A mandala is a spiritual symbol which represents the cosmos, a microcosm of the universe from the human perspective. The Sanskrit word ‘mandala’ originated long ago in the Rig Veda, as the term for a chapter, a collection of mantras or verse hymns chanted in Vedic ceremonies, perhaps coming from the sense of round, as in a round of songs. The universe was believed to originate from these hymns, whose sacred sounds contained geometric patterns.
A Sri Yantra is a type of mandala with geometric patterns. Sri Yantra literally means loom, instrument or machine. In actual practice, a yantra is a symbolic representation of aspects of divinity, the creative forces of the universe. It is an interlocking matrix of geometric figures, circles, triangles and floral patterns that form fractal patterns of elegance and beauty. These visual patterns can have a powerful effect on the mind. Just as primordial sounds, or mantras, can be useful in balancing our mind and body through hearing, primordial shapes can generate increased coherence in our brains, creating a balancing and calming influence. In cultures around the world, beautiful visual patterns are used to quiet a restless mind.
Sri Yantra Meditation
As you look at the yantra, allow your eyes to focus on its center. This dot in the center is called the Bindu, which represents the unity that underlies all the diversity of the physical world.
Now allow your eyes to see the triangle that encloses the bindu. The downward pointing triangle represents the feminine creative power, while the upward facing triangle represents male energy.
Allow your vision to expand to include the circles outside of the triangles. They represent the cycles of cosmic rhythms. The image of the circle embodies the notion that time has no beginning and no end. The farthest region of space and the innermost nucleus of an atom both pulsate with the same rhythmic energy of creation. That rhythm is within you and without you.
Bring your awareness to lotus petals outside the circle. Notice that they are pointing outwards, as if opening. They illustrate the unfolding of our understanding. The lotus also represents the heart, the seat of the Self. When the heart opens, understanding comes.
The square at the outside of the yantra represents the world of form, the material world that our senses show us, the illusion of separateness, of well defined edges and boundaries. At the periphery of the figure are four T-shaped portals, or gateways. Notice that they point toward the interior of the yantra, the inner spaces of life. They represent our earthly passage from the external and material to the internal and sacred.
Now take a moment to gaze into the yantra, letting the different shapes and patterns emerge naturally, allowing your eyes to be held loosely in focus. Gaze at the center of the yantra on the page. Without moving your eyes, gradually begin to expand your field of vision. Continue expanding your vision until you are taking in information from greater than 180 degrees. Notice that all this information was there all along, you just became aware of it. Now slowly reverse the process by re-focusing back to the center of the yantra. Now gently close your eyes. You may still see the yantra in your mind’s eye. The patterns of creativity represented by these primordial shapes express the fundamental forces of nature. They govern the world and they govern you.