The Wheel of Life is a presentation of Buddhist teaching on the suffering and is cyclic in form. Essentially it is a metaphysical diagram made up of four concentric circles, held with a firm grip by Yama, the Lord of Death. Above the wheel, the sky with clouds or stars is the symbol of freedom from cyclic existence or Samsara, and the Buddha pointing at it indicates the liberation is possible.
In the center of the wheel, there are three animals symbols of the “Three Poisons”: ignorance (the pig), attachment (the bird), and anger (the snake).
The snake and bird are shown as coming out of the pig, indicating the anger and attachment arise from ignorance. At the same time, the snake and the bird grasp the tail of the pig, indicating that they both promote even greater ignorance.
Next to the central circle is the second concentric circle, the images there represent the Wheel of Karma, the law of cause and effect.
After this layer, there is a wider concentric circle divided into six parts, each depicting a different realm of Samsara. The six realms constitute all possible states of existence in the universe and all being cycle between these states. This circle can be divided into higher realms and lower realms.
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