Wheel of Reincarnation

Scene 3, Baodingshan, Dazu (map)

The Great Wheel of Rebirth summarizes the Buddhist doctrine of karma: an endless cycle of reincarnation into higher or lower forms of life according to one's past deeds. In this sculpture the demon Mara, personifying existence, holds the wheel in his jaws and arms. The wheel is supported from below by personifications (l. to r.) of greed (an official), evil (a soldier), foolishness (a monkey), and lust (a woman). Six Buddha-rays emanate from the wheel, signifying that enlightenment, the goal of all Buddhist practice, enables the seeker to escape from the eternal cycle of birth and death.