The Wheel of Life is a Buddhist allegorical painting that has been dated back to the times of ancient India. The painting is said to illustrate how it is that our sense of self and the world that we live in are determined by how we act and feel – in short, how we impose ourselves upon our own reality.
In his book Awakening From the Daydream meditation teacher David Nichtern interprets the Wheel of Life as an indicator of the way that we live life by what he refers to as ‘the internal dramas that we project onto them.”
It is this clouded daydream state that we struggle to operate within – one that distorts our true sense of being and awareness of who we are.
Nichtern first studied Buddhism in 1970 whilst attending the Berklee School of Music in Boston and also studying yoga.
It was at this time that he met Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche soon after his arrival in America. It was through one of Rinpoche’s lectures on the Wheel of Life that Nichtern became interested in the teachings and wisdom associated with the painting – which he describes in his book as a sort of PowerPoint presentation; a “concise concise collection of information-rich points that provide a comprehensive overview of our existential state.’
The Six Realms
For newcomers to the Wheel of Life the author explains the basics to its six key divisions, or realms, which represent our own inner psychological and emotional landscape.
Other essential components of the teachings associated with the painting are covered here; including the effect and influence of karma and the role of meditation.
Key features of the painting are also considered such as the symbol of death, or impermanence, holding the Wheel, the meaning of its centre as well as the ring that denotes the effect of positive and negative actions.
From there the author breaks down the meaning of the six realms from a Buddhist perspective on an individual basis. In each he explains the philosophy behind the essential doctrine of each one as well as identifying the psychological principles that play through us at each stage or level.
Later on specific meditation practices are introduced into the narrative along with guidance on how to shift one’s personal perspective through the process of self-examination as precursors to break through the self-imposed illusion of reality that we frequent.
Our Review of Awakening From the Daydream by David Nichtern
Knowing next to nothing about the Buddhist Wheel of Life and its associated teachings I approached this evaluation of it with great interest – and I have to say that this book in no way failed to fascinate me throughout its one hundred and forty pages.
As you will note it is not a large publication but neither is it bloated and cumbersome e in its style which I guess could so easily have been the case.
All the same I enjoyed reading Awakening from the Daydream to such a degree that I did feel it might have been even better for a newbie like me had the author fleshed out a few of his thoughts and philosophies more comprehensively.
That apart this is a terrific read and the author conveys his love for his chosen subject to such a degree it becomes rather infectious as you read on through it.
I recommend Awakening From the Daydream by David Nichtern as a powerful and highly-insightful commentary and feel that it will be valued and enjoyed by all – irrespective of any spiritual and religious beliefs.