First, notice the pattern of the Kongokai Mandala. It is a square composed of nine squares. Each square contains icons which represent specific characteristics. However, these icons are not pertinent to the aspect of the Kongokai being discussed. What is important to note is that the pattern begins with the center square and moves, sequentially, down one square to the center bottom and then to the left, continuing radially, and ending with the right bottom square. For clarity, number the squares one through nine. The corresponding steps in the pattern are outlined below:
1. Focus. This step is critical. It is the formulation of the objective.
2. Refinement. The process of crystallizing the objective or goal.
3. Visualization. The evoking a tactile perception of the objective.
4. Research. Acquisition of necessary knowledge.
5. Action. Taking steps toward the goal.
6. Counsel. Seeking "kuden."
7. Opposition. Expect people or circumstances to oppose our progress toward the goal.
8. Perseverance. Enduring necessary hardships and opposition.
9. Realization of the goal.
These nine steps are contained within the iconography of the Kongokai Mandala and form the pattern for achievement in any area of life. But, there is danger in this formula. Indeed, the formula does not "care" whether your objectives are positive or negative in nature. And, one can inadvertently bring destruction on oneself by meditating on the negative. For example, if you think, "I'm not going to eat a candy bar today," it is almost certain that you will. Also, be aware, that the above is merely an outline. For a full understanding of this pattern, you must seek "kuden" from a mature nin-po practitioner.
Finally, and most importantly, notice that a crimson boarder surrounds this depiction of the Kongokai Mandala. For me, this is a perfect representation regarding the limits of all human endeavor. Though the pattern of action in the mandala is powerful, it is powerless to grant ultimate enlightenment or peace. The boarder is representative of Divine Revelation. No matter how hard you try or how much you meditate, you will never come to a true enlightenment. The mandala is circumscribed by universal truth, laws that temper the potential of human achievement. It is circumscribed as a result of our corrupted natures. Ultimately, the result of all human endeavor, apart from Divine sanction, is vanity. "Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it. Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher; all is vanity." (Ecclesiastes 12: 7,8) Indeed, what does it profit you if you gain the whole world but loose your soul? Without the mind and eyes of God, shin-i-shingan, you cannot appropriately understand the contents of the first square. Everything else is merely a vain struggle against the inevitable of death. Without the knowledge that God is and that He has spoken, all degrades into a black nihilism. Without the personal appropriation Christ's crimson atonement all, including your very soul, is lost. This is why the Kongokai Mandala must be understood in relation to the Divine. You see, the shin-i-shingan are the Scriptures and they teach us that we must first know Him.
"That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from everyone of us: For in him we live, and move, and have our being." (Acts 17: 27,28)