Artists Yonat Vaks, Chiefmonkey and mosaic.rocks combine Bitcoin and Bhuddism in The Bitcoin Bhavacakra.
Buddha and Satoshi’s Teachings: How to Ascend From Fiat Samsara to Bitcoin Nirvana
Legend has it that the Bhavacakra, also known as the Wheel of Life, was created by the Buddha himself. It depicts the journey of the human soul through the trappings of the Samsara (cyclic existence of life) until they are able to ascend to Nirvana.
In our interpretation we have applied the teachings of Satoshi and shown how humans are trapped in the fiat Samsara and how we may escape, evolve and ascend as a species through the adoption of a bitcoin standard.
The Bhavacakra comes from the Buddhist religion, but since Bitcoin is all inclusive and this piece intends to incorporate all its qualities on several different levels, we have included symbols from other religions, cultures and times in history, both classical and modern.
Our Bitcoin Bahvacakra is hand drawn, laser cut then hand painted oak veneer with cowrie shell ornaments and Italian Smalti glass detailing. Within the Samsara Wheel, there are 21 individual paintings.
This work will be auctioned on Scarce.city on Friday, April 9, 2021.
The Meanings of Elements
Starting with the obvious, we’ll explain all of the elements, their meanings and our interpretations:
Yama, the Lord of Death, desperately grasps hold of the Wheel of Life. He represents our fear.
Yama, however, is not a figure to be feared since it’s a reminder of impermanence.
A reminder that, in order to ascend to Nirvana, one should lose their ego thereby losing their fear.
Buddha / Satoshi
The word “Buddha” means “one who is awake to reality” or “enlightened.” The original Buddha did not claim to be a god or prophet but was actually born 2,500 years ago into a royal family in a small kingdom on the Indian–Nepalese border. Shocked into the reality of his protected and privileged life, he sought to learn the meaning of human existence and gave everything up to follow the humble path as a truth seeker.
We have depicted Satoshi here as a humble person of the land. You will often see Buddha pointing the way across to Nirvana, the liberation from the cycles of rebirth. Similarly, we have Satoshi pointing the way forward for those who are seeking to be free of the fiat Samsara and wish to embrace the bitcoin standard.
The golden egg behind Satoshi is colored using 24-karat gold powder to show respect to the birth of hard sound money. He also stands upon a cloud with a silver lining reminding us that there is always hope.
White Moon Rabbit / Three Rabbits
On the opposing cloud you will often see a variety of symbols that represent Nirvana or the liberation from the six realms. Traditionally, a white rabbit is often used in Buddhist recreations of the Bhavacakra.
The rabbit sits in front of a gold moon also on a cloud with a silver lining.
The significance of rabbits and hares throughout history are a rabbit hole in themselves, it was, therefore, only apt that we include them throughout our piece.
The white rabbit, it seems, has always been a spiritual guide.
The Five Poisons
Placed on the crown of Yama are the five poisons, the skulls, its main weapon of fear, aka central banking. We have selected five of the biggest: the euro, the dollar, the pound, the yuan, and the central bank of central banks, the Bank of International Settlements (BIS).
The arms are decorated with waves to represent continual change and impermanence.
The multiple rabbit holes to show the continuous learning curve of Bitcoin, truth seeking and life.
The legs depict the transparency and inner workings of the blockchain, the classic hexagon pattern representing the interconnected nodes, and the cogs representing the clockwork heartbeat of its industrial time-stamping mechanism.
Throughout spirituality, rainbows have a variety of meanings, for example, hope, promise, good luck, new beginnings, transition, equality, communication and peace. We use them here to show the path in and out of life.
The Cowrie Shells
As a respectful nod back to the very first form of currency, we included cowrie shells in the bases of the dark flames that fuel the fiat central banks.
The FAANGs: Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Google
The simple comment here is the potential deadly bite that these organizations represent to humanity if they are left unchecked. The repeated abuse of human rights, privacy and manipulation of choice is well documented.
The Samsara Wheel of Life
The Samsara is made up of four layers.
