Samye Liberation Gate
The gate is modelled on the
traditional entrance gate found in monasteries in Tibet. The
construction of the gate is similar in design to that of the
immeasurable palace found within a peace mandala. The mandala itself
is painted on the ceiling.
On top of the copper roof of
the gate with its jewel adornments is a Dharma wheel flanked by two
deer. The wheel represents the First turning of the wheel of Dharma
or, in other words, the Buddha's first teaching of the Four Noble
Truths. He gave this teaching at Deer Park in Sarnath, India, to the
five ascetics who had previously practiced austerities with him. As he
began this teaching, two deer appeared from the forest and sat down
next to him. Consequently, the wheel with two deer on either side has
become symbolic of the Buddha's teaching.
On top of the pillars
of the gate on the horizontal beam just beneath the ceiling are several
Sanskrit mantras (prayers) with special meanings. On the south side of
the beam as you enter the gate from the public road, there is a prayer
in tribute to the Three Jewels the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha and also the six-syllable mantra Om mani pemay hung of Chenrezig,
the Great Bodhisattva of Compassion. On the inner side of the same
beam is a special Chenrezig mantra referred to as the King of Mantras
because it is foretold that all those who walk beneath it will become
enlightened at some point in the future.
On the left side of
the gate, facing east, is the Buddha mantra. On the inside of the same
beam is the mantra of Vajrapani, one of the high bodhisattvas, who is
connected with the power of virtuous action.
On the right
side of the gate facing west is the mantra of Guru Rinpoche or
Padmasambhava, the founder of Buddhism in Tibet. On the inside of this
beam is the mantra of Manjushri, another high bodhisattva, who is
connected with wisdom.
On the back of the gate, facing north, is
the mantra of emptiness found in the Heart Sutra. On the inside of
this beam is once again the special mantra of Chenrezig. Also on the
inside of this beam are Sanskrit syllables denoting the names of the
five archetypal Buddhas.
Just beneath the ceiling, below the
Sanskrit prayers, are various symbolic paintings. In the four corners
at the top of the pillars are paintings of the different animals who
appeared in a dream to the great meditator saint, Milarepa, foretelling
the future of the Kagyu Lineage. On the inside of the pillars further
down, are other animals carved into the sides of the pillars, all of
whom have a protective function in warding off negative influences. You
can see a white yak, a white hawk and a black scorpion, all of which
are different manifestations of Nyenchen Tangla, a mythical king. You
can also see also a black crow, symbolising Mahakala, the principal
protector within the Karma Kagyu tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. A protector is a manifestation of enlightened energy that wards off and
transforms obstacles and negative conditions. The Karma Kagyu
tradition is the spiritual lineage of Samye Ling. At the bottom of the
pillars are paintings of four great kings who are guardians of the four
directions and ward off negative forces.
Next to the gate are
two white urns where special fires are lit to make welcoming aromatic
smoke to honour senior lamas as they arrive at Samye Ling.