The Unalome Symbol

I’ve recently been drawn to and fascinated with the symbol of the Unalome, which looks like this: 

In the Buddhist culture, this symbol represents a person’s path to enlightenment. 

1. The spirals at the bottom are the start of a soul’s journey and are meant to show the course of life’s path as one begins, going about one’s life in the day-to-day existence. Just starting to figure things out.

2. The shift to the “switchbacks,” back-and-forth, looping to the left and to the right, show the awakening process that happens with challenges and contrast. These twists and turns represent the back-and-forth of suffering, struggle, and learning as one moves forward, acknowledging the purpose of the contrast and opening to the nature of reality. Becoming more awake and elevated vibrationally in the process.  

3. The straight line upward at the end represents the course to enlightenment. In some of these Unalome symbols, there’s a lotus blossom at the top, signifying the adversity that was overcome to reach this level of inner awareness and enlightenment. 

4. The dot at the top represents the moment we fade into nothingness, the gap, the “all that is” as we transition from this physical life experience, which many would call death, yet there is no death, only life. Extraordinary life!

I find this symbol gives me hope because it shows that life’s suffering is just part of the process of learning and moving up towards a higher level of understanding, consciousness, and being. In fact, it shows that we need to embrace the negative: our sense of lack, grief, suffering, even sickness because as we acknowledge and understand the power of the contrast, we can then move into what would be considered the opposite: health and peacefulness. We need them both because together, as they are the process itself. The setbacks are temporary; both sides of a coin. We must learn to embrace the negative just as we do the positive until it becomes just one experience.

I’ve included the simple symbol with the lotus blossom at the top here – it doesn’t always include this – our designs on the SHOP page have a variety of depictions, but I appreciate the significance of the lotus on its own for a number of levels. First, the lotus blossom floats above the water and the mud below, showing how it rises above all else. It also shows how the negative energy – the muck and mud – is converted into positive energy – the lotus blossom. And it’s also important to note that the flower can’t exist without coming from the mud below.  If the lotus can grow up into a beautiful, sweet-scented flower from the depths and the dirt, so we can grow from our own depths up into a beautiful state of enlightenment. 

So, when you’re having a day that starts with oversleeping, rushing, stress and overwhelm, and you feel like you can’t keep up – it’s time to look toward a mindfulness practice to fully understand it’s part of the process. When your body aches or you’re sick and you feel exhausted or you can’t concentrate – it’s a sign you need to take care of yourself. Again, mindful awareness, meditation, and gratitude are your tools.  And when something happens that is sad or upsetting or brings you to your knees – it’s not the end; it is needed for your development. Honor it and work with it to fully comprehend the message that is being provided to you. Not anyone else, just you. 

If you share the passion for this powerful and profound symbol, check out these designs as a reminder and affirmation

As always, “Nourish Yourself Mindfully – Give From the Overflow.”

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Lee Papa

Lee Papa

Lee Papa is an internationally recognized and leading Mindfulness & Meditation Speaker, Trainer and Coach.

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