The First Layer: The Center
Traditionally at the center of the samsara are the three poisons:
- The Snake – Anger
- The Pig – Ignorance
- The Bird – Attachment
These three cyclic poisons are at the heart of what keeps human beings trapped and prevents them from ascending to enlightenment.
In the modern day Bitcoin samsara, we observe things differently:
- War – Anger
- Television – Ignorance
- Fiat Money – Attachment
Humans are attached to money since it is the store and exchange of human value.
War is a multibillion-dollar industry and a controlling mechanism.
People’s ignorance is maintained through distraction and propaganda.
If you have not seen or read Confessions of an Economic Hitman by John Perkins make it a priority.
Our democratic process promotes the notion that we live in a free world and yet this couldn’t be further from the truth. It really doesn’t matter who you vote for, the establishment always gets in.
We live in a corporatocracy and we’re heading for a technocracy.
So, from the eternal cycle of ignorance, anger and attachment we move outward to the second layer.
The Second Layer: The Fourth Turning
In the original Buddhist Bhavacakra, the second wheel represents karma. Karma is a Sanskrit term that means “action” or “doing.” It is the action driven by intention, which leads to future consequences and rebirth into the samsara, the repeating cycle of birth, mundane existence and death. Traditionally, the first circle is split in two halves.
The light half depicts peaceful, fearless humans ascending to the higher realms, whilst the darker half shows humans chained as slaves being pulled down by Yama (fear) to the lower realms.
We felt like taking a slightly different approach giving acknowledgement that the positive and negative influences of this cycle of value don’t just happen at an individual level but play out over generations too.
We, therefore, simply couldn’t find a better source for understanding generational change than Neil Howe and William Strauss’ observation of the Fourth Turning. In particular, we had no better Bitcoin reference to this than Brandon Quittem’s Rhythms of History.
In summary, the Fourth Turning is a theoretical model for recognizing generational cycles globally. A full human cycle is called a “saeculum” and lasts between 80–100 years and is made up of four generations. This cycle always ends in a climatic period of chaos and usually war before turning into a new period of massive cultural change and renaissance.
Our current saeculum started after the Second World War, the 1946 Millennial Saeculum at a glance:
- First Turning – 1946-1964 – Baby Boomers
- Climate: The American High – Rebirth/Spring
- Character: Prophet – principled, yet narcissistic
- Second Turning – 1964-1984 – Gen X
- Climate: Consciousness Revolution – Revolution/Summer
- Character: Nomad – Practical yet unfeeling
- Third Turning – 1984-2008 – Millennials
- Climate: Culture Wars – Unraveling/Fall
- Character: Hero – Competent yet unreflective
- Fourth Turning – 2008-2030? – Gen Z
- Climate: Millennial Crisis – Crisis/Winter
- Character: Artist – Caring yet indecisive
We are currently reaching the climax of the Fourth Turning. This is a tough period but shouldn’t be looked upon as a doom and gloom prophecy.
As Brandon Quittem puts it:
“As a society, we need these moments of crisis. They serve as brush fires to clean out the decrepit institutions to make way for new growth. This generates buy-in from young people. Out with the old and in with the new. Optimistically, it’s a regenerative process allowing the cycle to continue.”
Why This Is So Important Right Now
If you’ve ever listened to Ray Kurzweil speak you will know, the singularity is near.
We are entering a period of ever increasing speed of change.
We are never going to create perfection, but we can decide to aim toward a totalitarian dystopian future or aim toward a more self-sovereign utopian one.
From the top right and moving clockwise, we have the Prophets, the Nomads, the Heros and the Artists, each in its respective part of the saeculum, represented by its season.
In between each group, you see a tree of life, as above so below, each generation is influenced by the three poisons of ignorance, anger and attachment.
Third Layer: The Six Worlds
The third layer represents the six realms of Samsara.
The six realms are split into the three Upper Realms where happiness is greater than suffering and the three Lower Realms where suffering is greater than happiness.
