As an exchange student in Hangzhou, China, I was fascinated by the aquatic lotus flower. The lotus is a sacred flower; a symbol of beauty, purity, rebirth, and spiritual awakening. Its seeds may remain viable for many years in the mud far beneath the surface of the water. The flower breaks the surface of the water each morning, then recedes beneath the water each evening as the sun sinks below the horizon. In Buddhist thought, the white lotus is considered to be the womb of the world.