The overall theme of this offering cabinet is one of acquiring the power or prowess of healing; healing onself and healing others through meditation and the application of tantric practice. The tigers on the doors are basically reserved for Lamas, and speak to tantric methodology in acquiring enlightenment. Tiger skins were a favored meditational mat for Tantric sages. In Tantric Buddhism, the tiger skin represents the transmutation of anger into wisdom and insight, also offering protection to the meditator from outside harm or spiritual interference. Tiger icons in Tibetan Buddhism are most prevalent in eastern Tibet, appearing on more furniture and rugs here than anywhere else in Tibet.
The 24kt gold continuous ‘T’-wave just under the top edge of the of the offering cabinet 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 mantra in the gold Tibetan holy script is the 6-syllable Mantra of Avalokiteshvara, OM MANI PADME HUM; which is sometimes explained as ”The jewel in the heart of the Lotus.” The first OM refers to Buddha’s body, speech & mind, as in possessing this oneself; the MA of MANI is a jewel or treasure, (wisdom/thinking). The NI of the MANI is the altruistic mind. PADMI is the lotus flower, the nature of reality of Buddha’s wisdom. HUM is the determination and resolution to acquire and retain these qualities. The first script is HOM and the last is AH, these refer to the mind and heart of Buddha, thus this them becomes an eight syllable mantra if one wants to use it, HOM OM MANI PADMI HUM AH: setting up a pendulum like effect of the sounds, switching channels in the Chakra system. (you notice this more when you have a stuffy sinus) This is two mantas in one, and more in keeping with advanced tantric practice. (some mantras have three hidden mantras in them, usually only seen on older advanced practice pujas)
The offer bowl below the tiger has both Bilva and Bael Fruit inside. Bilva fruit, also known as the Bengal quince: medicinally, Bilva is a potent astringent and highly regarded for its purifying qualities in traditional Indian folk medicine. The unripe interior of the fruit, especially when made into a jam, was the best known cure for diarrhea and dysentery. It is regarded as one of the most sacred fruits and serves as one of the main offering fruits. In this offering of Bilva fruit, representing the sense-offering of taste, the Buddha Amoghasiddhi is manifested as motivation or will. The wood apple, or bael fruit, is a baseball-sized fruit with a hard skin and a sticky, highly aromatic pulp. This fruit is eaten more for its medicinal qualities than for its taste. Bael fruit increases one's beneficial, positive karma and thus brings one closer to release from samsara. The fruit also symbolizes the goal of recognizing emptiness and dependency and the connection between cause and effect. It challenges us to avoid actions that will cause suffering and to increase actions that will promote healing.
The drawers have a very stylized character shou: this is presented here in the form of a butterfly. The butterfly is a favored symbol in Chinese art, recalling the dream of Taoist philosopher, Chuang Tzu. Chuang Tzu, having dreamed that he was a butterfly joyously flittering, posed the question, “Did Chuang Tzu dream he was a Butterfly? Or is the butterfly still dreaming that he is Chuang Tzu?” The caterpillar, chrysalis and butterfly, as unified symbols of transmutation, resurrection and immortality, are perhaps best described in the aphorism, “What the caterpillar perceives as the end of all things, the rest of the world perceives as the beginning of the butterfly”. This speaks both to reincarnation and what is reality.