What does a lotus symbolize?

Maybe more than any other flower, the beautiful lotus holds deep spiritual meaning.

Lotus flowers grow in water and are probably best known for submerging themselves every night, then re-emerging every morning. But what's most remarkable is that despite growing in muddy, murky rivers, the lotus flowers emerge looking pristine and immaculate.

For this reason they are symbols of purity, perfection and rebirth. They even inspired the 11th century Confucian scholar Zhou Dunyi's praise: “I love the lotus because while growing in mud, it is unstained.” The lotus flower's ability to shed the muddy water from which it emerges is like the spirit's ability to shed the desires and trappings of human life.

And although the lotus' roots are anchored in the muddy river bottom, they send up long stalks to the surface of the water and sunlight, where the flowers can bloom. This is often interpreted as a symbol of spiritual enlightenment: We are born in the darkness of a self-centered, materialistic world but aspire to the enlightenment of knowledge, wisdom and our universe.