Wheel of Fortune-Wheel of Existence

Our next Arcanum bespeaks the Karmic-Fortunes that lie in store for the un-awakened mind, i.e. playing the game, rolling the dice without regard for the consequences. This Wheel of Fortune can either be an open system, or a closed system:

It sets forth, in the First place, the idea of the open circle and the closed circle. The open circle —or the spiral —is the world before the Fall of the six days of creation crowned by the seventh day, the cosmic sabbath, which corresponds to what one designates in mathematics as the “step of the spiral”. It suggests the idea of unlimited growth and advancement, being through its form only the introduction or antechamber to eternity. It promises unlimited progress. The closed circle, in contrast, is in principle only a prison, whatever its extent may be. It is a wheel which turns on itself and therefore suggests no advancement beyond its circle. The idea that the closed circle —or wheel —suggests, is that of eternal repetition.

[This eternal repetition, of course, represents the Law of Karma]: The first told of the “wheel of incarnations”, where birth, sickness, old age and death repeat themselves endlessly. The illumination that the Buddha had under the Bodhi-tree revealed three truths to him: that the world is a wheel of births and deaths, that its movement is fundamentally nothing other than suffering, and that there is a way towards the centre of the wheel, which is at rest. (MOTT)

In Tibetan Buddhism this dependent origination is characterized as the Wheel of Existence:

In [the above] depiction, the twelve links are shown as part of the wheel or circle of existence, which is held by the Lord of Death, who appears as an ogre. He grips the wheel with the long claws of his front and hind paws, holding it against his belly and chest. The top of the wheel is in his mouth. At the hub are three creatures: a pig, a bird, and a snake, denoting ignorance, desire, and anger, respectively. They are at the center of the wheel because these three main disturbing emotions are the primary causes that keep us in cyclic existence. The snake and the bird seem to be coming out of the pig’s mouth because ignorance is the principal of these three disturbing states of mind.

The wheel is divided into sections of which the three lower ones show the realms of hell beings, hungry spirits, and animals. These segments signify the suffering of pain. There are three upper sections representing the human realm, the abodes of the gods belonging to the desire realm, and those of the gods belonging to the form realm. The first two represent the suffering of change, while the latter represents the pervasive suffering of conditioning.

The different kinds of suffering have been caused by contaminated actions underlain by the disturbing emotions. To show how this happens, the twelve links of dependent arising—ignorance, formative action, consciousness, name and form, the six sources, contact, feeling, craving, grasping, existence, birth, and aging and death—are painted around the rim of the wheel. (Geshe Sonam Rinchen, How Karma Works: The Twelve Links of Dependent Arising)

This “eternal return” of everything is therefore an inevitable conclusion in a world understood as a closed circle, yea, there is nothing new under the sun; as Ecclesiastes says, all is in the grip of perpetual motion with the same end result being more of the same.

It is nothing other than cosmic hell. For the idea of hell can be understood as eternal existence in a closed circle. The closed circle of egoism would then be subjective and individual hell; the closed circle of a world of constant energy would then be objective and cosmic hell. (MOTT)

An open-system, by way of contrast, is more akin to the primordial spiral, an Un-born or uncreated sphere. The good news of the Unborn is that it’s not a closed-way, but a beginningless openness that is the opposite of the closed-prison of the former. It is the MOTIONLESS CENTER OF THE WHEEL from which all dharmata revolves around. The teaching here is that one should never roll the dice in the first place, just remain centered and AWARE of the consequences that are the risky and nefarious mark of the Wheel of Fortune; also IT is the way to defeat the diurnal wail of the perpetual turning Wheel of Existence. Stop. Reflect. Turn-about. Step off the wheel. Recollect. You are a child of the Unborn and the freedom of the other shore is at hand.

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