The Wheel of Life / Samsara and the Cube of Space

The 22: The Obvious and Unseen Link Between East and West

-- Spencer Perkins --
The Wheel and the Cube: Eastern and Western Cosmological Models

Wheel of Life - Encyclopedia of Buddhism
Description of the Wheel of Life Thangka Painting
Bhavacakra - Wikipedia

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The Cube of Psychological Space    

  Links between Eastern and Western esoteric systems have been tenuous at best - they have seemingly evolved rather separately as far back as we can tell. However, one important connection has gone unnoticed - the similarity in the geometrical structures of the Wheel of Samsara and the Cube of Space. The Wheel has 6 "realms" or "beings" arranged in a circle, very similarly to the 6 faces of the Cube. The Wheel also has a larger circle divided into 12 sections, just as the Cube has 12 edges. Another curious relation is the location of the Moon "outside" the Wheel and "inside" the Cube.

  So, what does this all mean? Well, it indicates that the Eastern and Western esoteric traditions have a common ancestor until a point of divergence very far back in the past. Going forward, it means that we can use the strong points of each tradition understand more about the other. The Wheel of Samsara has weaker geometrical and formulaic relations, being "flattened" much like various depictions of the Sephirot, yet the concepts behind it have been much better preserved and expounded upon compared to the cryptic and largely unaccounted for nature of the Cube. Therefore, a moderate attempt at a syncretism is needed - the desired result should have the geometrical relations and qualitative formulas of the Cube to tie together the concepts of the Wheel in such a fashion that provides greater insight into their nature. Upon attempting such a fusion, one might notice several strong similarities in the ideas and symbolism of both systems. Such an attempt is listed below.

The Six Realms of the Wheel of Samsara and the Six Faces of the Cube of Space

Both the Wheel and the Cube express the various states of mind as a division of 6 sections. On the Wheel they are represented as "realms" or "beings", and on the Cube they are represented as sephirotic formulas and celestial bodies. They are here grouped as best fitting (according to the writer) matches between the emotional quality of one of the sections of the Wheel and the celestial energy quality of one of the faces on the Cube. The first 3 listed are classified as "higher realms" on the Wheel, and the last 3 are "lower realms", following the same pattern as the primary and secondary triads on the Cube.


Top Face of Cube : Shabbatai/Saturn : 5/Geburah : Life/Death : Existence Axis

Gods (Pride) - These beings are "above" the rest in their minds, not subject to the struggle and strife of the lower classes. They are extremely wealthy and do not have to toil to stay alive, but as such they never experience the hardship of life that teaches its true meaning. Their placement on the Existence axis, with the polarity of Life/Death as their celestial energetic flow, is indicative of the abundance of wealth that prevents one from ever truly being alive - one just "exists".

Bottom Face of Cube : Tzedeq/Jupiter : 6/Tipharet : Peace/Bad : Existence Axis

Demi-Gods/Asuras (Jealousy/Envy) - These beings are disturbed by the current configuration of their lives and crave the wealth, reputation, and status of the previously mentioned Gods. They are "below" them on the Cube, immediately showing how mapping the qualities of the 2-dimensional Wheel onto the 3-dimensional figure of the Cube can provide greater insight into their nature. The polarity of Peace and Bad/Uncertain very naturally depicts a mind at peace with its current circumstances and its opposite, the restless mind motivated by negative thought.

East Face of Cube : Meadim/Mars : 7/Netzach : Wisdom/Folly : Life Axis

Humans (Desire) - Forming desires throughout the course of life is a natural part of being a human. It is what motivates us, keeps us moving "forward" (on the Cube), and has great effect on the qualities and experiences of our lives. Therefore it is easy to see how the polarity of Wisdom/Folly naturally describes the importance of not forming attachments, and choosing correct action as self-aware human beings.

