The growth of the lotus, its roots in mud, growing through water, & emerging as a wonderful plant above the surface, is seen as an analogy of the soul’s path from the mud of materialism to the air of enlightenment. Just as the lotus blossom rises above the mud & is beautiful, so must you raise your thinking with pure thoughts that are noble & praiseworthy; then, you also will be beautiful. The lotus in mid-blossom represents the present time; a bud represents the past, while the full-bloom represents the future. The general theme is one of transmutation of passion into active compassion. The blue is symbolic of the actual change-over, the death of passion or desires and the red is the fulfillment, the fruits of the efforts expended; true compassion as an active way of life.
The frame is decorated with a blue and green cloud design. These are mare's tail cumulus clouds that are linked together. Mare's tail cumulus clouds are quite common in Tibet. One significance of these fast moving clouds and the pure clarity of the sky is metaphorically an illustration of the Buddha Mind. Clouds may come and go across the heavens, like the transitory thoughts or delusions which appear to obscure the mind's true nature, yet the nature of the sky remains unchanged. This is like the mirror, which is always unaffected by the appearances which arise in it, the sky is clear, transparent, infinite and immaculate.
Just under the top edge is the continuous T-wave, which is also called the thunder wave and represents the double dorje, is an epiphany, a sudden realization; Dorje (Tibetan) thunderbolt, or double diamond, ("visvavajra" in sanskrit). Its four heads represent the four Dhyani Buddha. Of these, it is associated primarily with Akmoghasiddhi, lord of the north, the Karma Family Buddha, whose name means "Unfailing Accomplishment." The double Dorje represents the indestructibility of all phenomenonal essence. It serves as a symbol of harmony, immutability, and all -knowingness.
The Tibetan name is Chösum for the cabinet presented on this page. They were used as a butter lamp stand and as a butter sculpture stand for offerings and ritual purposes. It also housed the toma, a small sculpture used as an offering, made of tsampa. Tsampa is a staple of the Tibetan diet, composed of barley powder and yak butter. Usually once each year the High Lama will come to the practitioners house with the toma stick (see below), a long 4 sided mold for making different offerings, and make specific offerings for the family. Using the tsampa dough the High Lama would press the required amount into the carved molds on the toma stick for each specific request or need. These then will be kept for the entire year in the cabinet, taken out periodically and placed on the top of the cabinet and a little melted butter will be added for a new offering. Ornate Chösum stands like this one would only be found in a labrang (lama’s home).
The Toma stick has carved molds on all 4 sides, these carvings are the Auspicious symbols, the 12 zodiac symbols, peaceful and wrathful deities and other iconic representations and offerings. The Toma stick pictured here is more than 300 years old, over 27" in length and is a very large one; usually they are about 1/3 to 1/4 this size. It developed a small check or crack that cuts through the Dharma wheel, Parasol and the Victory Banner rendering it unsuitable formaking those molds.