The white lotus symbolizes mental purity and spiritual perfection, as it emerges out of the impure, muddied waters. Some buds are still deep in the muddy waters, some near surface, and some upon surface ready to receive rays of Sun. So it is with humans, some are ready to receive enlightenment.
The lotus is generally represented with eight petals, for the Eightfold Path.
Source: www.dam.brown.edu/.../ Lotus_Flower.JPG
Nineteenth Century Gilt-Copper Tibetan Buddha. With his eyes closed, Buddha sits peacefully on a Lotus bed, his right hand in the "Touching the Earth" position," symbolizing his overcoming of Mara and the researching of Awakening, while his left hand in the "Meditative" gesture.
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