West Face of Cube: Hamah/Sun : 8/Hod : Wealth/Poverty : Life Axis

Animals (Stupidity/Ignorance) - Animals are bereft of conscious thought - their simplistic drive is based almost entirely on instinct. This unconscious activity occurs within the minds of us all, to varying degrees. Awareness shines through as the light of the Sun through clouded skies, warming our backs and lighting our way...The polarity of Wealth/Poverty is not an allusion to worldly riches but instead the treasures of the mind - mental formations that facilitate higher thought.

South Face of Cube: Nogah/Venus : 9/Yesod : Beauty/Charm : Experience Axis

Hungry Ghosts (Miserliness/Greed) - Completely dominated by their desire for material possessions and sensory experience, these beings are acting under the influence of Nogah/Malkut, entranced by the polarity of Beauty/Charm. They are never satisfied with what they have, no matter the amount. The attractive, receptive force of Nogah/Malkut has them enthralled.

North Face of Cube: Kawkab/Mercury : 10/Malkut : Seed/Waste : Experience Axis

Hell Beings (Hatred/Anger) - These entities are described as being extremely sensitive and hostile. The common factor between these two traits is reactivity; this is embodied in Mercury/Yesod, the polarity of Seed/Waste along the Experience. This dual flow of energy represents the act of acting and reacting, creating new configurations and destroying old ones. It is also said that these beings are being punished for their previous deeds and karma, again speaking to the transformative nature of the Seed/Waste polarity


At the center of the Cube, we have the Moon to represent the psyche, the individual point of perspective. On the Wheel of Samsara, however, the Moon is located outside of the Wheel entirely, representing "liberation" (nirvana) from the process of Samsara, or the 6 realms of being. This sheds much light on the meaning polarity of the Moon/Lavanah - Freedom/Domination. This very naturally depicts the concept of ruling or being ruled by your environment, both inner and outer. Are you in control of your slice of reality, or does it control you? Everyone falls somewhere on this axis going from inside the Cube to outside of it, infinitely large to infinitely small. His Dwelling, The Holy Palace, supporting the six other extremities of the Cube of Space, is both the container and contained. The Cube acts as a sort of barrier or container that separates our perspective from the rest of the universe, providing an interface by which we can perceive and act upon reality as an individual.

Having the Moon in these two locations reminds us of a very important fact: the infinitely large is also the infinitely small. The Macrocosm is intrinsically linked to the Microcosm, with the faces of the Cube between them. You can treat these two "locations" as the extremities of a fourth axis leading into and out of the Cube, a sort of contact point between inner and outer, separate (finite) and unified (infinite) consciousness. It is what the Sepher Yetsira describes as "the Creator sitting on his base". (Lavanah): Existential movement/learning/balanced force (30) stirs within the structure of the Cube/house/archetypal container (2). 30.2 (Lev) is the word for "heart", and it also equals 32, the number of Paths of Wisdom. From this symbolism, it is easy to see that the Moon is the "heart" of the Cube, contained within its center and creating the flows of energy that course throughout it. 50.5, "eminence" or "excellency", neatly symbolizes the double life of the macro/microcosm with the archetypal life of Heh (5) and the existential life of Nun (50). This word also equals 55, splitting into 5 and 5, furthering the idea before combining into 10, the number of existence. Lavanah also means "brick/tile" and "whiteness/brightness/luster", reminding us of the Fire element associated with it.

Other relevant words that equal the 87 of Lavanah are: (Ymuel): "God's Day" (Sabbath) (Hhassidyh, alternative of Hhesed)
50.7.30: to flow or run, leak, drip, be fluent
10.7.70: to flow, run, sweat
1.6.80: to surround, to contain
1.80.6: to bake, baker

The Three Poisons of the Wheel of Samsara and the Axes of the Cube of Space

The grouping of 3 inside the Wheel can be mapped to the 3 axes of the Cube, just like the 3 Mother Letters and first 3 Sephirot.

