Lesson One Overview

The Wheel of Life and the Cycle of Confusion


“The wheel of life seems to be a complete portrait of the karmic situation, of how we end up here. . . . It is like spring and autumn changing to summer and winter. We put so much effort and energy into our life, and each time we do so, that results in something—and when we work on that result, that produces a further result, which makes us do something else. So we are constantly going on and on. Action, or karma, is continuous. As long as we live that way, we die that way, and we are born that way. The truth of death is the truth of life. So death is not regarded as an escape from or an ending to our life, but death is the beginning of another birth—and that process takes place constantly.”—Volume One, chapter 9, “The Painful Reality of Samsara”


In a mandala, everything in the cosmos is included and nothing is left out. That all-encompassing quality is what gives us the opportunity to transmute confusion into wisdom. But before that transmutation can take place, we must go into our bewilderment completely and thoroughly. We must understand the subtle thread of struggle that runs through every aspect of our lives. In this lesson, we’ll learn how our ego hijacks our innate intelligence and keeps us stuck in a cycle of misperception.


This lesson will help you...

  • Consider what thoughts are central to your life
  • Define mandala and understand the broad view of what it represents in the life of a practitioner
  • Learn the symbolism of the Wheel of Life, including the three poisons, the twelve nidanas, the six realms, and Lord Yama
  • Reflect on the subtle quality of struggle present in your daily life

Complete and continue