In some representations of the wheel, there is a Buddha depicted within each realm, trying to help sentient beings find their way to Nirvana. We have depicted a rabbit in each realm as the common phrase connected to learning about the Bitcoin standard is to go down the rabbit hole.
In each realm, the rabbit represents the essence of the realm it is in.
Top Center: The God Realm
Traditionally, the God Realm is home to the Devas (read: divas) who have ultimate power and wealth. This may sound like an ideal place to be, but because of their privileged lives, they will never know the reality of being human and so can never escape the wheel or become enlightened.
In this realm, we have placed early miners, whales, people who are already living in a form of citadel. This group of people may have found phenomenal wealth but may not necessarily be in the position of using bitcoin out of necessity. They understand its importance and work to bring the bitcoin standard into existence.
We have chosen to represent the hodlr, the true believer as the Greek God Atlas that was condemned to carry the celestial spheres on his shoulders and personifies the quality of endurance.
Top Right: The Demi-God Realm
In the original Samsara, the Demi God Realm is reflective of ambitious high achievers, business heads and politicians with very strong competitive streaks and jealousy.
In the Bitcoin Bhavacakra, we represent this group with traders, lamborghinis, beach front pads and extravagant displays of wealth.
The collective trait of these people is that they see bitcoin as a way of getting more fiat.
Top Left: The Human Realm
Liberation from the Samsara is only possible from the Human Realm.
The Human Realm is considered to offer the best opportunity to practice the dharma—the universal truth common to all individuals at all times—and it offers an opportunity to attain Nirvana.
Since Nirvana in our interpretation is the freedom from the fiat system and the acceptance of a bitcoin standard, we have depicted in this realm, those who understand the importance of bitcoin as a necessity. They understand the absolute necessity for the separation of money from the state, and so, they have adopted a bitcoin standard either through belief in self-sovereignty or through circumstance.
Some of the people we have depicted include refugees who have literally carried their wealth in the form of 24 words stored in memory, across borders and away from their oppressive state, a Hong Kong protester, and a free thinker cutting ties from debt slavery.
In the middle, you can see a pleb stacking coins, the silver coin is a nod to the “Freedom of the People” coin from the Roman period depicting Libertas, the Goddess of Liberty.
The term pleb originated from the Plebeians, a body of “free Roman citizens” who opposed the elite. They were also known as “commoners.”
In the background, you can see notable activists throughout history who have also fought for humanity.
From left to right: Julian Assange (founder of WikiLeaks), Emmeline Pankhurst (Suffragettes), Martin Luther King (American civil rights movement), Maximilien Robespierre (French Revolution), and Mahatma Gandhi (India’s Independence and Civil Rights globally).
The cuckoo bird relates to “The Birds,” a political fantasy written in 414 BC by the Greek comic dramatist, Aristophanes.
The story tells the tale about two Athenians, fed up with taxes, over regulation and life in the city. The two ended up establishing “Cloud Cuckoo Land,” a land that, in many ways, one might say resembled a free market or a land free from an overwhelming government, aka totalitarianism. It offers an orange pill to anyone wanting to join in building a cloud cuckoo land.
The white rabbit as always gives us a clue on the way out. We decided to have a little fun with our rabbit here giving a reference to the brilliant Douglas Adams and pondered what if we combined his answer to the meaning of life, the universe and everything in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy with Satoshi’s halving.
Bottom Left: Ignorant (Animal Realm)
Traditionally, the beings in this realm are fearful of any change, incurious and go through life seeking comfort. They are, therefore, subject to oppression by other beings.
In our interpretation, we have shown multiple instances of Sisyphus, a king in Greek mythology who was condemned to a life of pushing a boulder up a hill only for it to roll down again. Essentially, people are living paycheck to paycheck in a cycle of debt.
The couple watching TV inside of a “gilded cage” signifies the willingness to give up their freedoms for an easy life.
Bottom Center: Hell Realm
Traditionally, this realm is characterised by anger, terror and claustrophobia caused by isolation.
All of our basic human rights today are either under attack by the state or have already been eliminated.
Freedom of press, freedom of speech, and the right of assembly have been eliminated.
