Suffering is as much a part of life as joy is. As mere mortals, we struggle to get out of the life cycle that necessarily means we are caught in a vicious circle of never-ending misery.
The Wheel of Life, in Buddhism, is a diagram that represents all the environments of Samsara and all the beings that inhabit them. It highlights the nature of Samsara and the paths that take us and keep us bound there. One who meditates on the Wheel of Life understands the need to come out of it.
According to Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, in his 'Joyful Path of Good Fortune', one who meditates on the Wheel of Life gets the inspiration of the Buddha and the "ripening of the good Karmic potentialities".
The Wheel of Life has three animals - a pig, a pigeon and a snake in the centre. The three animals represent mental shortcomings - the pig stands for ignorance, the pigeon for attachments and the snake for hatred. They are shown in a circle to make us believe they are interdependent.
The innermost circle is surrounded by another circle that is half white and half black- one representing the virtuous path and the second representing the non-virtuous path that leads to the lower realms. There are numerous other symbolic figures too and various realms of life.
The 'wheel' is firmly held in the clutches of Yama, the Lord of Death, that reminds us that life is impermanent and the only way to seek peace and permanence is to get rid of the cycle.
At one side of the wheel, one sees the Buddha standing and pointing towards a moon. The Buddha outside the wheel means he has attained liberation and the moon symbolises true cessation of the worldly cycle.
It is a way to make one be convinced of the ways of the world and the need to seek the path of liberation. The Wheel of Life should come quite handy for the serious seeker of permanent peace.