Worlds we create
As hypnotherapists we know that you get what you focus on, Buddhist meditation has a term for this phenomenon, Bhavana. Bhavana, is a Sanskrit word that literally means making to become. The idea that we create the world that we live inÂ through the stories we tell ourselves and the filters on perception that they create is one that most hypnotherapists are comfortable with.
The wheel of becoming, or as it is sometimes more popularly known the Tibetan Wheel of Life is a graphic image of how this process works.
The whole structure is held by what appears to be a demon, who in fact represents the principle of impermanence. At the centre of the wheel are a cockerel, a pig and a snake each biting the tail of the other. These represent confusion, aversion and craving. Because we are confused we become fearful and in an attempt to assuage that fear we either try to get comfort from the things that we are attracted to, (e.g. money, food, cars, relationships etc) or push away the things that we believe threaten us (e.g. people, situations, etc). The idea here is that because this movement is more or less unceasing our minds are never still, never able to truly appreciate what we have, never able to perceive our own true nature or potential. We could say that the individual is something vast and limitless that has become trapped in a kind of game or story.
As a result of this we move through what are called the six realms. This isn’t about Buddhist cosmology but more a profound metaphor for how the reactive mind works. I include it because I have found it useful as a metaphor with many people, of many different faith perspectives, to give people a glimmer of insight into their own process.
Each of the realms is associated with a particular dominant emotion or mental state. At the top of the circle are the gods. The gods are living in bliss, they are mainly passive through living of the fruits of past good deeds. So unless they continue to take positive action they will eventually fall into one of the other realms.
Then we have the realm of the Titans, the jealous gods who are always fighting with the gods for possession of the wish fulfilling tree. We can see this in the world of politics and corporate power.
The Animal realm is the realm of simple appetites and complacency. We have all been there perhaps on Christmas Day afternoon, too bloated to move and too sated to care. What the animal realm lacks is any sense of culture, or reflection. This may manifest in some of us a kind of cheery nihilism âeat drink and be merry for tomorrow we die.
The next realm is the hungry ghosts, they are depicted asÂ beings with huge bellies and tiny necks and mouths. Not only that but everything that they do manage to eat or drink turns to fire. This is the state of addiction, and neurotic desire. I am using the term neurotic as opposed to healthy here in the sense of wanting something from the object of your desire that it can’t in and of itself give you. We have probably all tucked into a relished treat at sometime or other only to experience disappointment.
The hell realm is depicted in the usual way demons torture, fire and ice; psychologically we could say that it represents isolation. We come to be so caught up in our own suffering that we can no longer connect with anyone else, we live effectively in a world of objects, rather than people
The Human realm is an equal balance of pleasure and pain, here there is choice. We are aware as are the animals, but we know that we are aware, this gives us the power to make choices about our behaviour, how we relate to our surroundings.
In the Buddhist model the thing that is interesting from our point of view is that there is no being sending you. Any judgement is in fact done by you. The idea is that we are attracted by our habit energies to the comfort of what we know, even if it is painful. Think of people who suffered systematic abuse, and will seem to keep finding themselves back in that situation again and again. At the point of death there is the opportunity to step off the wheel altogether into an enlightened state, this opportunity is so terrifying that we seek out the comfort of the known.
Sow a thought, reap a deed,
Sow a deed reap a habit,
Sow a habit, reap a character,
Sow a character, reap a destiny