The [Pink] Lotus Flower, Nelumbo nucifera, also known as the “sacred lotus” or the “Indian lotus,” is often confused with true water lilies of the genus Nymphaea, in particular N. caerulea, the “blue lotus.” However, the lotus flower has historical, cultural and spiritual significance around the world.
The lotus flower in Buddhism has special significance and is considered a sacred flower, representing the path to spiritual awakening and enlightenment. In Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism, the lotus flower represents the workings of karma in our lives.
The title of the Lotus Sutra, considered the Buddha’s highest teaching, translated into Japanese is a Nichiren Buddhist’s daily chant, NAM MYOHO RENGE KYO. The English translation of Nam Myoho Renge Kyo is “Devotion to the Mystic Law of Cause and Effect through Sound and Vibration.”
Renge means “lotus flower.” Because the lotus flower produces both flowers and seeds at the same time (no other plant does this), it illustrates the principle of the “simultaneity of cause and effect.” In this case, “cause” refers to the efforts or practice one carries out with the aim of becoming a Buddha, and “effect,” to the actual attainment of Buddhahood. The simultaneity of cause and effect means that the very moment we chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo with the intention of improving our lives, the life condition of Buddhahood, imbued with courage, compassion and wisdom, emerges within us and guides our actions. We don’t have to wait until after death to attain enlightenment or true happiness.
This profound teaching represents a significant difference between other forms of Buddhism and other non-Buddhist teachings which typically state that a practitioner can only attain enlightenment in a future lifetime, or that they may reach heaven after death. Neither of which helps us in the present life.