The front has 2 Golden fish, one of the 8 Auspicious symbols, swimming in an Alms bowl with Cintamani. The Alms Bowl is set upon a Lotus throne with the rim of the Alms bowl done in a Lotus design. Flanking the 2 Golden Fish are rock cliffs set in the Mahamudra mists. The Cintamani in the Alms Bowl is a magical jewel with the power to grant wishes, able to fulfill any & all desires, also called the thinking jewel. Jewels in Buddhism are analogous with the importance of teaching, representing also the mind that has attained enlightenment. The rock/cliff formation represents the the syllable 'E' which appears in the opening stanza of early Buddhist scriptures, ('thus,' I have heard). Out of the rock cliffs Kusha grass is growing: 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 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 that the practitioner will realize purification and enlightenment.
The blessing on the lid's front begins with a greeting of utmost respect something like the way Westerners start letters with "Dear." This is the wavy swirls at the far left of the script. It reads in Tibetan, "OM DE LAG SO GURG," which translates best as "May your body, speech and mind stay peaceful." This is a typical blessing/greeting in Tibet. The front & all the trim have blue & red chrysanthemums with white tips. 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. The white tips denote purity.
The trunk's top has a stylized Dharma Wheel, flanked by durva grass. In the center of the stylized Dharma wheel is a 4 petaled flower. 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 and complete, like the teachings of the Buddha. Grass is 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 & rebirth of all beings. It usually takes a long time to overcome samsara, & a longer life span will allow greater progress in moving towards enlightenment within a given cycle.
The sides have 6 flaming Cintamani sitting on a lotus throne. The lotus is an important Buddhist motif since images of the Buddha and other important deities often are seen 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 an 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 and is beautiful, so must you raise your thinking out of the mud with pure, clean thoughts that are noble and praiseworthy. Then, you also will be beautiful.