Wheel of Life
Eighteen forms of intense experience that can emerge
in a person's life in specific contexts and in relation to others.
These forms of experience can be considered religious,
not because the experiences are accompanied by religious thoughts, and
not because the people who have the experiences are religiously affiliated
or think of themselves or the experiences as religious,
but because the experiences embody "touches of transcendence,"
that is, a sense of being vital and aware and alive,
of having made contact with something
very important if not also beautiful.
How can the wheel be used?
It can be used as an invitation to mindfulness, a context for cross-cultural dialogue, a rubric for appreciating experiences evoked by the arts, an introduction to various forms of wisdom, a springboard for philosophical explorations, and a resource for constructive spiritual practice. The wheel as a whole is a reminder that different kinds of experience are relevant in different contexts, and that the house of rich experience contains many rooms. Life is fluid and variegated, calling for different responses by different people at different times. We best be gentle with one another.
The Concept of "Richness of Experience"
Whitehead suggests that, at every moment of our lives, we are seeking satisfaction. We are influenced by the past actual world in ways both tragic and fulfilling, and as we are influenced by our past actual worlds we simultaneously seek to become fully alive in the present.
Interpreting the Wheel
The Tibetan Wheel of Life depicts six realms of existence in which humans can be born and six states of mind which people can experience in this life and the next. The idea is that states of mind are harmonious and intense in their own right and simultaneously tell us something about the universe.