ओं मणिपद्मे हूं Om Mani Padme Hum (‘the gem of truth lies in the lotus’).
The lotus is an extraordinary plant; beautiful and mysterious. Seeds of this plant were still viable and successfully germinated, after lying dormant for over a thousand years (1,288 ± 271-yr-old) in an ancient lake bed at Pulantien, in Liaoning Province, China (1). Perhaps there are even seeds lying in some pond which were flowering when the Buddha walked the earth? I would like to think so. Or when Avalokitesvara (Lokesvara) of the Lotus Sutra existed. Avalokitesvara was the Buddha (Bodhisattva) of compassion, desperately striving to reach out – with his thousand arms – to all those unhappy beings in need of aid. I think we need him more than ever in our modern world.
The flowers, seeds, young leaves and rhizomes of the lotus plant are all edible, although I am ashamed to say that I have never tried them. Lotus flower buds are sold in large quantities in Thailand, as for example in Bangkok’s flower market: Pak Khlong Talad.
Another amazing property of this plant is its self-cleaning leaf surface. The water-repellent, microscopic structure of the leaf surface is such that any contaminating particles on the leaves are removed completely by water droplets that roll off the surfaces (2). This “Lotus-Effect” – a very high water repellent effect or superhydrophobicity – ensures that the plant remains clean and pure (2).
What other unknown properties does the plant possess?
- Shen-Miller, J., et al. “Exceptional seed longevity and robust growth: ancient sacred lotus from China.” American Journal of Botany (1995): 1367-1380.
- “Purity of the sacred lotus, or escape from contamination in biological surfaces.” Planta 202.1 (1997): 1-8.