This realm depicts those living under tyrannical regimes that no longer have the opportunities those living in freer societies have to fight for their freedoms.
Hungry Ghost Realm
Tradition says that hungry ghosts have everything but still want more. They are never satisfied and, when they do come close to getting what they want, it is a painful experience. They are characterized by greed and addictions.
We have chosen to include two themes here, the modern day bankers and gold bugs.
There was nothing more fitting than perhaps the most famous banker of them all considering they hold a monopoly on money itself .
You will see the banker is sitting on a toilet and to his left are handy sheets of fiat toilet paper.
The gold scarabs were included since they were the most important amulet to ancient Egyptians used in jewelry and in the burial process of the rich and powerful. Once again, we enjoyed a bit of humor here since these “gold bugs” were historically dung beetles that pushed around fecal matter all day.
Although we have a respect for the modern day gold bug, we feel, since we live in a digital world, the gold bugs, too, will be pushing around their ancient relic of fecal matter.
The buildings in the background are the Chinese Central Bank (left), the European Central Bank (center) and the Federal Reserve (right).
The fourth layer represents the twelve links of dependent origination. This part of the wheel teaches us that everything that happens in life, both inner and outer, has a cause and occurs in certain conditions.
According to Buddhist religion, these are the day-to-day events that distract us and keep us trapped in the endless cycle of rebirth. The fiat Samsara uses different forms of manipulation in order to distract us from seeing its decaying foundations and keep the powers that be holding the reins.
With roots from the Industrial Revolution, consumerism is the human desire to own and obtain products and goods in excess of one’s basic needs. Though this is often referred to as the reason for economic growth and development, it has had negative impacts on society.
Studies have shown that consumerism may result in a shift away from values of community, spirituality and integrity, pushing instead toward competition, materialism and disconnection. Since fiat money decreases in value over time, it incentivizes consumerism.
Lack of Education
The basic schooling model used in most places in the world is more than a century old. It is an industrialized, standardized and very centralized model.
It is a system that does not see the individual and is definitely not fit for the challenges of the 21st century. A public education system, controlled by the government, certainly has an agenda and we should question what that agenda is.
One of the best examples of propaganda in education is the fact you can complete a three-year economics degree at any university in the West and not have learned about fractional reserve banking. Why is this? Surely it should be lesson number one.
No one captured this quite like the legendary rock band, Pink Floyd.
This is a little homage to a cultural icon that opened the eyes of a whole generation with extraordinary music and lyrics.
“We don’t need no education
We don’t need no thought control
No dark sarcasm in the classroom
Teachers leave them kids alone
Hey, teachers, leave them kids alone
All in all it’s just another brick in the wall
All in all you’re just another brick in the wall,”
Division: Two-Party Politics, Divide and Conquer
“Divide and conquer” is a political strategy of gaining and maintaining power by breaking up larger concentrations of power into pieces that are individually weaker than the powers that be.
This method has proven its utility countless times and is being used in our societies as well. We are witnessing times with great and extreme divisions, manipulated with the help of social media outlets. These divisions keep the public fighting among themselves, and the ruling class is free to do as they wish.
Social Engineering: Social Media Manipulation
It is now common knowledge that social media channels and many internet sites collect our data, learn everything they can about us and use sophisticated algorithms to manipulate our thinking.
This has created a post-truth world causing many crisis situations across the world. As Yuval Noah Harari puts it in this interview, “The human mind is being hacked.”
This has tremendous repercussions on our psychological well-being and on where society is headed.
Fear: Wars, Drugs, Viruses, Climate
The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are figures in the Christian faith, appearing in the New Testament‘s final book. The Christian apocalyptic vision is that the Four Horsemen are to set a divine end time upon the world as harbingers of the Last Judgement.
We have depicted the Four Modern Horseman of the Apocalypse, as Steven Levy in his book, Crypto: How the Code Rebels Beat the Government, has named the threats governments use to bestow fear on their population in order to further control and deny basic human rights. The war on drugs, terrorism, health issues and climate change are all depicted as threats to humanity which must be stopped at all cost, including the cost of individual liberty and privacy. This method uses emotional manipulation to achieve its goals.
