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The Wheel of Life - Samsara

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2 The Wheel of Life - Samsara

3 The Wheel of Life - Samsara
The Buddha taught all sentient are caught on the wheel of existence- samsara or mara’s wheel which is divided into six realms. Examine the diagram of the wheel of life and discuss with your group what you think it suggests about existence

4 Six Classes of Sentient Beings
Can you think how each of these states could be considered to be states of mind ?

5 The Three Poisons Greed / desire/ craving –rooster- Hatred - snake
Ignorance/ delusion – pig Each of these are depicted in a circle biting the tail of the one in front. Why do you think they do this ? Why do you think they are called the three poisons ? Give examples of how each of these can lead to harmful consequences .

6 The Three Poisons Tanha – 3 root poisons are all tanha. Tanha is desire that is valued too highly or is directed wrongly. Some desires are positive e.g. wanting the best for someone else or the desire for enlightenment. This kind of desire is described as Chanda to distinguish it from harmful desires.( second of noble truths ) Avijja – ignorance of the reality of how things truly are. This ignorance leads to desire – suffering – samsara Although these two are 2 of the 3 poisons, they underpin all the three poisons.

7 Next to the central circle is a concentric band divided along two halves. One is colored softly and radiantly, while the other is black. The darker portion shows individuals who have chosen the path of darkness and thus descend into gloomy depths. The glowing path, however, is the one taken by those following the righteous way, attaining spiritual ascension. Hence it shows mortals rising towards greater spiritual heights.

8 Interdependent Origination : cause and effect
Buddha taught that everything that exists is due to something that went before. Clearly things have an existence but not a permanent one as they come into being and then cease. Thus things can be said to exist relatively but not ultimately Give examples of where you can see this is true Is this is true of all things ?

9 The twelve links or nidanas showing how cause and effect work
Ignorance -blind man Kammic formations- potter at a wheel Consciousness-monkey up a tree Name and form- 2 travellers in a boat Sensations – an empty house Contact –woman and man embracing Feeling- man with an arrow in his eye Craving – person drinking alcohol Attachment – monkey grasping fruit Being (becoming) - pregnant woman Birth-a woman giving birth Ageing and dying- man carrying a corpse




13 The Wheel of Life - Samsara
From Luminous Emptiness: Understanding the Tibetan Book of the Dead by Francesca Fremantle  "The Buddha described all worldly phenomena as having three characteristics: impermanence, suffering and non-self.  We suffer because we imagine what is not self to be self, what is impermanent to be permanent, and what,  from an ultimate viewpoint, is pain to be pleasure. Existence with these three characteristics is called samsara, which means  Samsara is not the actual external world or life itself, but the way we interpret them.

14 The Wheel of Life - Samsara
Samsara is life as we live it under the influence of ignorance, the subjective world each of us creates for ourselves.  This world contains good and evil, joy and pain, but they are relative, not absolute; they can be defined only in relationship  to each other and are continually changing into their opposites. Although samsara seems to be all-powerful and all-pervading,  it is created by our own state of mind, like the world of a dream, and it can be dissolved into nothingness just like awakening  from a dream. When someone awakens to reality, even for a moment, the world does not disappear  but is experienced in its true nature: pure, brilliant, sacred and indestructible.

15 Samsara is life as we live it under the influence of ignorance, the subjective world each of us creates for ourselves

16 The Wheel of Life - Samsara
Interdependent origination (Skt., pratityasamutpada) is the law of causality, which Shakyamuni discovered at his awakening.  It revealed to him the whole truth of existence, and in penetrating it he became the Awakened One. What he saw was a total vision of how and why all beings throughout space and time are entangled in samsara for countless lives,as well as his own past lives in his progress toward liberation

17 The Wheel of Life - Samsara
This was the extraordinary insight that distinguished his teaching from others, so it is said,  “whoever sees interdependent origination sees the dharma, whoever sees the dharma sees the Buddha.”

18 The Wheel of Life – Samsara Interdependent Origination : cause and effect
According to this law, nothing has independent, permanent, or Absolute Existence. Everything is part of a limitless web of interconnections and undergoes a continual process of transformation.

19 Every appearance arises from complex causes and conditions,  and in turn combines with others to produce countless effects

20 The Wheel of Life – Samsara Interdependent Origination : cause and effect
. By interrupting the causal chain at certain key points,  the course of existence can be altered and effects prevented by eliminating their causes.

21 The Wheel of Life – Samsara Interdependent Origination : cause and effect
This law embraces all the basic principles of Buddhism. (The late Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche said that the whole range of teachings, from the shravakayana to dzogchen, has only the meaning of interdependent origination.) It demonstrates the doctrines of karma and rebirth. The three marks of existence are inherent within it: there is no unchanging self in this process, and it is characterized  by impermanence and suffering, since whatever comes into being must change and pass away.

22 The Wheel of Life – Samsara Interdependent Origination : cause and effect
The four noble truths flow from it:  the first truth is the recognition of inherent suffering; the second truth, the cause of suffering, is shown by the law;  understanding the cause of suffering leads to its cessation, the third truth; therefore, there is a path to liberation, the fourth truth.

