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.
Then follows the second, narrow circle which shows interconnected vajras. The vajra signifies the indestructible adamantine nature of pure consciousness, and it is the strongest symbol of the state of enlightenment that can be revealed in a mandala.
Finally, 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.Crowning each gate are a male and female deer resting on either side of the golden dharmachakra or 'wheel of dharma.' They represent harmony, happiness, and fidelity, and are especially important in Buddhist thought since the Buddha preached his first sermon at the Deer Park, which is often called as the 'first turning of the wheel of dharma.'
The square palace encloses two concentric discs made up of lotus petals. At the centre of the mandala resides the Eleven Headed Thousand Armed Avalokiteshvara, whose essential message is that of compassion, and indeed, his complex iconography is symbolic of this very fact. According to Romio Shrestha: "Compassion sets in motion an exponential multiplication of our powers. We might even feel as though we have the power of a thousand arms, a thousand eyes....." (Just like Avalokiteshvara here).