The Wheel of Life

The destruction of spirituality began with the Age of Reason. For the first time, mysticism, religion, and superstition could be openly challenged without fear of being branded a heretic and put to death. This freedom led to many life changing scientific inventions, but perhaps more influential than that, it led to radical thoughts about man’s purpose and being. The American and French revolutions came from these thoughts.

For the first time, a man could choose his own religion. He could choose his own trade. He could marry whom he wanted (as long as he chose the right gender). He could move around. He could move up in society. This inspired independence that has now become commonplace and expected. From babyhood  people are treated as individuals. The ties that create family and community are weak at best. With the freedom to make choices in all areas of life and the expectation of independence, this has left many of us without a construct by which to guide our lives.

So, let me give you one. It’s an ancient one that is found in all cultures throughout the world. It’s the Wheel of Life. The Wheel of Life varies from culture to culture and place to place, but its general ideas are very similar. The example below is one example.

What is the Wheel of Life?

What is the wheel of life? It’s a metaphor that captures the continuity and cycles of life. It can be used to help you understanding your place in the world. It can guide your steps as you go through life. It can help to heal you. It can give your life structure. Perhaps it can give you a sense of connection that all this independence and science that modern society has stripped away. Perhaps it can be a guide for moving through life in a connected, peaceful way.

direction North East South West
race European Asian Aboriginal African
season winter spring summer fall
element air fire earth water
aspect mental spiritual emotional physical
cycle death/ rejuvenation birth growth maturity
strengths/energy wisdom, organizing, intellectual capacity, criticizing, endings, finishing, freedom from fear, detachment, insight renewal, innocence, spontaneity, joy, belief in the unseen, illumination  youth, physical strength, vigor, generosity, sensitivity, loyalty, mobile passion, romantic love, music, employing the senses dreams, consolidating of personal powering, knowing yourself,
trials/lessons war, battle, thinking, analyzing, calculating, balance, nonjudgment, capacity to live in the center, moderation, justice, warmth of spirit, purity, trust, hope, unconditional love, truth, courage, being present physical tests, controlling appetites, involvement in the world, emotional balance death, darkness, getting comfortable with the unknown, perseverance, meditation, silence, being alone, respect for elders, awareness of spirituality, sacrifice, commitment to growth, ceremony,

How to Use the Wheel of Life

A lot of suffering comes from not knowing where you are or what to do. The Wheel of Life can help you to figure that out. There is really no beginning or end of the wheel, but many people like to think of the spring as the beginning since that is its energy. So, if you are looking at your life as seasons, where are you in the cycle? Are you at the beginning, a period of growth, maturity, or decline? Where is your love life? Your work life? Sometimes your whole life aligns to a season, but more often than not, each part of your life is in a different phase.

Defining your next step is easy if you know where you are. If you at in the spring phase of a problem area, you work on coming into being. You express the innocence of one who is newly born. You go forward with trust, courage, and see with new eyes. That’s all. If you are worried about what the maintenance phase looks like, you’re missing out on the now. If you are concerned that you haven’t peaked yet, well you haven’t built the road to success yet, so naturally you aren’t successful. You’re not likely to be so if you don’t do “now” well. So be here now. That’s all you have to do. If you do that well, the season will change and you will move along when it’s time.

Understanding the Wheel of Life can help those who resist change and always want things to stay the same too. Nothing stays the same. That’s not how life works. It can feel comforting and stable to have every day look like the one before it, but it’s just not realistic nor is it healthy. It takes a lot of energy to hold back the flow of energy and remain in place. Let it go. Use the energy for movement.

When you move through the seasons, you have tremendous opportunities for growth and happiness. The second time through summer isn’t the same as the first because you’ve had three seasons of life in between. Think about it. Was the summer of the third grade the same as the summer of your senior year in high school? Of course not. Each brought new challenges and deepened your wisdom.

Let the Wheel of Life work for you. It’s operating whether you acknowledge it or not. If you walk it with awareness, you will learn more and enjoy it more. If not, the lesson will come back around when you’re ready.

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