Is There Scriptural Justification for The Wheel

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Is There Scriptural Justification for The Wheel

Postby bhavanirodha » Tue May 14, 2013 4:52 am

Dear friends in Dhamma,

I have long wondered whether there was any scriptural support for using the wheel as a symbol for Dependent Origination. Ven. Thanissaro also points this out in his 'The Shape Of Suffering', and as far as I have read and recall, there is nothing in the Sutta Pitaka explicitly warranting such symbolism. However, someone once told me that there is a place in the Vinaya where the Buddha allows the Bhikkhus to use the wheel as a symbol for Dependent Origination specifically and the Dhamma generally. I have never been able to locate such a passage, but my Vinaya resources are somewhat shaky.

Can anyone shed light on this mystery quote if such a one exists? Or provide any further scriptural ground for this symbolism?

Metta and peace,
Bowing and thanks,
Andrew
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Re: Is There Scriptural Justification for The Wheel

Postby cooran » Tue May 14, 2013 5:47 am

Hello Andrew,

This might be of interest:

Dhammacakkapavattana Sutta - Setting in Motion the Wheel of the Dhamma
Translated from the Pali by Bhikkhu Bodhi
http://www.budsas.org/ebud/ebsut001.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dhammacakk ... #Theravada

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Re: Is There Scriptural Justification for The Wheel

Postby binocular » Tue May 14, 2013 5:59 am

From the notes to SN 56.11:

The discussion in the four paragraphs beginning with the phrase, "Vision arose...," takes two sets of variables — the four noble truths and the three levels of knowledge appropriate to each — and lists their twelve permutations. In ancient Indian philosophical and legal traditions, this sort of discussion is called a wheel. Thus, this passage is the Wheel of Dhamma from which the discourse takes its name.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
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Re: Is There Scriptural Justification for The Wheel

Postby Dmytro » Tue May 14, 2013 7:20 am

Hi Andrew,

bhavanirodha wrote:However, someone once told me that there is a place in the Vinaya where the Buddha allows the Bhikkhus to use the wheel as a symbol for Dependent Origination specifically and the Dhamma generally.


This sounds nonsensical. There's nothing like this in the Pali Vinaya.

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Re: Is There Scriptural Justification for The Wheel

Postby Spiny Norman » Tue May 14, 2013 10:11 am

bhavanirodha wrote:I have long wondered whether there was any scriptural support for using the wheel as a symbol for Dependent Origination.


I've seen "samsara" translated as wheel - I think there's a Dhammapada verse which refers to the wheel of birth and death, I'll see if I can find it.
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Re: Is There Scriptural Justification for The Wheel

Postby Sam Vara » Tue May 14, 2013 10:15 am

I have long wondered whether there was any scriptural support for using the wheel as a symbol for Dependent Origination


It might be tempting to think of dependent origination as being "circular", in the sense that the ageing and death at the end of the links then feeds back into a new cycle, starting with ignorance. But I have never seen it this way in the suttas. There are of course several versions with different "links", but they are all linear; starting with one term and ending with another term.
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Re: Is There Scriptural Justification for The Wheel

Postby Spiny Norman » Tue May 14, 2013 10:24 am

Sam Vara wrote:It might be tempting to think of dependent origination as being "circular", in the sense that the ageing and death at the end of the links then feeds back into a new cycle, starting with ignorance. But I have never seen it this way in the suttas. There are of course several versions with different "links", but they are all linear; starting with one term and ending with another term.


Though most of the nidanas can be seen as cyclical processes. For example birth and death arise in dependence on the process of becoming.
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Re: Is There Scriptural Justification for The Wheel

Postby Zakattack » Tue May 14, 2013 10:39 am

What about these? Together, do they show a circularness?

In dependence on the sensuality element there arises sensual perception; in dependence on the sensual perception there arises sensual intention; in dependence on the sensual intention there arises sensual desire; in dependence on the sensual desire there arises sensual passion; in dependence on the sensual passion there arises a sensual quest. Engaged in a sensual quest, the uninstructed worldling conducts himself wrongly in three ways - with body, speech & mind.

SN 14.12


When the threefold wrong conduct prevails, it will make prevail the five hindrances. When the five hindrances prevail, they will make ignorance prevail.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... ml#book-10


Thus, monks, ignorance is the supporting condition for formations, formations are the supporting condition for consciousness, consciousness is the supporting condition for mentality-materiality, mentality-materiality is the supporting condition for the sixfold sense base, the sixfold sense base is the supporting condition for contact, contact is the supporting condition for feeling, feeling is the supporting condition for craving, craving is the supporting condition for clinging, clinging is the supporting condition for existence, existence is the supporting condition for birth, birth is the supporting condition for suffering, suffering is the supporting condition for faith, faith is the supporting condition for joy, joy is the supporting condition for rapture, rapture is the supporting condition for tranquillity, tranquillity is the supporting condition for happiness, happiness is the supporting condition for concentration, concentration is the supporting condition for the knowledge and vision of things as they really are, the knowledge and vision of things as they really are is the supporting condition for disenchantment, disenchantment is the supporting condition for dispassion, dispassion is the supporting condition for emancipation, and emancipation is the supporting condition for the knowledge of the destruction (of the cankers).

