In Chinese mythology, the dragon is regarded as a guardian creature. It guards the realm between heaven and earth and it has been said that dragons come down to man with helpful messages. In this painting, Chi-Jen Liu combines the dragon with the constellation – a phenomena he calls "Code of the Dragon." He says when golden dragons are formed by the alignment of the stars, it is a message from heaven: "Cosmic forces encourage you to call for divine assistance, make your wishes known, and have no fear."
The top of the painting depicts a sky that is filled with clouds and stars. Stars remind us of endless space, of light in darkness, of hope and dreams. The swirls of clouds represent the shifting energies that manifest positive changes. In Taoist philosophy, nature is intelligent and benevolent. Through meditation and practicing the ancient techniques of mantra prayer, you open yourself to receive protection, comfort and peace of mind.
The pine trees along the bottom of the painting are symbols of longevity and wisdom. These types of trees are sturdy and survive in harsh environments. Chi-Jen Liu often portrays pine trees in his work because they are nature's way of reminding us to cultivate moral character and physical strength so that we, too, can withstand challenges and gather life wisdom.
The figures in the center of the painting play an important role in explaining the artist's message. Their interaction is elevated upon a stage made of golden steps hewn out of mountain rocks. The kneeling man represents humility, diligence and virtue. We can imagine the long journey he has taken to find this sanctuary hidden inside a valley of waterfalls. The nobleman represents help from higher realms. He has been waiting for the pilgrim's arrival to grant him with a boon. Chi-Jen Liu presents their relationship in a storybook-like fashion and explains his intentions plainly. His poem says: "Create a shield of moral character. Call upon heavenly emperors. Code of dragon clouds surround and embrace you with an ocean of protection."