Buddhism and Meditation

Tibetan Wheel of Life (week 5)

At our last meeting the Milton Keynes Meditation Association continued our exploration and discussion around the Wheel of Life – a rich tapestry of images and symbolism decsribing the working of the mind in raltion to the Buddhist Path.

This time we were exploring the Animal Realm. Here are the notes from the meeting:

Some Key Features


The Experience

  • The surrender to a blind destiny of basic necessities and uncontrollable instincts.
  • The need for food, shelter & reproduction predominate here.
  • A realm of fear (Tho’ Nature, red in tooth and claw – Tennyson)
  • A realm of persecution – animals of burden or harvested for meat.

The Upside

When the basic needs are met the animals are satisfied, tame, gentle and docile.

The Downside

When the basic needs are not met they can become wild and vicious.

Lack of higher consciousness – self awareness. That special consciousness that separates human beings from the rest of the animal kingdom.

Expressions in the Human Realm

  • Easily satisfied, content once our basic human comforts have been met.
  • Obsession with the affairs of the body (food, sex, comfort) & shelter – home building
  • A quiet life of home comforts with little interest in personal growth.

The Buddha of this Realm & His Symbol

The blue Buddha called “Steadfast Lion” – his symbol is a book.

What Needs to be done to make progress in this Realm

Overcome the cause – Ignorance (a lack of self awareness and sloth)


  • The book represents speech, knowledge, higher culture and reflective thought; things that can liberate them from their subconscious drives and sluggish undeveloped minds.


  • The path out of the animal realm is a path of education and culture, a process of gradual refinement raising the level of consciousness, making interest in spiritual matters possible.


  • As we refine our awareness we become more self conscious – more aware of ourselves as individuals, rather than just being part of the pack.


  • With self consciousness comes a sense that more is possible – a desire for meaning, personal growth & development.

Positive Seeds, Negative Seeds & Buddha Seeds

Positive Seeds (Red) – Good Karma – very little – they are not having such a good time

Negative Seeds (Black) – Bad Karma – lots – predominant

Buddha Seeds (Gold) – just a few – about twice as many as the red seeds



The mentally sluggish animals need gently awakening and raising in consciousness.


Opposite the Titans on the wheel. Compare to the Titans who are High Energy – little chance of awakening – a path of direct insight or none at all. Quite opposite in nature.


The animals are more receptive (the Titans think they know best), they have potential for development, they just need to become aware of it and raise their sights above the level of mundane comforts.


The Path of Renunciation


The giving up some worldly possessions or activities.


  • Can be wrongly interpreted as “acting holy” or the shunning of pleasure for the sake of a pure austerity.


  • One of the main purposes of renunciation is simply to clear away some of the mundane and unnecessary distractions of life that we can so easily get caught up in.


  • Makes space for meditation and reflection – giving priority to what is the most important.