Wheel of Life
(as it is presented at the Tibetian Mandala
The Wheel of Life:
Eastern vs. Western View
The Wheel of Life is a presentation of the
Buddhist teaching on the suffering and impermanence of cyclic existence.
The Lord of Death, Yama, holds the wheel of
existence between his teeth, hands and feet.
At the centre of the wheel are three poisonous
delusions represented by a red cockerel (passion and lust), a green snake
(hatred and aggression), and a black pig (ignorance and confusion). These
three creatures chase and bite each others tails, giving rise to the endless
cycle or becoming.
In the next circle beings rise to enter the
three higher realms, or fall to enter the three lower realms.
The six realms
are represented within the spokes of the wheel.
The hell realm, in the lower part of the wheel
is characterized by the extreme suffering of the various hot and cold hells.
The hunger ghost or preta realm in the lower left is characterized by
craving and enormous hunger. The denizens of this realm having huge empty
stomachs and mouths like pinholes.
The animal realm is characterized by
extreme stupidity. The jealous gods in the upper left, suffer from
competitiveness and ambition as they strive for the realization of their
The god realms are sensual heavens, where the inhabitants are
totally involved in the pursuit of pleasure.