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Snakes Roosters and Pigs – Oh My – Symbols Themes And Teachings of the Tibetan Wheel of Life
Every day we turn the wheel of life and they are samsaric mechanisms. Like gears in a delusional clock we blindly circle his karmic center as we move from one realm of life to another. This is the fundamental teaching described in the Buddhist paradigm known as the “Wheel of Life.” Within its rays are recounted the twelve links of dependent origin. Each link is an apparent state that defers only to the degree of unhappiness or dissatisfaction.
The “Wheel” symbolizes the Buddhist perspective on a life lived in ignorance of the ultimate truth. He is held tightly by the claws of ‘Yama’, an angry deity known as the ‘Lord of Death’. It is the manifestation of Samsara. the seemingly endless cycle of reincarnation. Outside the Wheel stands the Buddha as a guide showing the way to liberation.
To understand the teaching, it is best to begin your examination at its center where the three roots of delusion are located. The first is hatred, symbolized by a snake, the second ignorance personified by a rooster, and the third greed represented by a pig. Around the central node is a ring representing the karmic states of existence. The figures on the left ascend to higher realms of existence, due to virtuous deeds, as the figures on the right descend to lower realms, due to evil or ignorant deeds.
Moving outward the next ring is the largest and is divided by six spokes. Within each section are depicted the six spheres of phenomenal experience. The upper half, from left to right, depicts the three higher realms of existence. humans, demigods and gods. The lower half depicts the three lower realms. animals, hungry ghosts and creatures of hell. It may be helpful to think of these spheres as metaphorical examples of mental states.
Within each section is depicted a different realm in which sentient beings are reborn. divas, gods or demigods (a demigod is described as an antigod or jealous god), humans, animals (sentient beings from whales to insects), hungry ghosts (depicted as having a tiny mouth with a large stomach – they can never fulfill hunger) , beings of hell (there are eight different hells possible and each is a product of the mind). These divisional realms relate to six distinct mental conditions: Pride and jealousy fall within the realm of gods and demigods. People are affected by five disturbing emotions. naivety, arrogance, longing, jealousy and anger. The lower animal kingdoms, hungry ghosts and hellish beings are associated with ignorance, desire and anger.
Beyond this is the supreme ring which pictorially describes the twelve stages of ‘dependent origination’. The first stage expresses fundamental ignorance of the true nature of sentient beings. He is depicted as a blind man with a cane. Moving clockwise around the wheel, the functions of karma follow. It is embodied by the image of a potter molding a vessel, (the shaping of destiny). Then the aimless wanderings of the mind are expressed with a monkey climbing a tree, swinging from branch to branch without thinking.
The further advancement of the concept of self-consciousness gives rise to self-awareness, (name and form). This is illustrated by the image of people traveling in a boat on a river. The next stage is reflected in an image of an empty house with its doors and windows open. This symbolizes the developing sense organs. sight, smell, taste, hearing, touch and thought. These senses, in turn, allow us to make contact with the world around us, as illustrated by the image of lovers embracing. Categorization of feelings results from contact. pleasant, unpleasant or neutral. This is depicted as an arrow piercing an eye. Emotions give rise to desire or attachment depicted by a couple falling in love (sometimes depicted as a man drinking alcohol). Clinging leads to the grasping seen by a monkey (the mind) picking fruit. Apparent existence arises from conception. This is depicted by a man and a woman making love. Existence spontaneously culminates in birth, the entry into the samsaric realm, expressed by a woman in childbirth. Finally, birth naturally leads to aging and death symbolized as an old man carrying a burden.
This is the only teaching that the Buddha wrote on his own hand. By drawing the diagram in the sand, he reinforced the essential principle that all phenomena are merely temporary. At first glance teaching presents a rather bleak picture. However, within its structure are lessons that inspire awareness. It is this awakening that leads to complete liberation from what seems to be the almost eternal entrapment of mindless wandering. We are the dreamers lost in our own dreams and unaware that we are dreaming. Understanding and recognizing our individual roles and participation in this system empowers each of us to discover the innate freedom that lies dormant within us. ourselves Bodi.
The man stopped and asked the Buddha,
“My friend, what are you? Are you a celestial being or a god?”
– “No,” replied the Buddha.
“So are you some kind of wizard or sorcerer?”
Again the Buddha replied, “No.”
“You are a man?” – “No.”
“Well, my friend, then what are you?”
The Buddha replied, “I am awake.”
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