The Wheel of Dharma, or
the Wheel of the Teaching, is the translation of the Sanskrit word,
"Dharma cakra" (dharma-chakra). Similar to the wheel of a cart that
keeps revolving, it symbolizes the
Buddha's teaching as it continues
to be spread widely and endlessly.
The Wheel of Life: East vs. West
The eight spokes of the wheel
represent the Noble Eightfold Path of
Buddhism, the most important
Way of Practice.
The Noble Eightfold Path refers to right view,
right thought, right speech, right behavior, right livelihood, right
effort, right mindfulness, and right meditation. In the olden days
before statues and other images of the Buddha we made, this Wheel of
Dharma served as a the object of worship.
At the present time, the
Wheel is used internationally as the common symbol of Buddhism.
The Power of a Balanced Wheel
After he had attained
enlightenment, as a result of requests Buddha rose from meditation
and taught the so-called first "Wheel of Dharma. These teachings,
which include the Sutra of the Four Noble Truths and other
discourses, are the principal source of the Hinayana, or Lesser
Vehicle, of Buddhism.
Later, Buddha taught the second and third
Wheels of Dharma, which include the Perfection of Wisdom Sutras and
the Sutra Discriminating the Intention, respectively. These
teachings are the source of the Mahayana, or Great Vehicle, of
Buddhism. In the Hinayana teachings,
The Wheel of Life in Buddhism
Buddha explains how to attain
liberation from suffering for oneself alone. In the Mahayana
teachings he explains how to attain full enlightenment, or Buddhahood, for the sake of others. Both traditions flourished in
Asia, at first in India and then gradually in other surrounding
countries, including Tibet. Now they are also beginning to flourish
in the West.
Buddha's teachings, which
are known as "Dharma", are likened to a wheel that moves from
country to country in accordance with changing conditions and
people's karmic inclinations.
The external forms of presenting
Buddhism may change as it meets with
different cultures and
societies, but its essential authenticity is ensured through the
continuation of an unbroken lineage of realized practitioners.
Buddha's teachings are said to be like a precious wheel because,
wherever they spread, the people in that area have the opportunity
to control their minds by putting them into practice.