Buddhism and Meditation

Tibetan Wheel of Life (Week 1)

Wheel of Life by Dh. Aloka


Yesterday the MK Meditation Association met to meditate together and to discuss The Tibetan Wheel of Life.

Here are the notes from the class:



  • A multi dimensional symbol
  • Symbols convey information – but not in a rational way – communicate in a different language – poetry, myth & archetype
  • Symbols speak directly to the unconscious
  • A teaching from the Mahayana phase of Buddhism


Sun & Moon


Found in many Thankga paintings


  • The Moon symbolizes the masculine aspect of Compassion
  • The Sun symbolizes the feminine aspect of Wisdom
  • They appear together balanced in unity (like Yin/Yang)




The red demon holding the wheel is Yama – the Gate Keeper of the Hell Realms

Be-fanged, 3 eyed and wrathful.

A manifestation of the gentle and compassionate Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara.


  • Wrathful figures are about liberated energy – turning repressed or unskillful energy to the good – a process of psychic/emotional alchemy
  • Yama dares us to look closer, to use wheel as a mirror into our own mind.
  • Although wrathful he urges us to see things as they are for our own benefit out of compassion for the suffering our misunderstanding brings us.


The Wheel as a Mirror


  • Reflects back to us the nature and contents of our own mind.
  • Take a look – Which realm does your mind occupy right now?
  • What is driving your mind?
  • Knowing where our mind is helps us to know what we need to do in order to grow or change.
  • The Wheel is divided into 4 concentric circles or 4 levels of meaning.


1/ The Hub – contains the three poison drives (trivisa)


  • The Cock – Greed (Lobha) –– intense pecking at the ground, always looking for more
  • The Snake – Hatred (Dvesa) – cold and poisonous
  • The Pig – Delusion (Moha) – spiritual ignorance. This is an unawareness of our true nature and situation. A desire to hide from the ways things are.


Each animal bites the others tail – conditioning and reinforcing each other

Going around and around they power the wheel of life – conditioned existence – Samsara.


Spiritual Ignorance is said to be the root cause, the first conditioning factor – from this arise greed and hatred or attraction/repulsion.


2/ The Black/White Circle


  • Positive and Negative Karma (action).
  • We have a  choice of paths.
  • One is conscious – ethical and creative
  • One lacks ethical awareness is reactive and unmindful


  • White Path – happy beings – led upwards to a favourable rebirth
  • Black Path – unhappy beings, naked and bound being dragged down to lower rebirths


3/ The 6 Realms


In Traditional cultures these have two levels of meaning:


  • A Literal Realm of Rebirth – where we take rebirth after our death
  • Our Mental States – how we experience the world due to our state of mind


How do we relate to these realms and the idea of a literal rebirth? Is it important to us?


  • God Realm
  • Asura/Titan Realm (the Anti-Gods)
  • Human Realm
  • Animal Realm
  • Hungry Ghost Realm
  • Hell Realm


4/ The 12  Conditioned Links (Nidanas)


The unfoldment of unenlightened life (being bound to the Wheel) and the possibility of Freedom (the heart of the Buddha’s Teaching) can be seen through these 12 conditioning factors of Dependant Arising.