Pig (Ignorance) - Existence Axis: Existence itself is often viewed as a form of ignorance, madness, even evil. To move away from the perfect, unified Singularity and become Multiple, turning from Observer to the Observed. As humans, we can reduce our ignorance and raise awareness to the nature of our existence. However, this often only happens when prompted by necessity, something that the more-fortunate (Gods, Demigods) never experience.

Rooster (Desire) - Life Axis: Life is itself a sort of striving, a series of attachments formed and the attempt to sate them. Overcoming the desires of our higher (Human) and lower (Animal) consciousnesses is necessary for liberation.

Snake (Hatred/Anger) - Experience Axis: Inward receptivity (Hungry Ghosts) and outward reactivity (Hell Beings) are the opposing polarities along the Experience axis - anger is the emotion that poisons them, allows them to be affected by negativity. Eliminating anger/hatred is the path to the proper flow of energy.

Twelve links of interdependent co-origination and the twelve signs of the zodiac in the Cube of Space

Toleh - Aries - Sight - Ignorance

Fundamental ignorance of the truths and the delusion of mistakenly perceiving the skandhas as a self.

The first step in the process of change is awareness. Here, the unrealized individual/archetypal formation (9) desires/sees/induces existential movement/learning/balancing (30), initiating the process of a standalone life form (5). One is motivated by the idea of greener pastures.

Shaur - Taurus - Hearing - Formation

Karmic formations arise because of ignorance, which affect the realms we are 'reborn' in - or in other terms, the states of mind we are led into as a result of our actions.

300.6.200: Radiant energy/consequences from the current and previous configurations of events (300 - cosmic movement) spiral outward/penetrate/causes ripples in (6) the psyche/head/cosmic container (200)

Teomaim - Gemini - Smell - Consciousness

Formations cause the consciousness of the next existence. The consciousness which propels one towards the next existence is called the impelling consciousness. And the consciousness that is led to that particular state, once the conditions have come together, is known as the consciousness of the impelled result. These two aspects of consciousness are counted as a single link since together they establish the link between two lives. (Twins of Gemini)

400. The end/resistance/result/focal point (400) of the previous 'life' or mindset begins a new cycle (1) that re-penetrates/spirals or ripples outward (6) into the physical reality/Waters of Existence (40.10.400 - Mayim or "water"). 400.1.6 is a restructuring of 1.6.400 "Aut": sign, monument, token of proof, singular of Autiot. The beginning (1) penetrates/copulates/merges with (6) the end (400). In this segment 400.1.6 you can see the end of the last cycle and the beginning of a new one, such as in the pattern 1.6.[400.1.6].400.1.6.400...

Sartan - Cancer - Speech - Name and Form

The five skandhas. By the power of consciousness one is linked to a womb, and there the body develops: the form and the four 'name' skandhas of sensation, perception, formation and consciousness.

The 'fence' of Hhayt, the Chariot of the Tarot, the Crab of Cancer, and the womb mentioned here are similarly themes as protective vessels. The hidden process of internal development happens here.

Sartan: A closed loop/protective vessel/tent (60) containing the psyche/mind/cosmic container/seed (200) undergoes formation/structuration resulting in the creation of life existing in temporality/connecting to the next phase (50/700)

Arieh - Leo - Taste - Six Sense Organs

The six inner ayatanas of the sense faculties then arise. Outer development of the psyche to be able to interface with the physical world. All of the pieces are now in place, ready to be incorporated into a whole in the next cycle. Undeveloped/archetypal consciousness (1) forms the psyche/outer container/interface/mental facilities (200) to establish physical presence (10) as an individualized life form (5)

Betolah - Virgo - Coition - Contact

The coming together of objects, sense faculty and consciousness is contact.

2.400.6.30.5: the container/body/house forms the focal point/resting place/point of contact (see: "kissing number") (400) that, when penetrated (6) with the input from the 6 sense facilities creates inner movement/sensation/learning (30) necessary for existence as an individualized life form (5)

Mozenaim - Libra - Action - Sensation

From contact arises sensation: pleasurable, painful and neutral.

