Obsession, Desire, Romance And Their Meaning In Buddhism

smiling monk contemplates desireLord Buddha once said:

“Grasping at things can only yield one of two results: Either the thing you are grasping at disappears, or you yourself disappear. It is only a matter of which occurs first”

This is certainly something that I would consider well worth pondering, especially now when we are living in a consumer culture that seems obsessed with a burning desire for more and more possessions and achievements. Not to mention our sex obsessed society’s seemingly unquenchable desire for more and more empty, vapid sexual conquests.

But what does this quote really mean? It’s something that scholars and philosophers have been thinking about for centuries now… So I thought – why not share my thoughts on the meaning of this clearly very meaningful quote.

Obviously, the idea is that obsessing over things, people etc… is not a good idea, as it will inevitably lead to great suffering. When we cling to things in an anxious way this is setting us up for disaster. Let’s look at clinging in the context of a romantic relationship. When a man and a woman first meet, they may feel a completely natural sexual desire for each other. As a result of these natural, and healthy feelings they may choose to start spending time together, dating and so forth, no problem there.

The problem occurs when one of the parties in the relationship becomes overly obsessed with the other, to the point where they are spending time anxiously worrying about the possibility that they may “lose” this relationship that they have started. Interestingly enough there is even a training program for men that teaches guys how to get women to obsess over them, so that they can attract the women and keep them around. Pretty shocking stuff I know. If you are interested you can read more about it in this Obsession Formula review that has been written about it.

Why is this type of obsession so unhealthy? A couple of reasons… First, there is the fact that you can push away the person who you are obsessing over. I think that we are probably all pretty familiar with the concept that “clingy” behavior is unattractive in the context of romantic relationships, or any social or business relationship for that matter.

So when the Lord Buddha says “the thing you are grasping at disappears” I think that this is what he is talking about – the fact that your obsessive way of being pushes the object of your obsession out of your life.

But what does the Lord Buddha mean when he says “…or you yourself disappear.” Basically, what I think that he means here is that by obsessing over something, you can lose yourself. You may have experienced something like this when you were younger. Perhaps you found a new romantic partner who became the focus of your entire live. Maybe it felt like the sun rose and set over her or him. You stopped hanging out with your other friends, and stopped enjoying your hobbies and the other parts of your life that gave your life meaning. Can you see what I am getting at here? Getting obsessed with a lover, a job, a goal, or anything else is really no way to go through life.

Sure, it’s fun to get “excited” about things in your life. Focusing our attention on the things and people in our lives that we enjoy most makes a lot of sense, but we need to be mindful that this “excited focus” doesn’t become an obsession. We can do that by periodically taking a step back, going into our heart caves, and getting a little bit of healthy, detached perspective.

The Symbolic Meanings Associated With The Lotus Blossom

A spiritual flower, to say the least...

A spiritual flower, to say the least…

Out of all the beautiful flowers that cover the earth there is probably no bloom imbued with more symbolic meaning than our dear friend the lotus. Indeed, when it comes to symbolically meaningful objects the lotus is right up there with the four leaf clover, [Pandora’s box, or even the Holy Cross.

I’ve been learning about Lotuses for many years now I was recently delighted to discover that the lotus actually has several different symbolic meanings depending on it’s color (according to ancient Buddhist tradition.) According to the Buddanet website “Lotuses are symbols of purity and ‘spontaneous’ generation and hence symbolize divine birth.” And while this is probably the best known symbolic meaning that is attached to the lotus there are several other meaning that I will outline briefly in the next paragraph.

The white lotus, which is the most common variety symbolizes “Bodhi” which is described as a state of absolute spiritual perfection. Furthermore, the white Lotus’ 8 glorious petals represent the 8 fold path, which is apparently another important aspect of the religious practice of Buddhism.

The pink lotus (my personal fave) is known as the Buddha’s lotus or the “supreme lotus” among practitioners of Buddhism.

Working towards the darker side of the color spectrum we get to the vibrant red lotus, which logically corresponds heart and is a symbol of love, passion, and compassion.

Next we get to the rare and mysterious purple lotus. I know I said that the pink ones are my favorites, but really its a close call between pink and purple. Its a tough call! I had a bit of a hard time finding much good information on the meaning of the purple lotus, but evidently it is only represented symbolically among lesser known esoteric Buddhist sects.

Rounding out our selection of colorful lotuses we have the glorious blue lotus – a symbol of knowledge and wisdom.

While I enjoy learning all about these traditional symbolic meanings associated with lotuses, and honoring the past, I think that it can also be a good idea to assign your own meanings that are personal and meaningful to you.

Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About The Lotus Flower


Behold the humble lotus…

The Lotus, Indian Lotus, or in scientific terms, Nelumbo nucifera, is a kind of aquatic flower native to Asia and Queensland, Australia.

Lotuses thrive in water and are considered “perennial” plants because they live for two years or more. They come in a variety of colors with pink, red, and white being the most popular and most commonly seen varieties all around the world.

Is It Possible To Grow A Lotus Flower In Your Own Home?

As mentioned. the lotus is an aquatic flower. In its natural habitat, a lotus seed will go to the bottom of the body of water and sprout from underneath. Raising lotuses within the comforts of your home can be tricky but can be done.

When you get your lotus seed, you must first scar it to ensure healthy growth. Find a medium to large flower pot, fill it up with water and allow your seed to swell up during its first soak. It is important to note that instead of watering your seed everyday, you must change its water. When the first sprout has started to emerge and grow slightly, you must transfer your seed into a new pot. Fill the new pot with dense soil. At this stage, it is crucial to anchor your seed to ensure that it does not accidentally float to the surface. Plant the seed into the surface of the soil, making sure that it covered enough so that it doesn’t float, but also being mindful that it is not stifled. Gently place your flower pot in shallow water and allow your flower to grow on its own.

India’s National Flower

As India’s national flower, the lotus lends not only its beauty, but its significance in Indian culture as well. It makes a remarkable and consistent appearance in Hinduism as a symbol of sexual purity and overcoming the attachment for humanly desires. Hindu gods and goddesses in Hindu artworks are seldom depicted with lotuses surrounding them.

The Lotus in Popular Culture

Because it symbolizes detachment, the lotus has expanded to many facets of art. Adorning your home pond with lotuses or even your home with lotus artworks can promote an ambiance of tranquility and stillness that creates a calm and serene environment.

Many people also choose have the famous flower inked on their skin. Apart from its apparent beauty and graceful features, many say that having it permanently inked on their skin serves as reminders of calmness, enlightenment, and letting go.

Is The Lotus Edible?

It turns out that lotus flowers, seeds, root and young leaves are all edible (however I suggest consulting a Dr. first just to be safe. We are not responsible for anything that amy happen if you eat a lotus!).

In the US lotuses have yet to catch on as a food source, but some trendy restaurants are incorporating  lotuses into their menus. I recently dined at an upscale lounge where I was served a seafood dish that was garnished with fried lotus root and it was quite tasty! It reminded me of potato chips.

In Asia however lotuses are widely used in everything from salads to soups and they are even used in traditional Asian herbal medicine.