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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
  1. The Wheel of Life: Bhavachakra
  2. The Wheel of Life: Yama, Lord of the UnderworldYama and Wheel of Life
  3. The Wheel of Life: The Realm of the GodsGods Realm Bhavachakra
  4. The Wheel of Life: The Realm of AsurasRealm of Asuras
  5. The Wheel of Life: The Realm of Hungry GhostsHungry Ghost Realm
  6. The Wheel of Life: The Hell RealmThe Hell Realm
  7. The Wheel of Life: The Animal RealmAnimal Realm
  8. The Wheel of Life: The Human RealmHuman Realm
  9. The Wheel of Life: The CenterCenter Wheel of Life
  10. The Wheel of Life: The BuddhaThe Buddha
  11. The Wheel of Life: The Door to NirvanaNirvana
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