BUDDHIST WHEEL OF EXISTENCE
The Psychology of Confusion and the Path of Liberation

Yama Lord of Death and Time

Yama embodies the insight that is beyond constructions such as time and space. He holds up the Mirror of Wisdom, reflecting samsara or the Wheel of Existence, with its causes and conditions.
Yama is known as Manjushri in his peaceful aspect, and, as he embodies the wisdom that eliminates confusion, he is known as the father of all the buddhas. As such he is the intelligence that is inherent in all living creatures, and is an innate sacred principle that needs not be limited to the particular terms or definition of one language, religion or science. For agnostic persons he could simply be identified as the naked insight that sees through deception. However, for this insight to effectively liberate from the suffering of confusion, recognition of insight needs to be cultivated and fully realised. In the image of the Wheel of Existence, Yama is represented as a wrathful buddha in order to awaken from the dullness of ignorance.

The Mirror of Wisdom

The image of the Wheel of Existence, reflected in the Mirror of Wisdom, describes the confused experience of sentient beings. These experiences have nothing to do with belief or culture, but are universal experiences based on universal causes. The mirror has two purposes: a mirror is not partial to what is reflected – it is a symbol of truthfulness; and in itself it symbolizes the vivid yet unreal nature of appearances: a reflected image, however vivid it may be, is not truly anything but a reflection. Although the experiences of our existence seem very real due to the causal conditions – delineated in the Twelve Links of Dependent Origination - they only exist in appearance. On the other hand, even though the reflections are not real, the beholder might not be aware of this, and therefore experience the reflections as vividly real. In this case mistaken belief in reality brings about unceasing cycles of suffering.

Buddha and the Moon Of Enlightenment
The Buddha points in the direction of the Moon, representing the freedom of enlightenment.
The Buddha's diagnosis of samsara is that samsara is a curable condition. Although the suffering of samsara may appear unending, nothing we experience comes about without particular causes and conditions, and hence everything is subject to continual change. To remedy confusion and suffering, the Buddha taught a path that establishes causes and conditions for happiness, and ultimately how to unveil the ignorance and assumptions that lead to confusion and suffering.
The Buddha is shown pointing to the Moon, as in ancient India the Moon was a symbol of cool relief from the scorching heat, which in this case alludes to the torturous pains of samsara.