The basic structure of a mandala consists of multiple circles enclosing the square plan of the sacred palace proper. The outermost circle consists of a ring of brilliant flames. This circle is the Mountain of Fire (Tib. Me-ri) designed to deny access to the mysteries of the mandala to the unenlightened and the uninitiated. Symbolically, these flames stand for the burning consciousness which, in the process of concentration, should consume all spiritual obstacles, impurities, wrong-thinking and the clouds of ignorance, permitting individuals to proceed from dualistic thinking to gnostic unity.
A ring of lotus petals forms the inside boundary. These petals symbolize the harmonious unfolding of spiritual vision which is possible only in a pure consciousness.
Having passed through the initial stages, we now stand in proximity to the sacred area of the deity of the mandala. Its square plan shows the four gates at the four points of the compass which are enclosed by the points of a crossed diamond sceptre (Skt. Vishvavajra). The double vajra or the vishvavajra is the symbolic foundation for the square-shaped area, referred to as a palace.
At the center of the palace is enshrined the sacred presence of the four-armed Avalokiteshvara (Tib. Chenresig). Avalokiteshvara is the patron bodhisattva of Tibet and in his four-armed manifestation one of the most popular deities of this ancient Himalayan nation. According to the Oxford Dictionary of Buddhism, Avalokiteshvara's "activities especially involve the active practise of compassion (karuna) in order to save and protect beings. His name means 'the Lord who gazes' (compassionately upon beings)."
The artist has very resourcefully highlighted in visual terms the essential Buddhist precept of compassion using the symbolic presence of a deity who personifies this very ideal in the annals of Buddhist thought.