Wednesday, May 08, 2013

East-West, Left-Right, Lotus-Rose

Have you ever wondered why the world - or rather its peoples - seem more divided on an east/west basis than north/south? In philosophy, religion, right/left politics, left brain/right brain for instance. Sun rises in the east and sets in the west - the axis of our home planet, is that somehow involved? Our eyes, ears, limbs, internal organs are set in a left/right east/west arrangement too. I notice that today, 8th May, is White Lotus Day, a celebration day of the Theosophists. Symbolism of the lotus is interesting, one of several strands of Eastern philosophy and an example of the east/west cultural divide.

From Wikipedia:
White Lotus Day is a celebration that encourages meditation about the metaphor of the lotus. The lotus is born under the mud, growing through the water to achieve the surface, and therefore the air and the light of sun. This growth is identified with man's life, born in earth but desiring the elevation to the air; representing his middle stage between animals and the ultimate reality. The seeds of lotus contain (even before they germinate) perfectly formed leaves, a miniature shape of what they would become. This flower is often present in eastern religions.....

In Buddhism the lotus is seen as a sign of purity, it is associated with beauty in Hinduism, and with the Sun in Egyptology. (More HERE)

Lotus symbolism based in Eastern philosophy and religion was used by an American poet, Vachel Lindsay in The Wedding of the Lotus and the Rose written to mark the opening of the Panama Canal in 1914. For poet Lindsay this promised the union of the best of western and eastern cultures and philosophies. (Click on poem to enlarge image)

Lindsay saw the western rose as symbolizing an active, dynamic spirit, while the eastern lotus symbolized a passive but contemplative spirit. Franklin K. Lane, Secretary of the Interior in President Wilson's cabinet, distributed this poem to Congress on the opening day of the Panama Exposition. (See HERE and HERE).

An earlier, British, poet Rudyard Kipling recorded his thoughts on the east-west divide in The Ballad of East and West, first published in 1889:
Oh, East is East and West is West, and never the twain shall meet,
Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God's great Judgment Seat;
But there is neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed, nor Birth,
When two strong men stand face to face, though they come from the ends of the earth!
Logically, I guess it'd be likely for world cultural divisions to follow a more east/west divide than north/south because the southern hemisphere didn't become as quickly settled from the north, or as industrialised and heavily populated at the same rate as in east/west development, which arose after humans (as far as we know) originated in either the East Africa region or in what we now call the Middle East. Both those regions could be seen as sitting on the cusp of east/west. Sigh....that's probably not as logical as I think it is, but it's all I can come up with!

Asian and other eastern societies were far more culturally and economically advanced than those in the west during the first millennium, but western nations moved ahead rapidly, and now it's the the east playing catch-up, likely soon to be on a winning streak. It's always east/west though, never north/south.....or so it seems. But Buddah said:
In the sky, there is no distinction of east and west; people create distinctions out of their own minds and then believe them to be true.


Anonymous said...

The farther east one lives, the more likely they are to be in the west. That can't be said of north and south.

If you wake-up not knowing north from south, water drains counterclockwise in the northern hemisphere, clockwise south of the equator.

"East of the Sun and West of the Moon" make better delineations.

“I am not from east or west
not up from the ground
or out of the ocean
my place is placeless
a trace of the traceless
I belong to the beloved” Rumi

Twilight said...

Anonymous ~~
Intriguing observations! Thanks.

DC said...

You had me remembering the sutras....Diamond and Lotus specifically.....a Buddhist thing of course...
Here's a link where Julie (the blog's author) dealt with this duality question in her own way :)

Twilight said...

DC ~ Thanks for the link - nice blog!
I did think of including an image of the yin/yang symbol in the post, it is another instance always illustrated in the left/right manner rather than up/down. I've never seen the yin'yang with the white at top and black bottom, come to think of it, always left/right.

Ah well - I'll have to fall back on that rather annoying phrase "it is what it is" - 'cos actually it is what it is and whatever the reason it's that way we're not in any position to do anything to change it - even if we thought it'd be a good idea to try. We humans are oriented east/west, left/right, and our challenge has always been, and will continue to be, to deal with it. :-)

Vanilla Rose said...

Active, dynamic Rose, yes, that is Vanilla Rose!

Chomp said...

The Rose is related to Rosy-Crucians too and it is not for chance, it may seem ...

Twilight said...

Vanilla Rose ~ Go get 'em Vanill!

Twilight said...

Chomp ~~ Oh yes - I hadn't thought of that - a definite link!