No Mud, No Lotus
Hey friend. Are you happy on this beautiful Monday? If you’re not happy, are you suffering? Have you ever heard the phrase “No Mud, No Lotus”?
Everyone wants to be happy—but a lot of time we think happiness means no suffering at all.
But in fact, happiness itself cannot exist without suffering.
When we focus exclusively on trying to be happy, we become averse to suffering, thinking it gets in the way.
But really, as Thich Nhat Hanh says, “thinking we should be able to have a life without suffering is as deluded as thinking we should be able to have a left side without a right side.”
Happiness and suffering are not two separate things, but rather, two sides of the same coin.
What goes up, must come down. And what goes down will come up.
This is the truth of impermanence and transience—all things are changing all the time; nothing remains.
The lotus flower has become a symbol in many different cultures, representing purity, enlightenment, hope and strength—but many don’t realize why this flower became the powerful symbol it has.
A lotus flower actually starts to grow in dirty, muddy water—it smells awful and of course mud is particularly unattractive.
But in fact, the lotus cannot grow without the mud; its roots latch into the mud, and every night it submerges into the river and then re-blooms the next morning.
This beautiful flower could not manifest without the mud.
No mud, no lotus.
And so, it’s clear how this flower has come to be such an influential symbol, as it represents the truth of the human experience—birth, death, transience, beauty, and suffering—all in one.
Life is precious and beautiful, but it is not so because of our happiness.
It is because of our all-encompassing human experience, which includes happiness and suffering.
So, when suffering inevitably comes along, notice if there’s any resistance or aversion. Be curious about it, and then perhaps consider—is the happiness merely on the other side of this suffering?
The happiness could not exist otherwise.
Thanks to Thich Nhat Hanh for the inspiration of this email—his book “No Mud, No Lotus” has provided me much support throughout this challenging year. I, like many of you, have endured much suffering in 2020. But I am grateful for his wisdom, understanding that the more fully I can be present with the suffering, the more I can enjoy the happiness.
Reply to this email and let me know—can you see both the mud and the lotus that exist in your life right now?
Sending light and love your way,