Following this is a thin circular band of vajras which indicates the
transition to the world of knowledge.
The next circle contains the eight dharmachakras that refer to the
historical Buddha setting the wheel of the teachings into motion. Letters
between the wheels indicate various deities.
Next is the ring of fire, rendered florally in rainbow colors. Fire in
Tantrism means knowledge. Without knowledge (prajna) there is no possibility
of arriving at supreme understanding. Here, fire also means that believers
who enter the mandala are purified, as it were, and at their passage through
the purging fire, their ego and all their illusions will burn away.
Then there is a circle of lotus petals. Here the spiritual realm begins and
one enters the mandala.
Esoteric Buddhist thought believes that the cosmic mountain, Mount Meru,
where the gods live, is in the center of the cosmic ocean.
The Kalachakra mandala has as its center Mount Meru with the four corners of
the world around it. On a flat plane, only the projection of this can be
seen. The four corners are rendered as four gates that are each colored
differently. Each cardinal direction is indicated by a color. The elements
of earth, water, fire, air, and ether that are symbolized by the structural
portions of a stupa and thus are also present in Mount Meru, are indicated
in the mandala by the various squares. Through the entrance gates, the
believer gets inside the mandala.
According to tradition, Shakyamuni Buddha is supposed to have communicated
the Kalachakra tantra in the mystical land of Shambhala. It is in the heart
of Shambhala, in the center of a palace with nine stories, that there is
believed to be a large Kalachakra mandala.
Shambhala is a mythic kingdom, believed to lie somewhere to the north of
Tibet, surrounded by high, snowy mountains. Shambhala is a paradise on
earth. Its people are not acquainted with illness or hunger and nothing but
happiness prevails. This practically unattainable utopia can only be found
by people who are sufficiently pure of spirit and free of ignorance. The
Panchen Lamas are said to reincarnate as kings of Shambhala. At the topmost
layer of the painting can be seen the various kings of Shambhala.
This enviable paradise led to numerous literary and artistic speculations in
the West. The one that became most famous was the creation of the ideal
world of Shangri-La in the James Hilton novel Lost Horizons, first published
Of Related Interest:
Book: Sacred Mandala of Buddhism
Tibetan Thangka Painting: Vishwavajra Mandala
Sterling Silver Pendant: Mandala Box Pendant with Filigree
Article: The Buddhist Mandala - Sacred Geometry and Art
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