Without mud, there can be no lilies.

“Everyone knows we need to have mud for lotuses to grow. The mud doesn’t smell so good, but the lotus flower smells very good. If you don’t have mud, the lotus won’t manifest. You can’t grow lotus flowers on marble. Without mud, there can be no lotus.” ― Thich Nhat HanhNo Mud, No Lotus: The Art of Transforming Suffering

She arose in the morning, To find a sweet apple for her beloved In the garden’s new light

Waling along the garden path She smelled love in the roses Heard the birds sing delight

Near the lily pond, she saw an apple tree with bright red apples,

She climbed for the apple  Dangling on a branch over the water Stretching, reaching, higher and higher And then, just as she plucked the apple The branch cracked

She fell      Down        Down          Down        Into the water           Into the mud Splashing, thrashing and floundering Sinking deeper into the mud The mud covered her eyes Blackened her dress She felt dirty, like no one would want to be near the stench Exhausted from her thrashing    She paused       Looked around She saw The White Lotus    Rising toward the sun      Calmly resting on floating leaves        Roots anchored deep in the mud

And she laughed   To hear the Lotus sing:

“No mud, no Lotus” “No compost, no flowers” “No darkness, no light” “No low, no high” “Sometimes we fall     when we reach beyond our grasp”

Mud feeds the lotus Allows growth toward the light Heartache feeds compassion Sadness becomes delight

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Billions of years ago, Life faced disaster The newly emerged photosynthesis created toxic waste: oxygen Oxygen was deadly to life unprepared Oxygen threatened all life Until, Generous genes shared their wisdom A new way created to turn Oxygen from toxin to fuel

Challenges become stepping stones Problems become puzzles Obstacles become opportunities    Toxins become fuels     Lemons become lemonade      Mud becomes the Lotus       Sadness becomes awareness Awareness becomes joy

We have not fallen from grace.   We are not yet fully risen toward grace.

We began in the garden.  Sometimes, when reaching for gifts for our loved ones, we fall. In following our aspirations, we lose our bearing.  Sometimes in our striving, we fall and land in the mud.  We can resent the mud, or embrace it’s power:  it feeds trees, lotus blossoms and the beauty of our growing souls.

Falling from grace is an illusion.  The reality is that we are graced every moment with love and light. Occasionally, setbacks distract us from being aware of the awesome gift of life.  Falling into the water baptizes us into the mystery of life.  Covered with mud represents the universal experience of loss and death, two essential ingredients for life.   Death and decay are not only inevitable, but they are necessary for new life that grows ever more beautifully toward the sun.


“Without suffering, there’s no happiness. So we shouldn’t discriminate against the mud. We have to learn how to embrace and cradle our own suffering and the suffering of the world, with a lot of tenderness.” ~ Thich Nhat HanhNo Mud, No Lotus: The Art of Transforming Suffering