23 The twelve links or nidanas
Its best known formulation is the twelve causal links, which has been called the karmic chain reaction.  In the traditional image of the Wheel of Life, it depicts the life, death and rebirth of sentient beings, but it can also be understood as the life cycle of appearances, actions, thoughts or any phenomenon whatever.  Essentially it analyzes the process of an illusion crystallizing out of emptiness and being taken for reality.

24 The twelve links or nidanas
Ignorance (Unawareness) Conditioning, Consciousness, Name and form, the Six Senses, Contact, Feeling, Craving, Grasping, Becoming, Rebirth, Aging and Death   Conditions of samsara, dependent arising:  Ignorance leading to defiled consciousness giving rise to name and form Six senses form contact with phenomenal world and feeling arises along with it. Desire for the phenomenal world follows thus becoming aging death , rebirth Now look at each of these in your workbook and make notes from support material and textbook

25 The Wheel of Life – Samsara Interdependent Origination : cause and effect
The twelve links are: (1) ignorance or unawareness, which imagines self and the world to have intrinsic existence;  (2) conditioning, the karmic forces that ripen in the ground of ignorance from seeds sown in previous lives and form the conditioning factors of the next life; (3) consciousness, arising from conditioning, which carries the sense of self and operates through the mind and senses; (4) name and form, the totality of an individual’s mental and physical constituents;  .

26 The Wheel of Life – Samsara Interdependent Origination : cause and effect
(6) contact, the meeting of the senses with their objects;  (7) feeling, the positive or negative sensations aroused by contact; (8) thirst, the desire to possess or avoid these sensations;  (9) grasping, the physical, verbal or mental action that follows thirst; (10) existence or becoming, the coming into existence that results from grasping; (11) birth, manifesting in one of the six realms; (12) decay and death, the process of aging and  passing away that inevitably follows birth. .

27 The Wheel of Life – Samsara Interdependent Origination : cause and effect
The circle of the twelvefold chain is continuous, a self-contained system without beginning or end. At death we fall back into  ignorance and start all over again. The whole cycle can be contemplated in reverse order, starting with death and tracing its causes back to ignorance. Although the links appear sequentially, they may also be seen as interconnected, simultaneous, and mutually dependent. The wheel is a schematic picture, designed to demonstrate the conditioned and relative nature of apparent existence,  while exposing sentient beings’ intense attachment and habituation to the causes of suffering. .

28 The Wheel of Life – Samsara Interdependent Origination : cause and effect
For significant as life and death may seem, genuine as suffering is, and seriously as we must regard the law of karma,  as long as we remain within samsara, nothing produced by interdependent origination has ultimate reality.  It is an illusion appearing from ignorance, whose nature is the error of belief in self.  Since it has never existed it cannot be destroyed.  It is dispelled only by the wisdom of non-self. Transcending both existence and nonexistence,  it is self-liberated into emptiness, the vast openness of space beyond conceptual thought." .

29 The Wheel of Life – Samsara Interdependent Origination : cause and effect
REALITY, FORM, PERCEPTION, EMPTINESS, AGGREGATES, and the 12 LINKS Everything is conditioned, relative, and interdependent. This is the Buddhist understanding of Emptiness. On this principle of conditionality, relativity and interdependence - the whole existence and continuity of karma, life,  and its cessation are explained in The 12 Links of Interdependent Origination. .

30 The Wheel of Life – Samsara Interdependent Origination : cause and effect
To understand The 12 Links of Interdependent Origination   The "five skandhas" (groups) refer to the physical and mental elements that determine the characteristics of a person. The skandhas are: form, feeling, perception, impulse, and consciousness.  In The Heart Sutra, The Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara told Shariputra that the five skandhas are just Emptiness  (i.e., experienced in daily Relative Reality but non-existent in Absolute Reality). Emptiness refers to the nature or characteristics of the five skandhas, etc.  .

31 The twelve links or nidanas
The 12 Links are also Emptiness.  Although they do exist in our Relative Reality and daily experience, they do not exist in Absolute Reality. "Suffering, the Cause, the Cessation, and the Path to Cessation" are called the Four Noble Truths. In Buddhism, it is deemed that sufferings of human beings stem from attachments or desires (cause). To get rid of sufferings, it is necessary to get rid of attachments or desires (cessation);  and to get rid of causes, it is necessary to follow the right path (Noble Eightfold Path, the Essence of Shakyamuni Buddha's teachings: Right Understanding, Right Thought, Right Speech,  Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Meditation and Right Concentration).  By following the right path with right intent, it is possible to achieve Enlightenment and Liberation. see also The Heart Sutra [Prajna Paramita] of Buddha Shakyamuni

32 The twelve links or nidanas
The key to the Buddha's realization and teaching is the understanding of causality, because it is only when we know the cause of  something that we can truly bring it to an end and prevent it from arising again. In his search for the origin of suffering,  he found that he had to go right back to the very beginning, to the very first flicker of individual self-awareness. 

33 The twelve links or nidanas
In his spiritual practice, too, he always went further and further, never satisfied with the states of knowledge, peace and bliss  that he attained under the guidance of his teachers. He always wanted to know their cause and to see what lay beyond.  In this way, he surpassed his teachers and eventually attained his great awakening. The Buddha awoke to a state of perfect enlightenment, which he described as deathless, unborn and unchanging.  If it were not for that, he said, there could be no escape from birth and death, impermanence and suffering. 

34 The Wheel of Life Check out the following website for an excellent article on the wheel of life

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