The 3 types of inner sensations listed are reflected in the nature of Lamed (30 = 3 x 10). Here is the point where inner and outer interface with each other, "balancing" (like the Scales of Libra) the two by providing different ratios and quality of internal sensations in response to external configurations and events, or vice versa Ear ('ozen', 1.7.50) in the Waters (Mayim - 40.10.40/600), or a receptiveness to external configurations flowing inward. Mem (40 - existential resistance/attractive force) begins the equation, and Mem (600 outer copulation/abundance/flow) ends it, indicating the two "Waters" of the inner and outer worlds. To reinforce this concept, the first Mem is followed by Aleph (1) and the second is preceded by Yod (10). This leaves the remaining two letters as the "fulcrum" that balances them (indetermination/uncertainty/free will/choice (7) connects/interfaces/transforms (50) into new life/ connection to the next phase

Aqarav - Scorpio - Motion - Craving

There then develops a desire not to be separated from pleasurable sensations and to be free from painful sensations.

Nun (existential life) consists of this basic drive to avoid pain and pursue pleasure. Being in the middle of the 9x3 array, it exemplifies the concept of balance and connection necessary for avoiding extremes. The observer/ unfulfilled individual/eye (70 - choice, uncertainty, development, grasping for fullfillment of desired potentials ) has thoughts/ideas/dreams (100) enter the head/mind/psyche/cosmic container (200) which manifest archetypal containers/restrictions of behavior/"houses" that need filling/ideas about ideal configurations (2)

Qoshet - Saggitarius - Anger - Grasping

As craving increases, it develops into grasping, i.e. actively striving never to be separated from what is pleasurable and to avoid what is painful.

100.300.400: Examining the structure of this word, one can see the dreams and ideas of Qof skipping the containment and transformation of Raysh (200), instead manifesting directly as cosmic movements (300) acting against cosmic resistance (400). This can be seen as a forcing or striving "against the flow", pursuing a state that is a "dead end".

Ghedi - Capricorn - Laughter- Becoming

Through this grasping one acts with body, speech and mind, and creates the karma that determines next existence.

3.4.10: Movement (3) through the Door (4 - Dalet) of Existential Consciousness (10). Transference to a newly realized impermanent/temporal state/existence.

Deli - Aquarius - Thought - Birth

Through the power of this becoming, one is reborn in a particular birthplace whenever the necessary conditions are assembled.

4.30.10: Through the Door (4 - Dalet) into Existential Movement/learning/equilibrized forces (30) of Existential Consciousness (10). One experiences/learns from the state they have entered

Daghim - Pisces - Sleep - Old Age and Death

Following rebirth there is a continual process of aging as the aggregates change and develop; and eventually there is death when the aggregates finally cease. 4.3 (Dag - fish) is a regressive motion compared to the 3.4 of Ghedi. Resistance (4) acts upon the archetypal movement/turning of the Wheel (3), totalling the sum of 7 which is the letter Zayn (Teomaim), previously described as the phase in which one transfers from the previous life or state to the next. The other letters 10.40, indicate plurality; and indeed if you examine the sum (10+40 = 50/Nun/Fish/Death) you may understand the nature of the formula of Daghim: two fishes moving or pulling in opposite directions; one towards life in the next turn of the wheel (7) and the other towards death (50). This symbolizes the process of discarding unwanted elements while preserving the desired ones, the basic formula for personal growth.

[ Twelve links of dependent origination - Rigpa Wiki ]
Experiences of the Body   |   12/Twelve Simples B'Olam: Signs of the Zodiac   ]

The Five Skandhas

Form - Assiah - Hhesed - Earth - Nefesh

Sensations - Yetzira - Binah - Water - Ruach

Formations - Beriah - Hhokmah - Air - Neshama

Perceptions - Atzilut - Keter - Fire - Chaya

Consciousness - Yechida~one

Four Worlds