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Nomenclature, orthography, etymology
Mirror (Sanskr. ādarśa, darpaṇa; Tib. me long)
The mirror is an ancient symbol throughout Indian religions. In Indian iconography it may be understood as a symbol for clarity, wholesome or complete perception and 'primordial purity' (Tibetan: ka dag) of the mindstream or consciousness. The mirror is often depicted as an accoutrement of the hagiographical signification of fully realised Mahasiddha, Dzogchenpa and Mahamudra sadhaka. The mirror may be understood as a quality of the mindstream that denotes perceiving experience as it is without obscuration formed by klesha, etc.
The mirror may be engaged in the advanced Tantric sadhana of the Gyulu. As the mirror, so the mind. The mirror as the mind, following Yogacara, reflects quality and form, though is not directly altered and is 'beyond all attributes and form' (Sanskrit: nirguna).
Sawyer (1998: unpaginated) in an essay to accompany curatorial notes for an exhibition and a particular c.19th century xylograph on silk entitled 'Offerings to Mahakala' depicting an 'array of ritual offerings' to the Dharmapala Mahakala, conveys the importance of 'mirror' iconography to Dharmakaya:
The looking glass/mirror (T. me-long, Skt. adarsa), which represents the dharmakaya or Truth Body, having the aspects of purity (a mirror is clear of pollution) and wisdom (a mirror reflects all phenomena without distinction).
The mirror motif is employed pervasively throughout Buddhist literature but it is very important to traditions of Dzoghcen. A number of texts use the mirror motif in their title:
- 'The Mirror of the Heart of Vajrasattva' (Tibetan: རྡོ་རྗེ་སེམས་དཔའ་སྙིང་གི་མེ་ལོང, Wylie: rdo rje sems dpa' snying gi me long) which is one of the Seventeen Tantras of the Upadesha.
- Accoutrement is herein employed in the sense of its etymon: refer, accoutrement.
- The 'array of ritual offerings' should be understood to be within the genre of 'gyan tshok' ("host of ornaments") or 'kangja' ("materials for the banquet"). The "banquet" being the ganacakra.
- Sawyer, Chad (1998, 2004). Offerings to Mahakala. Source:  (accessed: Saturday March 14, 2009)
- Authorship unattributed (2006). Tibetan Buddhist Symbolism.  (accessed: November 9, 2007)
- Bentor, Yael (1995). 'On the symbolism of the mirror in Indo-Tibetan consecration rituals.' Journal of Indian Philosophy. Vol 23, No.1, March 1995. ISSN 0022-1791 (Print) ISSN 1573-0395 (Online)
- Dusan Pajin (1996). "The Mirror and the Source: Hua-yen Philosophy and Chinese Landscape Design." International Review of Chinese Religion & Philosophy. Vol. 1, March 1996, pp.1-28.