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Q: Could you say briefly why we use the symbol of the lotus instead of another flower?
A: The lotus grows in muddy water. Because of this, it is always compared to bodhicitta and the bodhisattvas; those noble ones who take birth in samsara but are never affected by worldly conditioning. Similarly, the mud never affects the beauty of the lotus. It is always pure and beautiful. So "padma" means "lovely one." According to the Vajrayana this lovely one is no other than the truth of love and compassion, which is symbolized by a lotus..
Q: My question is about the symbolism of the color red.
A: In the Vajrayana all colors, implements and gestures are symbolic, with a wealth of meaning behind every attribute and gesture. In this context, red represents loving-kindness. This is called "great love beyond attachment." To move from attachment to loving-kindness beyond grasping is symbolized by the color red. Love is great detachment.
Q: Since we live in the dream state, how can we tell the difference between truth and illusion in our perceptions?
A: In equanimity, all are seen as equal, there is no distinction of good or bad; if it is true, it is all true, if it is untrue, it is all untrue. There is no relative up and down, no judgement day in equanimity. Therefore the ultimate dream, and the non-dream state, are understood to be exactly the same. But when you are obscured, you only see a little bit and judge aspects of dream experience as being more or less important. This is how sentient beings perceive the world.
Q: As we sit and look at you, are we seeing what you have emanated, or is it a reflection of our own perception?
A: It is both. When I look at you, you are giving me something and I am also giving something to you. And when you look at me, I'm giving something to you and you are giving something to me. It is a mutual exchange. But regardless of what happens in the stock market, once you see whatever you see, it becomes a mental construct which is completely your own private understanding.
All the input is brought back to your individual mind where it becomes your own personal business. Ordinary perception and communication suggest that there are two different things, private and public, but in the higher levels of equanimity, both are merged in a transcendent sameness.