Saturday, April 17, 2010


There are many rites of passage. Today, was a new one for my daughter. I had gone yesterday to get a couple of new tattoos. On the inside of my upper left arm I had this Buddhist quote placed there, "Peace Comes From Within. Do Not Seek It Without." I also had a mandala placed midway down my arm. The mandala reminds me that I am but a small part of the larger picture. It represents the journey from the outer cosmos, to the inner, deeper unconscious self. It will also serve as an aid to my meditation, leading me toward being centered.

My daughter has always wanted a tattoo, and I had taken her to get one almost two years ago, but we found that she was not old enough. She was 17, and was told that she needed to wait until turning 18. She opted for a new piercing at the time. In talking today, I remembered that she had wanted for the two of us to someday get matching tattoos. I suggested that we make an appointment, and each get a lotus flower.

The lotus produces a beautiful flower even with its roots in the dirtiest water. The symbolism is that a person can rise above being rooted in the ugliness and suffering of this world, and should try to be pure and help others with the beauty of the spirit.

Lotus flower tattoos are popular among people who have gone through a hard time and are now coming out of it. Like the flower they have been at the bottom in the muddy, dirty bottom of the pond but have risen above this to display an object of beauty or a life of beauty. Thus a lotus flower tattoo can also represent a hard time in life that has been overcome.

Above my daughter's lotus flower is the symbol for Om. In Hinduism it represents both the unmanifest (nirguna) and manifest (saguna) aspects of God. Om is often used to begin mediation, as it means "to shout, sound, praise." I also have an Om centered in my mandala.

Okay, so enough of the history lesson. The point of all this is that we have both been on quite a journey. We continue to be on a journey. I don't want to assign too much meaning to the symbolism for my daughter, but as her father, I would say that her journey is significant. She has definitely had her struggles, and together we will continue to face them.

As for me, my body art serves as a testament to where I have been, what feeds me today, and what will guide me in the days ahead.


  1. Dan, thanks so much for sharing this! My boys, now ages 15 and 17 have wanted matching tattoos on their shoulders to honor their beloved Dad. There are a fair number of boys on their wrestling team with tattoos but I have felt they should wait until they turn 18. They ask me for permission every birthday and Christmas.

    Now I am very inspired to join them when we go ahead with the tattoos to get one myself. I so much like the idea of the lotus flower. My sons will faint when I tell them I want to get one too! In part I have resisted because their Dad was not keen on tattoos. But since his death they have become so mainstream.

    A lovely young woman came into the Big Box Store this summer and I asked to see her tattoo on her shoulder. It was an angel and she told me it represented her father who had died many years ago. She had four sisters and they all had the same tattoo, which they'd gotten in celebration of her wedding. I like the idea of the boys having an image of their father always looking over and out for them. I was so touched by this story as I was also touched and inspired by your's today.

  2. Michael wasn't a fan of tattoos either. In time he came to understand that it was an important way for me to express myself. I think he would be a bit concerned with the amount of ink that has made it's way to my body during the past 6 months. Yet, I also know that he would feel honored in being my inspiration.