The lotus, rooted in the rich soil of earth, is driven to push upwards through often murky waters into the open air, rise higher, and unfold its petals to receive and reflect the light of the sun. Because of this, it has been reverenced the world over, especially by aspirants who seek to rise above worldly illusion to enlightenment where they are able to benefit others. Its likeness has been painted and carved on objects of every description in Asia, as well as in Egypt, Greece, Rome, and in America where archaeologists have noted lotus blossoms decorating Incan and Mayan artifacts.
Wherever found, this flower suggests ideas that are profound and uplifting. It represents the duality of spirit and matter, fire and water, sun and moon, which creates the experiences that awaken, purify, and ennoble human souls. It represents also the divine potential within each living being. Om mani padme hum, says the Tibetan Buddhist: "Om the jewel in the lotus" — I am the power which shall transcend and, transmuting the base elements within me, "blossom in the Field of the Sun," as the Egyptian initiant, Ani, exclaimed in exaltation.
Like the lotus, HPB's teachings and example not only illumine the world of thought but fill men's hearts with courage and clear vision. Her writings give us the means to transmute our lives and, doing this, to inspire and uplift other people.
The Lotus, or Padma, is, moreover, a very ancient and favourite simile for the Kosmos itself, and also for man. The popular reasons given are, firstly, that the Lotus-seed contains within itself a perfect miniature of the future plant, which typifies the fact that the spiritual prototypes of all things exist in the immaterial world before those things become materialized on Earth. Secondly, . . . The root of the Lotus sunk in the mud represents material life, the stalk passing up through the water typifies existence in the astral world, and the flower floating on the water and opening to the sky is emblematical of spiritual being. — The Secret Doctrine 1:57-8
(From Sunrise magazine, April/May 1991; copyright © 1991 Theosophical University Press)