Just under the top edge on the front is the continuous “T” or thunder-wave. This is symbolic of an epiphany, carrying the same meaning as the single dorje, 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 zigzag gold and red design on the frame represents the transmutation of passion in to compassion and the purity of thought and actions that comes from this transformation.
The two upper panels adjacent to the upper doors have a most unusual Ashoka blossom that has yogurt for some of the petals. I really love this mixing of icons to make a neditational statement. The stem of the Ashoka is made of Durva grass and this is all set in the Mahamudra mists. 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). This flower sprouted when Amitabha heard of Ashoka, a great warrior, that lead his people to freedom, overcoming and defeating overwhelming forces of the enemy. The yogurt is representative of the long time it takes to overcome or cure your transgressions, as yogurt takes a long time to cure or ferment. The Durva grass is also a symbol of long life: because grass is highly resilient, it is believed to be immortal. Therefore, it proclaims the end of samsara, the successive death and rebirth of all beings It usually takes a long time to overcome samsara, and a longer life span will allow greater progress in moving towards enlightenment within a given cycle. So here you have in the Ashoka, the overcoming of your enemies, the poisons or delusions that cause you to suffer, coupled with the long life in which to accomplish this, with the yogurt symbolic that you will accomplish it in this life time!
The upper doors have a stack of Cintamani, with the top jewel being Chakravartin's Precious 8-faceted jewel; just be hind the Cintamani are two sets of Elephant tusk, representing the entire elephant and thus also Chakravartin's Precious Elephant along with his Precious Queen's earrings. 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. Pictured here are 6 flaming jewels. The flames around the border of the Cintamani are symbolic of the burning away of false desires and ignorance, giving way to enlightenment. The top Cintamani as stated before is Chakravartin's Precious Jewel, one of is seven precious possessions: the elephant and the queen's earrings are also part of his seven precious possessions. Chakravartin, or AKA Wheel Turner, in Hinduism refers to an ideal ruler, but in Buddhism, Chakravartin has come to mean a Buddha whose all-encompassing teachings are universally true. Chakravartin has an army of 4 divisions, infantry, cavalry, elephants, and chariots. Chakravartin is the lineage of 25 Kulika kings or enlightened monarchs, the 25th of which will finally defeat the "non-believers." 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. Elephant tusks are sometimes depicted and are symbolic of the whole elephant. The Precious Queen's heavy earrings are taken as a symbol of comprehension of the Buddha’s teachings. The weight of the earrings would have caused the wearers earlobes to elongate. The long earlobes of the Buddha are a symbol of her detachment from all things earthly. The Queen speaks the truth, using no frivolous words and holding no false vices. Lastly the eight faceted blue jewel of Chakravartin: eight-faceted, as in having eight magical properties. It 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 background has the Mahamudra Mists peaking over the mountains. 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. This is also the basic meaning of the "Heart Sutra." Intermixed with the Mahamudra mists are two mare's tail cumulus clouds which 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.
The lower doors are joyous; in the foreground a fireworks display of a lotus blossom and two Champaka blossoms just be hind a precious offering of white coral. At the very to of the door is a single Cintamani. The Champaka is the 3rd flower of the holy trinity of flowers in Buddhist symbology, the 1st is the Lotus and the 2nd is the Ashoka. The Champaka is also called the camp flower. The Champaka is a white blossom from the wish-fulfilling tree & is an attribute of Maitreya Buddha, conferring love, compassion & beauty. 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, which you need a long life to accomplish.
The way to get there is through the Buddhist scriptures; enter the rock cliffs on the adjacent panels: rock/cliff formation represents the syllable "E" which appears in the opening stanza of early Buddhist scriptures, ("'thus,' I have heard"). The blue and green cliffs represent the unmoving nature of the mind when enlightenment has been attained. When we get to that point of enlightenment we understand the Mahamudra mists. 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.
The two bottom panels have multi colored kusha grass, while the two drawers have Ashoka Blossoms and durva grass. 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 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. Ashoka ruled a vast empire 2200 years ago and put his peoples welfare and interests above his own, he supported Buddhism, however he was insistent upon religious tolerance and open dialog