Dharma Quote from Snow Lion Publications

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Dharma Quote of the Week

A common [Tibetan Buddhist] motif is the “Wheel of Life,” symbolizing the workings of cyclic existence. This is frequently found at the doorway to a main assembly hall and serves to remind the inhabitants of the dangers of mundane existence. This striking image has a large central circle divided into two halves. The top half has three sections, representing the three “happy transmigrations”–humans, demi-gods, and gods. The lower half also has three sections, indicative of the three bad transmigrations–animals, hungry ghosts, and hell beings. A pigeon symbolizes the mental affliction of desire, a snake represents hatred, and a pig–symbol of ignorance–holds the tails of the first two in its mouth. These three afflictions are the primary factors that bind people to cyclic existence, causing them to transmigrate helplessly from birth to birth.

The theme of cause and effect is further illustrated by twelve sections around the rim of the wheel, symbolizing the twelve links of dependent arising (a summary of the process of transmigration). The whole wheel is held in the jaws of the Lord of Death, indicating that death is inevitable for those who are caught up in this cycle. Outside of the wheel are buddhas and bodhisattvas, often shown teaching the dharma, which provides an avenue of escape for those who are perceptive enough to recognize this and follow their instructions. (p.239)

–from Introduction to Tibetan Buddhism by John Powers, published by Snow Lion Publications

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