Visions Seminars

Mrs. Fierz: Is it that Tibetan wheel with the monster outside and the people turning round?

Dr. Jung: Well, the wheel is a central symbol in Buddhism, it is practically everywhere on Buddhistic monuments or in pictures, and there it
has two meanings.

One is the wheel of the law; in the Gazelle Garden of Benares, Buddha, the perfect one, sets in motion the wheel of the law that he evolves, and everything takes its law-abiding course.

Then the same concept, or picture, is used in the wheel of death and birth, the wheel of reincarnation or of illusion-reincarnation being simply another stage of illusion.

So whoever can let go of the revolving wheel will not be reborn, he will be annihilated; as an accomplished one, a perfect one, he will not return, he will extinguish himself utterly in nirvana, in the positive non-being.

Then, in the Lamaistic form of Buddhism particularly, mandalas are often depicted as wheels, despite the fact that they really come from another source, not from that Buddhistic wheel symbolism but from the Tantric cult of Shiva, which is older and quite different from Buddhism.

Yet these wheels have the meaning of the mandala there also, they are pictures of life and of the living being.

And you have read in The Secret of the Golden Flower that in China there is the idea of the mandala as revolving; it is a sort of vortex, like a rolling wheel.

So the wheel of life in this vision is life itself: it is the wheel of fortune, and it is the wheel of the law, it is the inevitable wheel to which everybody is clutching, and naturally they are swung round by its movement.

One would say there was no way of passing it, but our patient says:

At last I saw that on one side I could squeeze through, but I knew that to do this I would have to be clad in iron armor so that the swiftly revolving hands should not wound me or destroy the small flame which issued from my breast.

This passage is very enigmatical. ~Carl Jung, The Visions Seminar, Page 852-853