Tantric Buddhism involves the meditative visualization of complex mandalas filled with diverse deities. Even subtle differences between the most basic elements can carry significant meaning. The slideshows below illustrate some of the foundational steps of mandala visualization.
Abhidharma Cosmos Arising
Mandala generation sequences can be closely related to cosmogonic processes, such as this brief version of the origin of the world described in the abhidharma literature.
A Yoga Tantra Generation
Some mandala generations involve dissolving the ordinary universe and re-creating it with successive layers of elements, eventually establishing the mandala palace atop the peak of Mount Sumeru at the center of the world.
Vajrabhairava Mandala Generation
A Vajrabhairava mandala generation imagines the elements differently and includes a wheel of protection surrounding the mandala palace.
Kalacakra Mantra, the Powerful Ten
The Kalacakra or Wheel of Time system presents a similar array of cosmological elements in the form of stacked syllables. The details of this system are extraordinarily complex and not open to easy interpretation.