IN THE TIBETAN BUDDHIST world view, the six realms of existence (gods, demigods, humans, animals, hungry ghosts, and hell-beings) are all held in the grasp of the Lord of Death. In the center of the wheel are the three root poisons of desire, hatred, and ignorance symbolized by the cock, snake, and pig, and on the outer rim are the twelve links of dependent origination by which all causes and effects are determined. The ultimate goal, shown by the monks in the left inner circle and the Buddha in the upper right, is to follow a path that frees one from these cycles.
Srid pa'I khor lo (Wheel of Life). Painting on cloth, twentieth century. Tibetan Collection, Asian Division, Library of Congress