Beijing, 6 June (ZXS) -- Why is Chinese the lotus flower more "harmonious"?

The author: Liu Yuedi is a researcher at the Institute of Philosophy, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences

On the afternoon of June 6, Chinese President Xi Jinping met with visiting U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. In the center of the meeting table are blooming lotus flowers, which are eye-catching and cause heated discussion. In the "extraordinary" period of the international situation, the press interpreted it as: It is the time when the lotus flowers are in full bloom, and we look forward to peaceful coexistence and win-win cooperation between China and the United States.

Photo by Chen Wenwu

It seems to be a "homophonic terrier", but in fact, the lotus flower does have the meaning of "peace". The ancient Chinese often painted lotuses, begonias, and flying swallows together to make the "Heqing Haiyan Map". He and "river" homophony, Yan and "Yan" homophony, Heqing Haiyan originally meant that even the Yellow River water was clear, and the waves were calmed, which is a grand scene of "peace in the world". The Tang Dynasty poet Gu Chuang's so-called "leading the soil and the sky is unhappy, and the river is clear and the sea is poor", which is the meaning of this. It can be seen that the lotus flower can indeed be used as a cultural symbol of world peace, and "Heqing Petrel" is also a wonderful aesthetic combination.

Lotus flowers bloom in Liyuxi Park in Puyuan Village, Zhouning County, Fujian Province. Photo by Zhang Bin

The supreme status of lotus flowers in Chinese history did not happen overnight. From a quantitative point of view, in the total collection of Chinese poetry, the most praised in "Poems of the Pre-Qin, Han, Wei, Jin, Southern and Northern Dynasties" is orchids, with a total of 465 orchid poems; But by the time of the "All Tang Poems", the lotus flower has leapt to the top of all flowers, with as many as 2071,888 lotus poems; "Song Poems" is that plum blossoms become flowers, and a total of 483 plum poems appear; "Selected Yuan Poems" lotus regained the championship, with a total of 352 songs; "Ming Poems" is still led by lotuses, but the number drops to 1097; The number of lotuses in "Qing Poems" has increased to <>. The change in numbers shows how much Chinese loves lotus flowers. According to the dynasty, the lotus flower has "monopolized the flower" the most, and the number of Yonghe poems in previous dynasties is far more than that of other flower species, and the lotus flower can be described as a complete victory in the history of Chinese poetry.

Photo by Chen Wenwu

Summer begins in June, and the lotus flowers are really "in season". Under the bright sun, when the various flowers appear listless, only the lotus flowers stand in the water and look full of spirit, and even this season was praised by the ancients as "lotus moon" or "lucky moon". Interestingly, among the plant objects chanted by the ancients, lotus, plum, peach and chrysanthemums are the four flowers with the most. The so-called "winter plum", "spring peach", "summer lotus" and "autumn chrysanthemum", the four flowers that are chanted the most are assigned to the four seasons. The beauty of flowers is actually "the beauty of the four times", "the beauty of the flowers in the day, the wind moves the flowers lightly", the seasonal changes give birth to the creation of flowers, and the "flowers" in June are not lotuses.

China has 10,000 years of cultural history and more than 5,000 years of civilization. The beginning of the history of Chinese civilization is the beginning of Middle-earth agriculture, and the tradition of planting flowers and raising flowers is the fruit of agricultural civilization. However, the tradition of loving flowers and appreciating flowers is the result of Chinese endowing culture to plants and trees. The reason why Chinese loves flowers is precisely because flowers have never been external to human existence, but friends who form emotional communication with us. The so-called "if you are not doing something useless, why should you have a life". Flower appreciation, flower planting, and flower eating are such "unhelpful things", but they add infinite fun to the dull life and dull life, which constitutes the great wisdom of Chinese "life aesthetics".

In addition to the "love of grass and trees", the ancient Chinese also gave lotus flowers cultural meanings beyond grass and trees, or infused good wishes and moral ideals into plants and trees. From the description of "the mountain has Fusu, and the Xi has Hehua" in the Book of Poetry, which tends to be an objective object; to Hanle Mansion's "Jiangnan can pick lotus, lotus leaf He Tian Tian" for the aria of love and joy; Then to the sublimation of the moral character of "out of the mud and not clean, pure, clear and not demon" in Zhou Dunyi's "Love Lotus Says", it can be seen that the ancients increasingly gave the lotus flower the meaning of ethical sublimation.

