Water lilies, "suiren," or sleeping lotus (sui in Kanji means sleep; ren is lotus) grow out of muddy pond waters to reveal large pink and white blossoms that survive for only a few days. The ephemeral flowers need daylight -- they open up at dawn, but are ready to "fall asleep" by mid-afternoon.
In Buddhism, the lotus is rich in symbolism, representing purity of the body, mind and spirit, its flowers float above the muddy waters of attachment and desire.
In China, India and Japan, Buddhist deities are often depicted as seated on a lotus flower.
According to a legend, Gautama Buddha was born with the ability to walk, and everywhere he stepped, lotus flowers bloomed.
With its delicate blossoms springing from hardy, durable roots, the lotus suggests reincarnation.
The muddy pond in which the lotus grows symbolizes the mundane world. The buds, which rise above the water surface and spread their petals on thick, bowl-shaped leaves, represent wisdom and rebirth.
In the words of Gautama Buddha "Water surrounds the lotus flower, but it does not wet its petals. As a lotus flower is born in water, grows in water and rises out of water to stand above it unsoiled, so I, born in the world, raised in the world, having overcome the world, live unsoiled by the world."
The elegant flower is also a proof of the life-supporting, nourishing power of water, out of which all elements of the universe arise and back into which they must return.