Symbols and art

In Vajrayana Buddhism, mandala (Skt. ‘circle’) refers to a meditative image designed on a strictly symmetrical basis. Like a map, it guides the practitioner through a meditation. In terms of form, a mandala consists of an outer ring featuring several circles and an inner square with four gates. This inner palace is home to the mandala’s principal deity. In meditation, the practitioner first has to mentally overcome the outer rings by purifying his mind, speech, and body. He then enters the gates of the palace where he lets each of the deities arise in his mind before he encounters the central meditation deity.