Tibet Highland Expedition

Wheel Of Life

The Wheel of Life (Sipa Khorlo in Tibetan), depicted in the entryway to most monasteries,is an aid to realising the delusion of the mind,a complex pictorial representation of how desire chains us to samsara,the endless cycle of birth, death and rebirth.

The Wheel is held in the mouth of Yama,the lord of Death.The inner circle of interdependent desire shows a cockerel (representing desire or attachement) biting a pig (ignorance or delusion),biting a snake (hatred or anger).A second ring is divided into figures ascending through the realms on the left and descending on the right.

The six inner sectors of the wheel symbolise the six realms of rebirth_gods,battling demigods,and humans (the upper realms),and hungry ghosts,hell and animals (the lower realms),All the beings are reborn through this cycle dependent upon their Karma (Fate).The Buddha is depicted outside the wheel,symbolising his release into a state of nirvana.

At the bottom of the wheel are hot and cold hells,where Yama holds a mirror that reflects one's lifetime.A demon to the side holds a scle with black and white pebbles,weighing up the good and bad deeds of one's lifetime.

The hungry spirits are recogbisable by their huge stomachs,thin needle-like necks and tiny mouths,which cause them insatiable hungry and thirst.in each realm the buddha attempts to convey his teaching (the dharma),offering hope to each realm.

The 12 outer segments depict the so-called 12 links of dependent orgination,and the 12 of interlinked,co-dependent and causal experiences life that perpetuate the cycle of samsara.
The 12 images (whose order may vary) are of a blind woman (representing ignorance),a potter (unconscious will),a monkey (consciousness),men in a boat (self-consciousness),a house(the five senses),lovers (contact),a man with an arrow in his eye (feeling),a drinking scene(desire),a figure grasping fruit from a tree (greed), pregnancy,birth and death (a man carrying a corpse to a sky burial).could be followed by taking the Noble Eightfold path,The philosophical underpinnings of this path were the Four Noble truths,which addressed the problems of Karma and rebirth.this basic concepts are the kernel of early Buddhist thought.

Life is a cycle of rebirth.The common assumption is that there are many rebirths,but in Buddhist thought they are innumerable.The Sanskrit word 'samsara' {Tibetan: khorwa},literally 'wandering on', is used to describe this cycle, and life is seen as wandering on limitlessly though time, and through the birth, extinction and rebirth of galaxies and worlds. There are six levels of rebirth or realms of existence. It is important to accumulate enough merit to avoid the three lower realms, although in the long cycle of rebirth , all beings pass through them at some point. These six levels are depicted on the Wheel of life. All beings are fated to tread this wheel continuously until they make a commitment to enlightenment.

All beings pass through the same cycle of rebirths.Their enemy may once have been their mother,and like all beings they have lived as an insect and as a god,and suffered in one of the hell realms. Movement within this cycle,though, is not haphazard.It is governed by karma.
Karma is a slippery concept.It is sometimes translated simply as 'action',but it also implies the consequences of action. Karma might be thought of as an overarching condition of life. Every action in life leaves a psychic trace that carries over into the next rebirth. It should not be thought of as a reward or punishment, but simply as a result. In Buddhist thought karma is frequently likened to a seed that ripens into a fruit: thus a human reborn as an insect is harvesting the fruits of a previous immoral existence.

Given that karma is a kind of accumulated psychic baggage that we must lug through countless rebirths, is the aim of all practicing Buddhists to try to accumulate as much 'good karma' merit-as possible.Merit is best achieved through the act of rejoicing is giving that is purely motivated by a desire for merit.The giving of alms to the needy and to monks, the relinquishing of a son to monkhood,acts of compassion and understanding are all meritorious and have positive karmic outcome.

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