Both sides of this box have a green & brown dragon clutching Cintamani & flying over mountains. Unlike its demonic European counterpart, the Tibetan dragon is a creature of great creative power; a positive icon, representing the strong, male yang-principle of heaven, change, energy, wealth & creativity. Dragons are shape-shifters, able to transform at will, from as small as the silkworm to a giant that fills the entire sky. Dragons are depicted in one of two colors, green or brown. The green, or azure, dragon of Buddhism ascends into the sky at the spring equinox; it represents the light's increasing power in springtime & the easterly direction of the sunrise. The brown dragon is the autumn equinox, when it descends into a deep pool, encasing itself in mud until the next spring, but its spirit is still with the practitioner bringing wealth & health. The pearls, or jewels clutched in the claws of the dragon represent wisdom & health. The dragon can control the weather by squeezing the jewels to produce dew, rain or even downpours when clutched tightly. The dragon is the vehicle of Vairochana, the white Buddha of the center or the east. The depiction of the mountains acknowlege them as the source of water; only in Tibet can water offerings be made according to Atisha: at the age 59, he wrote his most influential text, Lamp of the Path to Enlightenment. In this text, he organized the many teachings into a pathway for progressive training. When he later went to Tibet, he was so taken with the purity of the water that he sanctioned it as an 8th offering for those in Tibet.
The top has 3 of the 8 Auspicious symbols, the Parasol, the Dharma Wheel & the Lotus Blossom. The parasol & the shade it casts symbolize wisdom. Its hanging skirt indicates compassion, so the parasol becomes a symbol of protection from the painful heat of the suffering humans incur from the spiritual poisons of desire, hate, greed & ignorance. In three parts, the Dharma Wheel exists as a hub, the center of the world. The 8 spokes denote the 8 paths to enlightenment. These 8 steps work together, not separately. 1. right understanding . 2. right attitude 3. right speech 4. right action 5. right work 6. right effort 7. right mindfulness 8. right meditation The rim represents the attribute of limitation. All are contained within a circle, which is perceived to be perfect & complete, like the teachings of the Buddha. The lotus flower is a natural symbol & represents earth. Tibetan Buddhist mystics imagined the earth floating like a lotus flower on the oceans of the universe. The heart of the flower is the cosmic mountain, the axis of the universe. The generally acknowledged meaning of the lotus flower is purity of mind or divine creation. From the muck of a pond, where the roots of the lotus reside, an immaculate white flower emerges to rest on the surface as a metaphor for the harmonious unfolding of spirituality. The lotus is an important Buddhist motif. Images of the Buddha & other important persons often are shown seated on a lotus throne. The growth of the lotus, with 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 purity of enlightenment. The 3 stages of the lotus, bud, utpala (mid-blossom) & the full blossoming throne represent the past,, present, & future respectively.
The mantra on each end of the box is OM AH HOM, which is the "Body~Speech~Mind" of Buddha, as in one's acquisition of these properties.