The red and 24kt gold zigzag kyungbur adorning the frame is the transition of passion into compassion and the resultant Buddha like purity of actions and thoughts. The 24kt gold continuous ‘T’-wave just under the top edge of the of the altar is also called the thunder wave. This is the thunder of the vajra (diamond scepter, dorje in Tibetan), symbolizing skilful means, compassion, samsara. This compassion is an active quality rather than mere sympathetic feelings not transformed into action. Compassion refers to action that is exactly consonant with whatever is occurring and that is not self-referential.
The tiger is a symbol of strength and military prowess. Tantric Buddhism offers a more subtle meaning. Here, the tiger on the doors represents the transmutation of anger into wisdom and insight, also offering protection to the meditator from outside harm or spiritual interference. Consequently, tiger skins were favored as meditational mats for Tantric sages. Tigers were indigenous to eastern Tibet, where the Senge (Wutun in Chinese) monastery is located. Tiger icons in Tibetan Buddhism are more prevalent in eastern Tibet and appear on more furniture & rugs here than elsewhere in Tibet. The top of the tiger's head and his two jowls have a yin-yang symbol that morphs into the tiger's stripes. The yin-yang, shaped like spiraled tear drops, constitute a circle that is divided in two by an S. The dot, not represented on this tiger, in the middle of each half symbolizes that each element at its highest point carries within itself the seed of its polar opposite, that it can change and cross over into the other. Yin is the female, the passive, the receptive, the dark and the soft. Yang is the masculine, the active, the light and the stern. The joining of the two created from the One is the source of creative energy in the Universe. Below the tiger are three stacks of three Cintamani; two of which are over bolts of fine cloth draped over a leopard skin and a tiger skin. This leopard and tiger combination represents the male and the female, the union of method and wisdom respectively, and is tantric in its very nature. The center set of Cintamani is surrounded by elephant tusks, representing the entire elephant and orange coral; all sitting on top of an Ashoka throne. Cintamani are wish-granting jewels and additionally represent wisdom. When depicted in sets of 3, they represent the body, speech and mind of Buddha such as the practitioner may possess. Cintamani are also referred to as the “Thinking Jewel” and symbolize the importance of teaching and as well as the enlightened mind. The flames around the border of the top Cintamani are symbolic of the burning away of false desires and ignorance, giving way to enlightenment.
The top Cintamani in each stack is Chakravartin's Eight-Faceted Precious Jewel, while the elephant tusks represent Chakravartin's Precious Elephant. The term Chakravartin in Hinduism refers to an ideal ruler, but in Buddhism, Chakravartin has come to mean a Buddha whose all-encompassing teachings are universally true. The Eight-faceted jewel, as in having eight magical properties; cools when the days are hot, warms when the days are cold, illuminates the darkness of night, causes rain to fall or a spring to appear when one is thirsty, it brings to fruition what ever the bearer desires, it heals emotional afflictions, and cures all of the diseases of those who are in its range of its light and lastly prevents untimely death as in fathers passing on before sons. The Precious Elephant is a symbol of the strength of the mind in Buddhism. Exhibiting noble gentleness, the precious elephant serves as a symbol of the calm majesty possessed by one who is on the path. Specifically, it embodies the boundless powers of the Buddha, which are miraculous aspiration, effort, intention, and analysis. The elephant is always depicted as an albino elephant, which are considered the hardest to tame and train.
The two drawers and their adjacent panels all have Lotus blossoms, additionally the drawers have Ashoka blossoms. The lotus is an important Buddhist motif. Images of the Buddha and other important persons often are shown seated on a lotus throne. The growth of the lotus, with its roots in mud, growing through water, and emerging as a wonderful plant above the water's surface, is seen as an analogy of the soul’s path from the mud of materialism to the purity of enlightenment. The Ashoka, the second of the trinity of holy flowers, sprouts from the holy water-font of the Amitayus, one of the forms in which the Buddha Amitabha appeared (symbolizing the transformation from greed to discriminating wisdom). The sprout materialized from a tear that Buddha Amitabha shed when hearing of the deeds of the great warrior Ashoka that overcame all of his enemies to win freedom for his oppressed people. True spiritual freedom comes from overcoming the sins and lusts that enslave the soul.
The panels flanking the doors are adorned at the top with three strings of Cintamani, each with a torma center. These are flanked by the Mahamudra Mists and all are supported by subtle energy that emanates from the Treasure Jar. The torma is a 'casting out' of ignorance, poisons, and defilements, so that the wisdom of the Cintamani can enter. The subtle energy is that which the Bodhisattva generates through mantric/tantric practice; it influences the events in the cosmos as the practitioner directs. The billowing clouds or mist are Mahamudra: the union of compassion and wisdom -- the ultimate realization of one’s true nature. They are represented as the transformation of our vices into the 4 powers of regret, vow, reliance, and remedy, so the practitioner will realize purification and enlightenment. These things are inner related, a person needs to be pure of thought and deed to gain access to the cosmic stream represented by the subtle energy, while enlightened thought understands Mahamudra, which is where the cosmic mindstream exists. The Treasure Jar or urn (kalasa) promises the good fortune of spiritual and material fulfillment, symbolizing the treasure of spiritual wealth. Among those treasures is the jewel of enlightenment. It also extends to the material side and it is characteristic of the deities that symbolize prosperity.
Under the Treasure Jar is a grand Ashoka blossom, a lotus blossom, kusha grass and rock cliffs at the bottom of the panel. Kusha grass grows to a height of two feet and is used to purify defilements. Those wishing purification sleep in a field or patch of kusha grass for ritual purification. Placed under a pillow at night before initiation, Kusha grass is believed to produce clear dreams; it is also used to enhance the clarity of visualization and meditation. Kusha is the grass of choice for the manufacture of sacred meditation mats. The rock/cliff formation represents the syllable "E" which appears in the opening stanza of early Buddhist scriptures, ("'thus,' I have heard"). The blue, orange and green cliffs represent the unmoving nature of the mind when enlightenment has been attained.