Depicting the realm of life that we are born into, and all the hidden desires, evil, and suffering we may endure until meeting our graves, the Wheel of Life is a Buddhist symbol that illustrates the many facets of “karmic law”. The Wheel of Life is a meditative and universal reflection of the human soul and is a complicated “map” of inner awakening.
What is the Wheel of Life?
Drawn on the outside walls of every Buddhist temple, the Wheel of Life helps explain the Buddha’s teachings. From understanding how both good and evil have their own cause and effect, we can implement our actions to determine our own fate. In the end, we are each the judge of our own selves. By traveling through our life’s journey with an open mind to implement and comprehend these teachings, we can use every life experience to better ourselves and further our own enlightenment.
What Do the Images on the Wheel of Life Mean?
There are Four Truths depicted on the Wheel of Life and then six realms that follow.
All six realms are known as dukkha, meaning temporary and imperfect, no matter how unpleasant. The six realms are as follows: The Realm of Devas, the Realm of Asura, the Realm of Hungry Ghosts, the Realm of Hell, the Animal Realm, and finally, the Human Realm.
Upon reaching the Human Realm, which very few do, one is considered to be reborn and enlightened through their passion for growing spiritually on life’s journey.
Wheel of Life Tattoo Designs
You do not need to practice Buddhism to opt for a Wheel of Life tattoo. The teachings are common sense and thus universal. While some people opt for the wheel design in all of its glory, others wear depictions from the many realms instead.
If you are entranced by sorrow and loneliness or greed, you may opt for the Realm of Hungry Ghost tattoos. Ghastly images in black and grey may illustrate some of your life challenges and battles.
Further, some people choose to tattoo the temporal paradise that is reached after a lifetime of good deeds found upon the Human Realm, where you will be reminded to fight against your own vanity and haughtiness. Mirror tattoos make a wise choice for that reason alone. Or you can go with a simple Buddha image, as he will guard over you in this paradise.
Other Design Ideas
In addition to standard wheel designs, some people incorporate other imagery. Dream catchers work in a Wheel of Life tattoo and also serve another purpose to deter bad dreams. Another idea is a ship’s wheel. You can opt for an old-school design and even throw in an anchor to help you stay grounded on your life path.
Once you fully understand the teachings of the Buddha and how the Wheel of Life explains the karmic law that we will all endure, you can get very creative with design ideas and inspirations. No matter your religion or spiritual views, one thing is for certain, one good deed can brighten a dark world.