The components of the mandala consists of four components. There is the outer gates, the outer mandala petals, the inner mandala and the center.
The Outer Gates
Each of the four directions manifest as an element. The elements of Water, Earth, Fire and Air are the basic building blocks of our human lives and the lives of all living beings on the planet.
East - Water
At the top of the mandala is the Element water is this case we are using the Tantric color white to represent the water element. The water element is essential for life forms on our planet. This element also relates to our Water Chakra, called Svadisthana.
South - Earth
The red gate represents the element Earth. All beings are dependent upon the Earth for survival. All beings have bodies that cause them to appear as individual existences. From an evolutionary prospective life emerged from the Oceans on to the Land. The element Earth also relates to our Earth Charka or Muladhara.
West - Fire
The yellow gate represents the element Fire. In this case we are referring metaphorically to the Sun. It is from the Sun that all beings receive light and warmth. The Sun is like a loving mother that provides all inhabitants of our planet with light unconditionally.
North - Air
In the northern corner is the element of Air as the green color. Air referred to the atmosphere. This consists of an exchange between human beings, animals and the plants. In forest trees and planets give off oxygen while processing carbon dioxide. This creates a natural cycle of existence between humans and animals. We are dependent upon oxygen for our breath, just as we are dependent on Water, Earth, and Fire for our existence.
The Outer and Inner Mandala Petals
The outer petals carry the Sanskit consonants while the inner petals carry the 16 Sanskrit vowels. Together these are know as Ali Kali. These is an essence teaching behind all of Hindu and Buddhist tantras. In the Chakra section we have explored the placement of the vowels and consonants on the petals of the Chakra tree. In this section we will explore Ali Kali as a mandala manifestation.
All of the Sanskrit sounds originate from the sound OM which is in the center of the mandala radiating outwards. From this emanation of the sacred sound OM emerges the 16 vowels.
The Sixteen Vowels
These represent the 16 Emptiness or Voids of Space. The important aspect of Buddha's teachings is that all things are empty of indpendent existience. In the Sanskrit language all sounds emanating from OM begin with the root sound A. It is this root sound which is the cause of all other sounds to manifest. A is the simplest sound, it is considered the base sound. In understanding that A is the base we can possibly grasp some idea of the spacious nature of all things. This is the idea behind the 16 Emptinesses or Voids of Space.
Relationship to the Vishudda Chakra is found in it's associated 16 petals and it's sky blue color. The nature of all existence is like the blue sky, vast and spacious in nature. It is within this frame work that the 16 Emptinesses are presented as meditations on the nature of things. The following chart provides the basic meanings of the 16 Emptinesses.