The front is bordered with red and blue Chrysanthemums on a 24kt gold background. The chrysanthemum symbolizes autumn & the gathering of the harvest. In this case, it is a metaphor for achieving the goal of enlightenment & its accompanying peace. The blue represents compassion. Red is the transmutation of passion into compassion, while the gold represents the purity of thought and actions that comes with the transformation.
The center of the front has a beautiful Victory Banner, one of the Eight Auspicious Symbols in Tibetan Buddhism; it is uniquely sitting upon what appears to be a chrysanthemum throne with durva grass and lotus buds all set in the Mahamudra Mists. The Victory banner ~~ Sanskrit dhvaja ~ Tibetan rgyal mtshan, is an early Buddhist motif meaning the enlightenment of the Buddha and the triumph of knowledge over ignorance, this symbol also is used to recall the Buddha’s triumph over his temptress, Mara. Mara and her demonic hosts personify hindrances and defilements. The Victory banner in Tibetan Buddhism symbolizes the 11 methods for overcoming these defilements. The development of knowledge, wisdom, compassion, meditation, and ethical vows; taking refuge in the Buddha; abandoning false views; generating spiritual goals, skilful means and selflessness; and the unity of the 3 samadhis: emptiness~formlessness~& desirelessness. The unity of the 3 samadhis aligns well with the Mahamudra Mists. 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. This is also the basic meaning of the "Heart Sutra."
Both sides feature lotus buds set in the Mahamudra Mists. 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 3 stages of the lotus, bud, utpala (mid-blossom) and the full blossoming throne represent the past present and future respectively.
The top is wonderfully and uniquely designed with multiple 4-petaled flowers. The Center motif is very stylized with durva grass as the center of a Dharma wheel and the rim actually being 4 petals of the Ashoka flower. The 4-petaled flower is symbolic of the 4 Noble truths, the middle way and the first teaching of Buddha. 1. Life is suffering. 2. Ignorance is the cause of suffering. 3. The cessation of suffering is the goal of life because it transcends pains and pleasure. 4. The way to the cessation of suffering is the Noble Eightfold Path, which aligns with the eight spokes of the Dharma Wheel. Those Dharma Wheel spokes are the orange background that protrudes into the Ashoka petals in the center motif. The Dharma Wheel ~~Sanskrit chakra ~ Tibetan `khor lo, which is in three parts, the 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 and complete, like the teachings of the Buddha. 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.