“No mud, no lotus” – Thict Nhat Hanh
At face value, the lotus flower grows up from the mud, emerging from the murk to bloom. In life’s terms, the work and toil and suffering that we put in are what yield the return, the reward. Certainly there are things that come easy, and, oh, how wonderful that is, but the vast majority of achievements and victories involve first sitting in the mud. And I mean really sitting there, settling in, getting just covered in it.
This sentiment has been stuck in my mind lately. There is so much truth in it. We get so bogged down by the hard, by the suffering that we are going though in our day to day life, that it is sometimes hard to see the potential beauty that we are reaching for. Or the inverse, we see the end result that we want, but we struggle to find the motivation or to take responsibility for the work that we need to do to reach that goal.
I have been making it a conscious practice to let this sentiment play as a mantra in my mind. When I am struggling to take the necessary steps to complete a task- no mud, no lotus. When I am feeling frustrated at a situation with my children or noticing how much work consistency is- no mud, no lotus. When I am avoiding an uncomfortable situation or conversation- no mud, no lotus. When it is difficult to find the motivation to unroll my mat and practice- no mud, no lotus. I have some control over each of these things and stepping back to remind myself of that control, that with my effort and hard work I am moving closer to a goal, it gives me a push to make that forward motion.
This extends beyond a motivator, though. There are many aspects of life that we don’t have nearly as much control over. When facing hard times, coping with a loss, reeling from bad news or recovering from a failure- no mud, no lotus. The sentiment still rings true. Control or no control, when we are sitting in the mud and the muck, we can choose to acknowledge that that mud allows the opportunity for growth. The hard fosters the beauty and the bliss. No mud, no lotus.
For further study, you can purchase Thict Nhat Hanh’s beautiful book here: http://amzn.to/1Ve25Wj
An edited version of this post was published by the good people at Elephant Journal. Here’s the link: http://www.elephantjournal.com/2016/03/repeat-after-me-no-mud-no-lotus/