Lotus leaves are round...

Kayo dan-dan to shite kagami yori mo madoka nari
Lotus leaves are round, rounder than a mirror 

The lotus is often used to represent Buddhism, symbolizing the subtle and mysterious Dharma. Lotuses are offered on Buddhist altars, and the Lotus Sutra is considered the king of all sutras. When the Buddha taught the Buddhadharma, the lotus represented the center of his teaching, as it does the center of the Mahayana teachings today. In the Vimalakirti Sutra it is said, "just as the lotus, horn of mud, is not tainted thereby, so the lotus of the Buddha preserves the realization of voidness." The lotus is not found blooming in the pure air of a mountaintop, nor is it found in clear bodies of water. Instead, it blossoms in muddy and stagnant pools. Yet the flower itself, rising above the mud, is known for its purity and clarity. When it blooms, its fruit has already been produced. It does not finish flowering before producing its fruit. Likewise, in Buddhism we do not need to find a pure, clean location in order to discover enlightenment, nor do we first have to cut our desires away completely. Right here within the mud of our desires, we find the flower of enlightenment blooming. Right within our delusions, amid our impurities, we find our heart opening and our mind awakening. If we give rise to our Bodhisattva Vow, then our fruit of becoming Buddha is guaranteed. This is the deep truth of Mahayana Buddhism. The Buddha's round, huge, perfect Mind of no corners and no edges is expressed by the big round lotus leaves. Yet, although we say that the Buddha had a round great Mind, this does not mean that he was always smiling. He was very strict with his disciples. Even though each of us already has this deep life energy, it does not mean that we can do whatever we feel like. Rather, it means that we must live with compassion for all people, in a way that gives life to all others and our own freedom simultaneously. We must understand this subtle interaction of all things, or it is not the true Buddhadharma. 

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