The Wheel of Life or Samsara
The Wheel of Life or Samsara was designed by the Buddha Shakyamuni himself as a total explanation of Buddhist teaching. It is one of the earliest historical examples of a visual aid used in teaching to explain the workings of karma.
The Wheel of Life or Samsara is one of the most profound of all the Buddhist teachings for its’ encapsulates. Furthermore, the primary and advanced teachings of Buddhism regarding the subtle realities of life in its reincarnating principles and environments. It contains all the essential teachings of Buddhism. Moreover, it is a most profound instrument of teaching and depiction of the interrelated doctrines of Buddhism. Samsara is often painted at the gate of all the Buddhist Monasteries. The wheel of life is, in fact, a mirror. When we look at it or into it we are in effect looking at ourselves.
We see ourselves in the picture, our heights
The wheel of life has four parts:
The First Circle:
In the center circle, you can see a pigeon which represents desire. A snake which represents hatred and a pig which represent ignorance. These are the root or the cause of suffering in Samsara. These animals are used in the picture because they best represent the animal-like tendencies in our mind. As a result of the mind, it
Desire can have both a negative and positive expression. Here we are concerned with its negative aspect which is rooted in Greed, Hatred
The second circle
The second circle is divided into a white path and black path. This circle
In conclusion, depending on our motivation towards acting with Awareness and compassion, or with a
The third circle
The third circle has six parts which are the six realms. The upper three include the god realms, demi-god realms
This is quite true but there is more to the symbolism of the six segments of the third circle than just this. The six segments of the third circle also represent six states of mind which we can experience here and now, in our present human existence. Sometimes we can experience these states of mind so strongly that for the time being, we seem actually to be living in another world, in heaven or in hell, or among the hungry ghosts etc. It is possible therefore to experience them almost as states of being, rather than just as states of mind. So we can look at each of the six words in this light, as states of mind as well as states of being.
The fourth or the last circle
The fourth or the last circle shows the 12 links of dependent-origination. The wrathful figure that holds the wheel is Yama or the lord of death and it represents impermanence of life. The Buddha taught that if we practice the Dharma we can free ourselves from this wheel of life and attain true happiness; which means to escape the cycle of Samsara.
The Twelve Links of Dependent-Origination The cycle of dependent origination is at the heart of Buddhist teaching that all things are impermanent and nothing has an inherent existence apart from other causes and conditions. The twelve link cycle is illustrated as the outer most ring on the Wheel of Life often drawn in the entrance to many monasteries
.1. Just to the right of the top is a blind man with a walking-stick, representing ignorance of the true nature of the world.
2. Moving clockwise, a potter
3. The monkey climbing a tree represents consciousness or the mind which wanders aimlessly and out of control.
4. Consciousness gives rise to name and form, which is symbolized by people travelling in a boat on the river of life.
5. The next link is an empty house, the doors and windows of which symbolize the developing sense organs. Buddha noted six senses of sight, smell, taste, hearing, touch and thought.
6. The six senses allow us to have contact with the world, which is symbolized by lovers embracing.
7. From contact arise feelings, which we categorize as pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral. Feelings are represented on the wheel as an arrow piercing the eye.
8. From feelings arises desire or attachment to pleasant feelings and experiences, symbolized by a couple falling in love or a man.
9. Desire or attachment leads to grasping for an object of desire, symbolized by a monkey picking fruit.
10. From grasping arises existence represented by a man and a woman making love.
11. Existence culminates in birth (entry into the human realm), which is symbolized by a woman in childbirth.
12. Birth naturally leads to aging and death which is symbolized by an old man carrying a burden. !
You will notice the Wheel of Life and Samsara in all the Buddhist monasteries, temples and hotels in Tibet.