkable characteristics, the lotus is considered a flower of nobility. Its roots are buried in the mud, but the leaves and flowers standing high above the water are intact in their color and fragrance, not soiled by water or mud. The language of lotus is a mysterious, wonderful language! In religious art traditions, the lotus is used as a symbol for the enlightened. The lotus contains in itself a meaning of cause and effect – inside the multiple layers of lotus petals is a central pod which contains many lotus seeds. The cause (seed) is already within the effect (flower). At night, the lotus embalms the air with a pure and sweet fragrance.

The flowers and leaves appear delicate but are quite strong in the blowing wind. The lotus has a silky, noble beauty, shimmering in the hot summer sunshine. It is only in midsummer that lotus is in full bloom, when the weather is hot and humid and the sunlight is bright . Therefore, photographers who want to make a collection of lotus pictures should be aware of the good timing, when the background and light are in harmony with the feeling of the artist. The photographer who looks for satisfactory lotus pictures should be quite sensitive. A good background is not good enough; he should wait for a time when the lotus flowers and leaves are glittering in the light, making up a natural structural harmony. A natural structural harmony always attracts our senses and emotions, provoking our creative force. The lotus is also a precious flower that has been made into art works to decorate important events, for people from all paths of life. In painting, the lotus is also a frequent subject. There are many paintings of the lotus with Zen elements which are quite stimulating. The artist can successfully express the beauty of the lotus, whether it is in colors or black and white. The lotus is also subject for many sculptured works.

In Vietnam or China, dry lotus petals are mixed with tea for fragrance and the bitter embryos within the lotus seeds are made into herbal medicines for sleeplessness or hypertensions. Almost all parts of the lotus are edible : the roots, stems, leaves, and seeds. The lotus seeds are boiled and cooked into a sweet soup, a popular delicacy (called chè in Vietnamese), or made into lotus nut paste for pastries.

For all of its special characteristics, the lotus is always a source of inspiration for my photography. I enjoy the patience of waiting for a good time, when all elements for an artful photograph are assembled. The lotus, with its pure beauty and silent language, deserves to be the subject of many art traditions. There are many kinds of lotus, with different colors, but the fragrance is always the same. I wonder if there is any country has chosen the lotus as their national emblem?

At night, under a misty sky, when the poet immerses himself in the deep silence, he will feel a connection with the universe, and the sight of the lotus is an inspiration for creation.

Is there any consciousness that does not have hope?
Is there any beauty that will not fade away?
Is there any passing time that leaves no memory?

In the midst of this impermanent world, the enlightened masters have chosen the lotus as a spiritual symbol.

For thousands of years before and after, the enlightened view of the wise is always fresh with compassion and courage. The characteristics of the lotus in every level, from the bud, to blossom and full flowering, are wonderfully lively! I choose the lotus in my photographic collection as a way to teach the meaning of Zen, whenever there is a chance, and of course I would like to share it to viewers from all over the world. Let us purify our mind and stand up for happiness from the suffering world, like the noble lotus rising up high from the muddy water.

For me, the lotus, with its silent language, its colors and fragrance, is always admired in my soul, with all the purity of mind.