Lotus Flower vs Water Lily

Lotus Flower

Getting good grades and preparing to go to good schools are all that I did in my youth. I have studied hard and supposedly learned and seen everything from the textbooks. As the years went by and my memories started to fade, I feel that I am back to a be a student again. But this time I want to make sure that I actually see it or touch it. It cannot be just the text or the drawings.

I wonder how these old textbooks were put together with the pictures (some of them have only drawings) that I later can not identify with what I see physically. Even with digital technology, we still rely a lot on post-processing not to mention the photos taken more than six decades ago.

Water lily is very common in water ponds, but I don’t recall that I ever saw an actual Lotus flower till I went to Lan Su Garden (Portland) in 2007. I took a picture with my point-and-shoot camera when I had no clue then what composition was about. Good or bad, that picture is always in my mind. At Northwest, Lotus Flower usually blooms in August. Ever since I started to use DSLR, I have been wanting to go back, and believe it or not, it took me seven years to finally go back there right in blooming season.

Asian culture is deeply influenced by Buddhism which calls the Lotus a symbol of purity and spontaneous generation and therefore, it represents ‘divine birth’. It is unique due to its pure and spotless character. Growing in the mud, the Lotus flower is untainted and unpolluted. That is the reason why the Buddha images we see often show him sitting on a full-bloomed lotus flower.

There is another Buddhism theory about Lotus being calm and peaceful. It grows in hot summer and heat is the symbol of worry. But it grows in water and water brings coolness and calmness.
Therefore, Lotus becomes a calming factor for people to stay cool in the summer heat, i.e. to be relieved of worry and gradually step into the state of ultimate peace and freedom. Undoubtedly, Lotus has its respectable place in Asian culture and philosophy.
According to my research, the lotus flower and water lily are different botanically.  Water lilies have pads that float on the surface of the water, more round-shaped. Lotus leaves are larger more folded upwards and grow above water. The Lotus flower is larger and has more multi-fold petals growing above the leaves while the water lily grows low almost attached to the leaves.The most distinctive difference between lotus and water lily is the female part (carpel-pistil) of the two. Lotus shows a barrel-shaped carpel that is embedded in an expanded receptacle and a ring-like stamen is at the base while the water lily has its pistil sitting at the center of the base and surrounded by its stamen.

Water Lily

Lotus Root is used in Asian food, either in a soup with chicken or Porto stock or as a cold dish with soy sauce, sesame oil, and so on spices. It has an acquired taste and texture. It is not my personal favorite, but it has high fiber and rich in vitamin C. Lotus seedpod has a distinctive look and is a popular item for flower arrangement.

When I traveled in Europe, I was not particularly interested in the churches and castles. Same in China, I have seen enough traditional gardens, and I don’t need to plow through the big list from the tourist guides.  However, when Chinese gardens are not readily available here, I am contrarily drawn to them.

I don’t necessarily enjoy authentic Asian elements, but something has not changed, I love Asian style of windows. Either it is framed by white stone, constructed by bricks, or wood-carved panels. I love to peek through the windows and expect the unexpected.

I particularly like the idea how Chinese used the shapes of flowers and fruits to architect a window. A few specific fruits and flowers are chosen to be the designs because they either symbolize richness, fertility, tranquility, or anything in that aspect. So here comes a cluster of grapes. It is a multitude of grapes, not just one. Inside the stone window, there is another modern framed window with a piece of petrified wood and an overgrown plant. It says, Aged.

It is exciting to be on a steamboat cutting through the white water and watching the wave churned. It is even more interesting for me to be on a sailboat and let the wind (nature) runs its course. It is meant to be exciting to ride a motorized fishing boat, but it is so much more peaceful and joyful to be on a bamboo raft or a wood boat and let it drift…
While drifting on the water is not something that can be done on a daily base or is randomly available, I think a boat image with long trailing greens and restful creek water will serve the purpose.

This is the calm and tranquility energy source that we busy people are in need, of but not always in pursuit of.It may have something to do with my cultural background or my personality, I can certainly better enjoy the quietness than the noise. Party will eventually come to an end, but internal peace and calmness remains as long as you want them to.

I have a hard time controlling myself not to paint or texture the gorgeous Lotus flower. However, as pure as it is, my respect for it overcomes my desire.

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