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .bodh.html


Also, the Tanhavagga: Craving seems 'circular'.
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Re: Is There Scriptural Justification for The Wheel

Postby mikenz66 » Tue May 14, 2013 7:34 pm

More wheels here than you could shake a stick at...

The Buddhist Wheel Symbol
by T. B. Karunaratne
http://www.bps.lk/olib/wh/wh137-p.html
The Pali commentaries of Sri Lanka refer to a number of wheels recognised by Buddhists. Buddhaghosa mentions sampatti-cakka, the wheel of happiness, lakkhana-cakka, the wheel symbol on the soles of the Buddha’s feet, rathanga-cakka, the chariot wheel, Iriyapatha Cakka, the wheel of movement or postures, dana-cakka, the wheel of liberality, ratana-cakka, the ideal wheel of a universal monarch, dhamma-cakka, the wheel of law of the Buddha, and urasi-cakka, the wheel of torture. [1] To this list Gurulugomi [2] adds praharana-cakra, the discus, asani-cakka, the wheel of thunderbolt, daru-cakka, the wheel-right’s wooden wheel, and samsara-cakka, the Wheel of Life. The last mentioned wheel is also known as bhava-cakka, the Wheel of Becoming. In our discussion on the iconography of the wheel, universally accepted as the distinctive symbol of Buddhists from very early times, we are concerned mainly with the ratana-cakka, the dhamma-cakka, the lakkhana-cakka and the samsaracakka or the bhava-cakka.
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Re: Is There Scriptural Justification for The Wheel

Postby mikenz66 » Tue May 14, 2013 8:58 pm

See also:
The Wheel of Birth and Death
by Bhikkhu Khantipalo
http://what-buddha-said.net/library/Wheels/wh147.pdf
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... el147.html

Dependent Arising is explained many times and in many different connections in the Discourses of Lord Buddha, but He has not compared it to a wheel. This simile is found in the Visuddhimagga ("The Path of Purification") and in the other commentarial literature. Although Theravada tradition has many references to this simile, it does not seem to have been depicted at all. But in Northern India and especially in Kashmir, the Sarvastivada school[2] was strongly established and besides producing a vast literature upon Discipline and the Further Dhamma (Vinaya and Abhidhamma), they produced also a way of depicting a great many important Buddhist teachings by this picture of the Wheel which is the subject of the present essay.

In Pali it is the bhava-cakka or Samsara-cakka, which is variously rendered in English as the Wheel of Life, the Wheel of Becoming or the Wheel of Rebirth.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... 7.html#his

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Re: Is There Scriptural Justification for The Wheel

Postby daverupa » Tue May 14, 2013 9:04 pm

It looks to be contemporary with some Commentarial stratum or other, at any rate.

I don't recall the phrase "with death as condition, ignorance", so it doesn't look like DO was originally intended to go 'round that bend.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Is There Scriptural Justification for The Wheel

Postby mikenz66 » Tue May 14, 2013 9:08 pm

Here is the start of the Visuddhimagga passage:
CHAPTER XVII
[SECTION C. THE WHEEL OFBECOMING]
[(I) THE WHEEL]

273. Now, here at the end sorrow, etc., are stated. Consequently, the ignorance
stated at the beginning of the Wheel of Becoming thus, “With ignorance as
condition there are formations,” is established by the sorrow and so on. So it
should accordingly be understood that:

    Becoming’s Wheel reveals no known beginning;
    No maker, no experiencer there;
    Void with a twelvefold voidness, and nowhere
    It ever halts; forever it is spinning.

274. But (1) how is ignorance established by sorrow, etc.? (2) How has this
Wheel of Becoming no known beginning? (3) How is there no maker or
experiencer there? (4) How is it void with twelvefold voidness?

275. 1. Sorrow, grief and despair are inseparable from ignorance; and
lamentation is found in one who is deluded. So, firstly, when these are established,
ignorance is established. Furthermore, “With the arising of cankers there is the
arising of ignorance” (M I 54) is said, and with the arising of cankers these
things beginning with sorrow come into being. How?

