The Wheel of Samsara

12/01/2011 01:31 pm ET | Updated Jan 31, 2012

In Buddhism, the Wheel of Samsara has many different meanings, just as does the Cross in Christianity, the Crescent Moon in Islam or the Star of David in Judaism.

What do you see?

I see movement. So, I'm thinking today that Thanksgiving comes and goes so quickly. Does it seem so to you? For two straight days, I observed the tireless way in which Pam prepared the special dishes of food that we might enjoy as a family. Days of preparation and, in a flash, it's over and gone for yet another year.

I will be mindful today of the forward movement of life. It goes on, and I go with it, whether I wish to or not. There are tasks to be done today. I will let nothing keep me from moving into today and living it with my entire presence.

I see the cycle of life in the Wheel of Samsara. Everything appears; everything disappears. And so do we. Today, I will remember the preciousness of life, of each day, of this moment. I will embrace this moment as I did my children when they were but infants. I will enjoy this day as if my last. It just might be.

I see many spokes in the wheel. Might that be the varied people in my life or within this world? Each separate and yet mysterious connected? Every person I meet -- every person -- will be different from me and deserves to be accepted, not because they meet my standards of expectation or acceptance, but because they are who they are -- period! I will remember, when I judge another, I am really only ever judging myself; when I reject another, there is something mysteriously self-damaging in that in that rejection. I may not like it, but I am connected to all and all are connected to me. I am "we" and we is thee. Or, in Vedic literature, the Rishis say, "I am that, you are that, all this is that, and that's all there is."

When I see the Wheel of Samsara, I see something else. Though there are many spokes, the spokes all meet in the center. Maybe you're like me but, I see something of the same mystery when I observe the thousands of limbs on the giant oak tree in our front yard. Now that most of its leaves have yielded to their destiny, the limbs and branches are exposed. They are too numerous to count but, mysteriously, they all draw their sustenance, their strength, from the same trunk, the same root system, the same Source.

So do we. Which is why I will be mindful today that "no tree has branches so foolish as to fight among themselves" (Native American wisdom). When we meet in the center, our Source, we meet each other -- we meet ourselves. We become the One we really are already.

Jesus said, "When you have seen me, you have seen the Father" (John 20:29). That is the oneness I am -- you are. Robert Frost pointed to something of the same mystery when he wrote, "We dance 'round the ring and suppose; but the secret sits in the middle and knows."

I'll sit in the middle. Join me?