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Greed, Hatred & Delusion
Because all is impermanent, we experience fear and a deep sense of insecurity in life. Buddhism says that we tend to react in three ways to things that threaten us. We try to protect or insulate ourselves, we try to fight the thing which threatens us or run away, or we try to ignore or even deny the threat. The tendency to try to protect or insulate ourselves Buddhism calls Lobha which literally means "greed" or "lust". The fight or flight tendency is called Dvesa or "hatred". The tendency to try to deny the thing we fear or what threatens us Buddhism calls Moha or "delusion". Collectively Dvesa, Lobha and Moha are called the Three Poisons.
The centre of the wheel of life depicts three animals; a pig, a cockerel and a snake, and each of these animals are biting each other's tail. It is as if their attempt to lunge and bit each other is providing the momentum to spin the wheel. The cockerel represents "greed", the snake represents "hatred" and the pig represents ignorance or delusion.
The trick for the Buddhist is to transform these three poisons into wisdom, compassion and equanimity.
Development or Decay
If you look at the second wheel, you can see that it is divided into two, a white half on the left, and a darker half on the right. In the darker half on the right you see people falling, and in the lighter side on the right, you see people floating or climbing upward.
Impermanence is the idea that everything in the world is changing. This includes us! Buddhism says that we are always changing. Think of a person at the fourth day of conception, or four days after birth, or four months old, or four years, or fourteen or forty. They are different people, they look, talk, think and feel differently, yet they are the same person too! The same, but not exactly the same.
Buddhism has a word for this idea that every person is constantly changing; they call it "Anatta", the idea that there is no fixed self or soul.
If everyone is changing and they cannot stay the same then they have two possibilities. They are either getting better, or they are getting worse. They can either develop or grow, or decay. So Buddhism says that each one of us has two options; we can either develop or we can decay, and we are free to chose. We can decide to put in some effort and attention and consciously effect that change for the better, we can grow we can develop, or we can do nothing and just let ourselves decay.
Buddhism says that there is no destiny that is planned out for us. We make our own destiny. Within the constraints of our conditioning, we are absolutely free to make of ourselves what we wish.
Think of our bodies, if we do not keep fit we get weak and flabby. The same is true with our minds. If we do not use them and don't exercise them we don't develop them. If we do nothing they do not stay the same, they run down, get flabby, they get worse. The mind is like a muscle, we must exercise it.
The Six Realms
The next wheel out is divided into six segments (D-I). These six segments are symbolic of six states of mind, six types of mood or experiences that we can have. The word for the study of our minds is Psychology, so these six states are, if you like, the basis of Buddhist "Psychology". Although each of the segments, or realms, represent a particular state of mind, you should realise that each of the realms shade into each other.
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