Growing in mud

"Lotus" from China Ming dynasty. Medium: Album leaf ink and color on silk

The Hindu name Pankaj has a wonderful meaning.

The word is a compound of paṅka ‘mud‘ and the suffix -ja ‘born from, growing in‘. The associated symbolism is of the lotus that is born in mud and blossoms after arising from mud.

from wikipedia

What a wonderful notion: growing in the mud.

We think of mud as something that is gross to step in. Your shoes get all muddy, you have to clean off the mud. Mud. Yuck!

This past weekend, I planted grass seed along the side of my house where the ground became compacted and dry. To get the ground to accept the seed, I wet the ground, tilled it, wet it some more, tilled it. Until I ended up with mud.

Mud mud everywhere! On my shoes, on my hands, on my shirt, on my shorts. My tiller tool became one big mud ball. Making hard dirt into mud was a lot of work, but it was also kinda fun.

With Pankaj, the mud is the birthplace of the lotus. Mud provides the fertile land for which a lotus to be born and blossom.

Is mud negative?

Some might see the mud as the negative environment from which we must conquer. That the lotus is going on a journey from the darkness of mud into the bright sunshine of light. Sounds pretty beautiful. But this metaphor casts mud as the villain.

Mud is healing

I see the mud as essential for growth. Especially after laboring to make hard stubborn ground into mud. We don’t want to be like the hardheaded ground. Nothing grows from the hard ground. Mud is soft, gentle and nurturing.

I suppose with anything in life, it all depends on your perspective. You can see the mud as nasty, dirty, and shameful. Or you can see mud as healing, regenerative, and full of life.

(Featured image via Open Access from Met Museum. “Lotus” from Ming Dynasty Album leaf; ink and color on silk.)

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