Digest of terms

Wheel of Life

a verbal expression referring to the onward roll of life, perhaps with the connotation of repeated turning. A similar expression is that of 'the winged chariot of time' or in Pushkin's famous poem of the Coach of Life.

Its most visual expression is that of the Buddhist painting developed in Tibet and known as Bhavacakra - wheel of existence. It is a vivid representation of the relentless round of birth, death and rebirth in the form of a wheel. It is set within the jaws of the Yama, a demonic figure of death and impermanence. Within the wheel are four concentric circles, each containing visual portrayals of different mental and physical states and emotions. At the centre are the snake, pig and cockerel - hatred, ignorance and desire in a continuous and futile chase. Buddha's teaching is a way of escape.

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