276. Firstly, sorrow about separation from sense desires as object has its arising
in the canker of sense desire, according as it is said:
    If, desiring and lusting, his desires elude him,
    He suffers as though an arrow had pierced him (Sn 767),
and according as it is said:
    “Sorrow springs from sense desires” (Dhp 215).
...
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... l#nanamoli

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Re: Is There Scriptural Justification for The Wheel

Postby mikenz66 » Tue May 14, 2013 9:32 pm

From the Visusshimagga passage quoted above:
275. 1. Sorrow, grief and despair are inseparable from ignorance; and
lamentation is found in one who is deluded. So, firstly, when these are established,
ignorance is established. Furthermore, “With the arising of cankers there is the
arising of ignorance” (M I 54) is said, and with the arising of cankers these
things beginning with sorrow come into being. How? ...

MN 9 wrote:66. "And what is ignorance, what is the origin of ignorance, what is the cessation of ignorance, what is the way leading to the cessation of ignorance? Not knowing about suffering, not knowing about the origin of suffering, not knowing about the cessation of suffering, not knowing about the way leading to the cessation of suffering — this is called ignorance. With the arising of the taints there is the arising of ignorance. With the cessation of the taints there is the cessation of ignorance. The way leading to the cessation of ignorance is just this Noble Eightfold Path; that is, right view... right concentration.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

Thanissaro Bhikkhu comments on the sutta:
Ven. Sariputta here continues the pattern of dependent co-arising past ignorance — the usual endpoint — to look for its origination, which is mental fermentation. Because these fermentations in turn depend on ignorance, the discussion shows how ignorance tends to prompt more ignorance. But, as Ven. Sariputta has demonstrated throughout his discussion, ignorance needn't keep propagating forever. Because it is simply a lack of knowledge in terms of the four noble truths, it can be replaced by knowledge that does look at things in terms of the four noble truths — the framework derived from the topics of skillful/unskillful and nutriment. When knowledge in terms of this framework is applied at any point in the causal framework, the entire framework dependent on ignorance can be brought to an end.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .ntbb.html

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Re: Is There Scriptural Justification for The Wheel

Postby mikenz66 » Tue May 14, 2013 9:38 pm

daverupa wrote:It looks to be contemporary with some Commentarial stratum or other, at any rate.

I agree. And I think that this is the case for most Buddhist symbolism. If one is interested in investigating the symbolism, then it would be difficult to stick with just suttas. One would need to consider the cultural background at the time, which would influence how certain passages in the Suttas would be interpreted by the listeners ("wheel of samsara" appears to be a vedic idea, and several other ancient wheel symbolisms are mentioned in the references I gave), as well as subsequent developments in iconography.

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Re: Is There Scriptural Justification for The Wheel

Postby retrofuturist » Tue May 14, 2013 10:40 pm

Greetings,

Sam Vara wrote:
I have long wondered whether there was any scriptural support for using the wheel as a symbol for Dependent Origination

It might be tempting to think of dependent origination as being "circular", in the sense that the ageing and death at the end of the links then feeds back into a new cycle, starting with ignorance. But I have never seen it this way in the suttas. There are of course several versions with different "links", but they are all linear; starting with one term and ending with another term.

Well said.

:goodpost:

Visual symbolism of a dependent origination wheel with pictures etc. unwittingly transforms the sutta meaning of paticcasamuppada from dependent arising (i.e. how samsaric experience arises dependent upon avijja, sankhara etc.) into a model of transmigration.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Is There Scriptural Justification for The Wheel

Postby binocular » Wed May 15, 2013 7:42 am

I see a striking similarity between the icon of the wheel and mindmaps.
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Re: Is There Scriptural Justification for The Wheel

Postby Spiny Norman » Wed May 15, 2013 9:25 am

daverupa wrote:I don't recall the phrase "with death as condition, ignorance", so it doesn't look like DO was originally intended to go 'round that bend.


That's true if one just views the nidanas as events in a simple linear sequence, which is the conditionality of "When this arises, that arises". But the other mode of conditionality described in DO is, "When this is, that is", and IMO that points to the nidanas themselves being cyclical processes - so for example while the process of becoming exists the process of birth and death will also exist. Wheels within wheels. ;)
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Re: Is There Scriptural Justification for The Wheel

Postby Spiny Norman » Wed May 15, 2013 9:28 am

mikenz66 wrote:More wheels here than you could shake a stick at...


I've always had an interest in the natural world, and have noticed that many natural processes are cyclical.
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Re: Is There Scriptural Justification for The Wheel

Postby binocular » Wed May 15, 2013 10:06 am

Well, it is called "the round of rebirth."
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Re: Is There Scriptural Justification for The Wheel

Postby bhavanirodha » Mon May 27, 2013 4:43 am

Dear all,

thank you all for your thorough replies. Please forgive this lateness of my follow up, as I don't have many opportunities to login.

Metta,
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