The over riding theme of this trunk is one of joyous freedom and enlightenment through gaining wisdom through the scriptures. Each panel has rock cliffs, representing the scriptures and the sayings of the Buddha, with the top and sides emphasizing this.
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. In the upper left and right portion of the front is multi-colored Durva grass peeking through the mahamudra mists. 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 life span will allow greater progress in moving towards enlightenment within a given cycle.
The holy text on the lid's front begins trunk begins with a greeting of utmost respect, something like the way Westerners start letters with "Dear;" done in gold kyungbur. It then continues with Avalokiteshvara's 6-syllable mantra OM MANI PADME HUM, then has a spacer and continues with OM AH HUM, all written in the Tibetan holy script. 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 OM AH HUM refers to the channel wheel system and the head, throat and heart respectively. 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 red, blue and green rock cliffs arranged in a pyramid of columns, as to point the way to the Mahamudra mists and rainbows set between stone mountains. The rainbow is eternity’s expression of momentary delight. This is Auspicious and takes on a supernatural meaning: the demise of a great teacher and his rebirth. Rainbows materialize and dissolve into nothingness, and in Tibetan tradition, it is the “Body of Light” or the “Rainbow Body” and refers to a great master who has attained Mahamudra and no longer perceives the world as a conceptual concrete dimension; rather, he now permeates space as mist, also known as the ultimate form of reality. The self is now permeating space with luminescence transparency, with nothing solid or any sharp lines of separation.
The sides again have the pyramidal rock cliffs with grand Kusha grass growing out of the tops pointing to the Mahamudra mists.