“Samsara” is the Sanskrit word for the “cycle of existence” which determines the universe, the world, nature and our lives. The western world sees life at eye level and perceives it as a line beginning at birth and ending at death. The eastern world (the base of the structure) views the cycle as an endless interplay of life and in-between lives. Both are correct– only the level of viewing makes it different.
The middle disc is the mechanism of samsara, and is composed of three circles that rotate counter-clockwise like a phonograph record. They represent youth, adulthood and longevity. The horizontal stationary line is the lifeline that divides the physical from the ethereal world. The starting point of each circle (birth) arrives at the same destination (death). It is not a matter of time. An infant living only a few days could accomplish the purpose of their life mission in a shorter period than one who lives many more years. LII is the roman numeral for 52 years, the average time spent between lives, based on scientific research.
The hikers ascend to higher levels, symbolizing the challenges in life that have been met and mastered. The water and the rocks are all part of samsara and the endless cycle of rotation and revolution– a world of motion and change. Nothing ceases to exist.
(The original painting is from the private collection of Sam Spicher of Harrisonburg, Virginia.)
Reproductions are available in our gift shop.