Residents of Wulishu Community, Chenqiao Street, Chongchuan District, Nantong City, Jiangsu Province, make lotus lanterns. Photo by Xu Peiqin

In fact, the lotus flowers suitable for outdoor growth will be moved to the very special occasion of indoor viewing at the Sino-US meeting site, which is not only a "metaphor", but also a "self-metaphor". As a metaphor, it is a metaphor for the relationship between countries, hoping to achieve permanent international peace. The ancient Chinese also used lotus flowers to symbolize pure friendship, so they would fold plums in spring and send them away, and pick lotuses in autumn. If the lotus flower is a kind of "self-metaphor", then the spiritual temperament of "straight in the middle, not branches, fragrant and clear, pavilions and pavilions are clean, and can be viewed from afar without being profane", can also be used as a symbol of a great country, especially in this era of war and turmoil.

The "lotus" of the lotus flower, homonymous with "he" and "he", also highlights the orientation of Chinese civilization "shang hehe". In the perspective of "mutual cultural learning", the "harmony but difference" advocated by Chinese civilization can become the basic principle of civilization dialogue; conversely, "unity is not continued" is to deny the differences between civilizations and try to unify various civilizations, which is impossible and unnecessary, and does not help different civilizations in the world to achieve harmonious development together.

Tourists take photos of "lotus ice cream" in the lotus area of the Old Summer Palace Ruins Park. Photo by Chen Xiaogen

During the Sino-US meeting, the Chinese side conveyed the meaning of "harmony" with lotus flowers, which is not only a praise for China's traditional culture, but also a presentation of the foundation of Chinese civilization. Among the auspicious drawings of ancient folk is the famous "two immortals of harmony", one of them holding a lotus flower, the other holding a treasure box, with the meaning of "harmony" blessing. The ancient Chinese also set up a special festival for lotus flowers, the "Lotus Viewing Festival", which usually falls on the sixth or twenty-fourth day of the sixth month of the lunar calendar, and this ancient festival should be revived.

Cloth painting work "Harmony Two Immortals". Photo by Zhong Xin

The China-Central Asia Summit held earlier was China's first major home diplomatic event this year, and it was also the first time that China and Central Asian countries had held a summit in physical form since the establishment of diplomatic relations 31 years ago. After the summit, the heads of state of the six countries jointly planted six pomegranate trees to symbolize completion, auspiciousness, harmony and unity, which is the power of the grass and trees themselves by culture. In the process of building the modern civilization of the Chinese nation, we still need to "return to the original and open up a new one" and continue the tradition.

The construction of the modern civilization of the Chinese nation cannot be achieved behind closed doors, but must be realized in the exchange and interaction of multiple civilizations. Although globalization has been artificially blocked to some extent, its tide is still unstoppable. Without the support of global civilization, Chinese civilization cannot prosper for a long time; On the contrary, without the general trend of the rejuvenation of Chinese civilization, global civilization will also lose its multidimensional color. The ancients "red lotus white lotus green lotus leaves, the three religions were originally one family", is to use the components of the three colors of lotus flowers - red flowers, white lotus root, green lotus leaves, to compare the unity of Confucianism and interpretation within traditional Chinese culture.

Zhangjiagang City, Jiangsu Province, At night, the "lotus flowers", fountains, boats and beautiful water ripples of the pond are lit up, attracting citizens and tourists to stop and admire. Photo by Yang Mujun

The idea of "three teachings in one" was already a great spectacle in the late Ming Dynasty. Today, when we re-examine Confucianism, they are not actually three religions, but rather three cultural elements that underpin local traditions. Just like today, the lotus flower is not only one of the "ten famous flowers" in China, but also the "national flower" of neighboring India, in addition to being "unique" in Buddhism in history, the lotus flower also has a pivotal position in Hinduism.

In the tradition of Chinese civilization, Confucianism has given the lotus a unique cultural meaning, and now the new form of civilization has begun to give the lotus a new cultural meaning. Just as Dutch culture in different eras is constantly evolving, the evolution of lotus itself is slow, but the development of Dutch culture is advancing with the times, and the development of Chinese civilization in the era of globalization should also be the same. (End)

About the author:

Liu Yuedi is an advocate of life aesthetics, a researcher at the Institute of Philosophy of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, a doctoral supervisor in many universities at home and abroad, an honorary member of the Presidium of the Chinese Culture Promotion Association, a Fulbright visiting scholar in the United States, a former executive committee member of the International Association of Aesthetics (IAA) and the deputy secretary-general of Chinese aesthetics, and an editorial board member of Comparative Philosophy and Journal of East–West Thought. He is the author of "Aesthetics of Life", "History of Analytical Aesthetics", "Theory of Contemporary Art", "Aesthetics in Life", "Aesthetics of Life and Art Experience", "After the End of Art", "History of Visual Aesthetics", "The World Is Flat and Beautiful", "Life Aesthetics and Contemporary Art", "Aesthetics is Life", Subversive Strategies in Contemporary Chinese Art (Brill, 2011), The Aesthetics of Everyday Life: East and West (Cambridge Scholars, 2014), et al. He has translated many English monographs and planned many activities such as the selection of "Chinese Town Aesthetic Role Model".