This multi-artist work is a contemporary, secular interpretation of the Wheel of Existence, a visual representation of Buddhist beliefs about life, death, and rebirth. Yama, the Lord of Death, holds the wheel, which contains concentric circles of existence. From the center outward these are: the three spiritual poisons, the dark path and light path, the realms of existence and the twelve links of dependent origination, or indications to the origins of suffering. All of these existences are considered by Buddhists to be deceptive reality while beyond the wheel is ultimate reality, or nirvana, traditionally signaled by a depiction of the Buddha pointing to the dharmachakra, or "wheel of teachings."
The Rubin Museum of Art commissioned this work in conjunction with the exhibition Hero, Villain, Yeti: Tibet in Comics, inviting eight American comic artists to reinterpret segments of the Wheel of Existence based on their own artistic practices and experiences. The selected artists work in a range of styles and mediums, from conventional superhero comics to non-fiction illustration, lending a playful diversity to this composite work.