Friday, 1 February 2008

The Wheel of Life - The Symbolic Six Worlds

The first of these transitory worlds is the abode of the so-called Gods. It is a temporal paradise achieved by good deeds, and it is illustrated in the uppermost sections of the Wheel. Here the Buddha with the lute is seen reminding the gods of their limited pleasures and guarding them against vanity and haughtiness, which encourages them to believe in their own imperishability. But these gods are not yet freed from sorrow;they too, after thousands of human years, are subject to old age and death. Their special suffering is the illusion of the eternity of their paradisal state: their misery lies in their eventual comprehension of the error.

In the upper half of the wheel, the World of Men is depicted: driven by egoism and ignorance, they suffer from the permanently repeated cycle of birth, sickness and death.
( The Buddha with the Begging bowl of a wandering monk comes to help them)

In the lower half of the wheel, the World of Animals illustrates their special suffering: oppression by the other beings. The devour each other and become beasts of burden.
( Here the Buddha holding a book appears to the animals)

The last world follows with the cold and hot hells. They are places of torment for all those who have committed evil deeds out of hatred and anger. But this infernal life, however long, is not eternal;after atoning for sins, rebirth into a better world is always possible. In the World of Hells an assistant of the Lord of the Dead weighs the deeds of the deceased who are entering his kingdom, but this is administrative work because the fate of the dead has already been decided by themselves.
(Here the Buddha appears, bearing a flame to bring light and hope to these darkest regions)

The fifth world is the realm of the insatiable, greedy ghost, suffering from hunger and thirst which they can neither appease nor quench; they present a ghastly picture with tightened throats and bloated bellies.
(Here the Buddha appears with a jar of nectar for the hungry ghosts)

To the right, the World of Titans is illustrated: they are permanently warring against the gods and fighting for the fulfillment of their desires; their suffering is the endless war, the result of envy and insatiable ambition.
(Here the Buddha appears with a flaming sword, and ministers to the titans)

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eckhart tolle