The idea of mandala seems extraordinarily abstract. We see it as a metaphysical or philosophical principle. We cannot learn anything about it unless we see how the mandala principle is connected with a learning process or a practicing process. The Sanksrit word mandala literally means “association” or “society.” The Tibetan word khilkhor means “center and fringe.” Mandala is a way of looking at situations in terms of relativity: if that exists, this exists. If this exists, that exists. Things exist interdependently, and that interdependent existence of things happens in the fashion of orderly chaos. We have domestic orderly chaos, and we have the emotional orderly chaos of a love affair. We have spiritual orderly chaos, and even the attainment of enlightenment has an orderly chaos of its own.
From "The Razor's Edge," in Orderly Chaos: The Mandala Principle, page 15.