Nazi leader Hermann Göring explains how people can be made fearful and to support a war they otherwise would oppose:
“The people don’t want war, but they can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. This is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and for exposing the country to danger. It works the same in every country.”
The modern lifestyle and consumerism have created situations where people are incurring punitive levels of debt and working longer hours to pay for their high-consumption lifestyle, which results in them spending less time with family and friends. The ease of the internet, messages and instant emails have created a reality in which work can be done outside of the office, and employees are often expected to be available at all times. The rat race has become a fact of life for many.
This part is based on the painting Corrupt Legislation (1896) by Elihu Vedder, which hangs in the lobby of the Main Reading Room in the Library of Congress, Thomas Jefferson Building, Washington, DC. That painting shows the consequences of poor government.
We commented on this painting with our own version showing the corrupt nature of the central bank system. The central figure is the monopoly man, standing on the chair of the Bank for International Settlements (BIS). At the right of the painting is a lawyer, with an open book, symbolizing the law that can change depending on what is on the scale. At his feet, banknotes fall out of an urn, there are small sacks of grain, and a small portable “safe.”
At the left, pleading with the central figure, is a young girl holding any empty distaff and bobbin for spinning. Behind her are shards from a broken pot and a broken-down wall.
Inflation, Monetary Policy and the Cantillon Effect
Inflation is the general rise in the price level over a period of time. When the price level rises, each unit of currency has less purchasing power and there is a loss of real value in that medium of exchange.
The constant printing of fiat money causes an ongoing decrease in its value. In other words, the “money printer go BRRR,” fiat money becomes toilet paper.
The change in money supply has a specific injection point and, therefore, a specific flow path through the economy. The first recipient of the new supply of money is in the convenient position of being able to spend extra dollars before prices have increased. But whoever is last in line receives his share of new dollars after prices have increased. This is known as the Cantillon Effect.
Free Speech and Censorship
Free speech is considered a pillar of democracy, yet the very places and people that hold that ideology are creating a world where if you hold the wrong opinion you can and will be canceled.
Entertainment: Numbing Distractions
The great lyrics of Pink Floyd help us once again to describe one of the 12 points that keep us in the fiat Samsara. Maybe not the original meaning but it definitely works to describe the numbing effect of streaming channels, television and smartphones on our ability to look at the world with critical eyes.
“Hello? (Hello? Hello? Hello?)
Is there anybody in there?
Just nod if you can hear me
Is there anyone home?
Come on now
I hear you’re feeling down
Well I can ease your pain
There is no pain you are receding
A distant ship smoke on the horizon
You are only coming through in waves
Your lips move but I can’t hear what you’re saying..
I have become comfortably numb
I have become comfortably numb,”
Have you ever seen a post by someone and have your mind blown by how they could ever have gotten to the conclusion they were writing about?
The truth is, they probably look at your posts in the same way.
Social media limits the exposure to diverse perspectives and favors the formation of groups of like-minded users framing and reinforcing a shared narrative, that is, echo chambers.
We like to think that we are all free thinkers, but the reality we choose to see is built through an endless feed on our social media account, television programs, news outlets and radio or podcasts we choose to listen to.
Privacy and Surveillance
“The internet, our greatest tool of emancipation, has been transformed into the most dangerous facilitator of totalitarianism we have ever seen” —Julian Assange.
The people who created the internet understood how important privacy and data protection are. It’s not about not having anything to hide, it’s about fighting for true liberty.
We hope you enjoy it as much as we did making it.
Yonat Vaks, Mosaic.Rocks and Chiefmonkey
Artist. Painting the crazy species I belong to. Currently studying the development of the #bitcoin civilization.
Has smashing it up and putting it all back together in the mosaic world for the last 20 years.
On a relentless quest to spread the word of bitcoin, decentralization and Liquid Democracy. His weapon of choice is his laser cutter and he loves creating visually stimulating pieces that open debate.
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