What Does the Circle of Life Mean?

Birth, survival, and death are all represented by the circle of life. There are numerous faiths and philosophical systems that embrace the concept of existence as a circle or a wheel. Different wheels or circles have varying degrees of complexity.

Because life is a loop, a circle is a common metaphor for it. Both births and deaths occur continuously. However, there is a spiritual component to the circle in the notion that life does not always finish with the conclusion of one existence.

Many religions and ideologies hold that certain life paths lead to an afterlife where people will live another life, usually a better one. Thus, when a human dies, they are only reborn to start a new cycle of life and are not truly dead.

In Buddhism, the centre of the circle is comprised of three things: desire, hatred, and ignorance, which people are constantly attempting to avoid. In order to symbolise the fact that not everyone is capable of overcoming life’s obstacles, the Buddhist wheel of life also features two ascending and descending half circles.

When this occurs, one must start over. There are several overlaps between this idea and the Christian idea of being born again. According to Christians, everyone must experience a new birth through Christ in order to enter Heaven.

Misha Khatri
Misha Khatri is an emeritus professor in the University of Notre Dame's Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. He graduated from Northern Illinois University with a BSc in Chemistry and Mathematics and a PhD in Physical Analytical Chemistry from the University of Utah.


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