The front doors display a beautiful red & white lotus blossom, which is the dominate icon throughout this expertly painted piece. Seated upon the lotus blossom is a wonderful gold filigree pad with a Dharma Wheel surrounded by an orange silk-ribbon. Emanating from the lotus & reaching up the side of the doors is the "wave" -- Mahamudra: the union of compassion & wisdom, the ultimate realization of one’s true nature. This wave is also featured with the lotus throughout this piece. The combinations of colors represent the elements & thoughts that come into play.
The lotus is an important Buddhist motif since images of the Buddha & other important deities often are shown seated on a lotus throne. The growth of the lotus, its roots in mud & growing through water to emerge as a wonderful plant above the surface, is seen as 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, clean thoughts that are noble & praiseworthy. Then, you also will be beautiful.
The mantra on the tops & bottoms of both doors is OM MANI PADME HUM. The 6 syllables are the famous mantra of Avalokiteshvara, 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 & resolution to acquire & retain these qualities.
The Dharma Wheel seated upon the Lotus has a red & blue ying-yang symbol in the center. 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 orange ribbon denotes keeping one's material desires in check by subjecting them to the enlightenment path.
The two drawers have a lotus on each surrounded by durva grass pointing the way to Mahamudra. Durva grass is symbolic of longevity; because grass is highly resilient, it is believed to be immortal. Therefore, it proclaims the end of samsara, the successive death & rebirth of all beings. It usually takes a long time to overcome samsara, & a longer lifespan will allow greater progress in moving towards enlightenment within a given cycle.
At the top of the lotus is a Phurba with Kusha grass instead of the usual flames. The double-edged sword ("Khadga" in Sanskrit, "Phurba" in Tibetan) symbolizes the knowledge that severs & burns away the knot of ignorance, besides keeping danger at bay. It is used by a bodhisattva who goes fearlessly wherever his help is needed by those on the path to enlightenment. He has a special affinity for women, children, & travelers, & he is characterized chiefly by benevolence, determination, & unflagging optimism. Oftentimes, the sword is depicted as a flaming sword. However, here Kusha grass replaces the usual flames for denoting purification. Kusha grows to a height of two feet & is used to purify defilements; those wishing purification will sleep in a field or patch of Kusha grass to acquire ritual purification. Kusha grass under a pillow at night before initiation is used to produce clear dreams; it is also used in Buddhism to enhance the clarity of visualization & meditation. Kusha is the grass of choice for the manufacture of sacred meditation mats.