Photo of a Lotus Garden in Cambodia (From TravelPod)
They harvest these lotus flowers for both their beauty as well as for food. The center of the lotus has little round balls that taste sort of like boiled peanuts.
The color of the lotus has an important bearing on the symbology associated with it:
White Lotus(Skt. pundarika; Tib.pad ma dkar po): This represents the state of spiritual perfection and total mental purity (bodhi). It is associated with the White Tara and proclaims her perfect nature, a quality which is reinforced by the color of her body.
Pink Lotus (Skt. padma; Tib. pad ma dmar po): This the supreme lotus, generally reserved for the highest deity. Thus naturally it is associated with the Great Buddha himself.
Red Lotus (Skt. kamala; Tib: pad ma chu skyes): This signifies the original nature and purity of the heart(hrdya). It is the lotus of love, compassion, passion and all other qualities of the heart. It is the flower of Avalokiteshvara, the bodhisattva of compassion.
Blue Lotus (Skt. utpala; Tib. ut pa la): This is a symbol of the victory of the spirit over the senses, and signifies the wisdom of knowledge. Not surprisingly, it is the preferred flower of Manjushri, the bodhisattva of wisdom.
the roots of a lotus are in the mud, the stem grows up through the water, and the heavily scented flower lies pristinely above the water, basking in the sunlight. This pattern of growth signifies the progress of the soul from the primeval mud of materialism, through the waters of experience, and into the bright sunshine of enlightenment.
According to the Lalitavistara, “the spirit of the best of men is spotless, like the lotus in the muddy water which does not adhere to it.”
According to another scholar, “in esoteric Buddhism, the heart of the beings is like an unopened lotus: when the virtues of the Buddha develop therein, the lotus blossoms; that is why the Buddha sits on a lotus bloom.”
Lotus ~ “From within the lotus flower grows, up through the mud and the muck bypassing all that threatens to taint its emerging beauty and glory. Then it springs forth without spot or stain opening to the world around it to become a new light unto all that lay their eye upon it. This is the lotus flower and it comes from within you, it is the flower of the Buddha, your inner Buddha.”–Venerable Retsuzen Shikata 2011