At the moment we are meditating on the diagram of the Wheel of Life – the sublime work of art that reveals the entire path to liberation and enlightenment. There are many works of art in the world that people gaze at, and spend lots of money on, but there is no other work of art that conveys the same meaning as the diagram of the Wheel of Life.
At the centre at the wheel of life there is there are three animals – a pig, a snake and a bird. These represent the three mental poisons of ignorance, anger and attachment. Around this hub is a circle in which are six beings. Half the wheel is white and shows three beings moving upwards to a higher rebirth as a human, god or demi-god in their next life. The other half of the wheel is dark and shows three beings moving downwards to a lower rebirth as an animal, hungry ghost or hell being in their next life.
This reveals the fate of all sentient beings following their death. There is no escape from death – it will definitely happen, and when it does, living beings must face their destiny. They have no freedom to remain in their current life and no choice as to where the winds of their karma will blow them.
I thought about how our lives seem so settled and permanent. This is because all that we can remember has occurred within this one lifetime. It seems to us that this life is all that there is. But when we consider our past and future lives, it seems that we are in a constant shifting relationship with everything and everyone around us. We are in a sort of whirlpool of samsara. I imagined floating in a vast ocean the size of a galaxy. It was slowly rotating and I was trapped, semi-drowning, in its waters. Sometimes people would drift near me, and they would become my friends and family. Others drifted by at a distance, and I was aware of the vast majority of other people being completely beyond my view.
I reflected that we living beings crave stability. That’s what we are looking for. We want stability and we try to construct it in samsara by finding a partner, finding somewhere to live, having friends, having possessions etc. All in an attempt to fix things around ourselves and to feel that we have some stability.
But as Atisha says in his advice, there is no firm ground in samsara. All our attempts to find firm ground are doomed because there is nothing in samsara that remains stable.
I thought about this constant, exhausting change, and I craved stability. Where can I find true stability, where I can rest?
It is in liberation and enlightenment that I can find stability – where I can rest.
I developed the sincere wish to become liberated from this whirlpool of change and dissatisfaction, and to abide with the enlightened ones in the peace and stability of enlightenment.
I focused on this wish for the rest of the meditation. Blissful.
May all living beings see the shifting nature of samsara, and through developing sincere renunciation for samsara, may they quickly attain liberation and enlightenment.
Practice in the Meditation Break
I will feel my renunciation in my heart, and wish to become free from the whirlpool of samsara, and attain the firm ground of the fortunate ones.