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The Wheel of Life

An Illustrated Journey Through the Bhavachakra

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The rich iconography of the Wheel of Life can be interpreted on several levels. The six major sections represent the Six Realms. These realms can be understood as forms of existence, or states of mind, into which beings are born according to their karma. The realms also can be viewed as situations in life or even personality types -- hungry ghosts are addicts; devas are privileged; hell beings have anger issues.

In each of the realms the Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara appears to show the way to liberation from the Wheel. But liberation is possible only in the human realm. From there, those who realize enlightenment find their way out of the Wheel to Nirvana.

The gallery shows sections of the Wheel and explains them in more detail.

Images 1-11 of 11
BhavachakraThe Wheel of Life: Yama and Wheel of LifeThe Wheel of Life: Yama, Lord of the UnderworldGods Realm BhavachakraThe Wheel of Life: The Realm of the GodsRealm of AsurasThe Wheel of Life: The Realm of Asuras
Hungry Ghost RealmThe Wheel of Life: The Realm of Hungry GhostsThe Hell RealmThe Wheel of Life: The Hell RealmAnimal RealmThe Wheel of Life: The Animal RealmHuman RealmThe Wheel of Life: The Human Realm
Center Wheel of LifeThe Wheel of Life: The CenterThe BuddhaThe Wheel of Life: The BuddhaNirvanaThe Wheel of Life: The Door to Nirvana
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