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The Wheel of Dharma is loaded with symbols representing the Buddhist view of life and its doctrines. The fearsome deity who turns it is Yama, Lord of Death; he is symbolic of life’s impermanence and the inevitable end all beings must face. This is nothing to feel depressed about, for the Buddha stands outside the wheel, pointing to the moon, which symbolizes spiritual liberation.
The inner circle shows a pig, snake and rooster who represent the three great delusions of greed, hatred and ignorance respectively. In the centre is the ring of karma. To its left are beings graduating to higher planes of existence because of following the path of virtue; the beings to the right are destined to rebirth as baser forms of life, owing to their misdeeds.
The Wheel’s middle ring has two halves. The upper half contains spiritually evolved beings – gods, demigods and human beings, while the lower half depicts lowly creatures like animals, ravenous ghosts and fiends. The outermost circle graphically portrays 12 varied life situations. A blind man with a cane represents our ignorance of the realities of life. A potter at work is synonymous with man shaping his own destiny through his karma. Another series of figures symbolize the path of life from contact to feelings to desire, followed birth which inevitably leads to aging and death.