Five directional Buddhas are found throughout regions of Asia influenced by Lightning Vehicle thought.
Given this profusion of Buddhas, philosophers adopted the graphic form of the mandala as a framework for organizing and guiding complex meditation. They then mapped an older Buddhist psychological system, focused on "poisons" (klesha), onto the mandala. In the resultant mandala-based system, every being is dominated by one of five "poisons": aversion, attraction, pride, jealousy, and delusion.
The predominance of a poison in any given being's psychological makeup determines that being’s Buddha family; this family is headed by the directional Buddha best tuned to transmute the poison into a corresponding "wisdom"—respectively, the mirror-like wisdom, penetrating wisdom, equality wisdom, accomplishment wisdom, and vision-of-reality wisdom.
Meditators work their way through the mandala by repeating verbal formulas (mantras) and physical gestures (mudras) thought to encapsulate each Buddha’s transmuting power. In so doing, practitioners of the Lightning Vehicle hope to realize enlightenment rapidly, "in this very life," instead of through long practice required by mainstream forms of Buddhism.