The front is blue and 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 red white and blue also denote the mantra Om Ah Hum, which is also the body, speech and mind of Buddha as in acquiring this. The sets of flowers on either side of the main set represent the 4 petaled flower, while the main set represents the Dharma Wheel. 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.
The sides each have a Dharma Wheel with the yin-yang symbol in the center. 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 Yin and Yang is polarity and resolution, Yin is female, the passive, the receptive, the dark and the soft. Yang is the masculine, the active, the light and the stern. The joining of the two created from the one is the source of creative energy in the Universe. The dot in each symbolizes that each element at its highest point carries within itself the seed of its polar opposite, that it can change and cross over to the other.
The top continues the central theme of compassion & wisdom with the unusual & innovative design using durva grass and an Ashoka blossom in a stupa-style rendition. The Ashoka blossom has a sum pad bubbling up with Kusha grass shooting from the top . Durva 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 and rebirth of all beings It usually takes a long time to overcome samsara, and a longer lifespan will allow greater progress in moving towards enlightenment within a given cycle. 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.
The lid's front edge has a Tibetanized rendition of Sanskrit. It begins with the Tibetan symbol of greatest respectful greeting & continues in Romanized Tibetan with the mantra, OM MANI PADME HUM ~ OM MA MA HUM. The first 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 and resolution to acquire and retain these qualities. The second part of the script, after a spacer, OM MA is a commitment to follow the Dharma and the MA HUM is the resolve to follow the commitment.