This wheel is also called the dharma chakra or the dhamma chakka and is often used to represent Buddha himself. It has also universally become the symbol for Buddhism. The dharma wheel has eight spokes, which represent Buddha’s Eightfold Path.

The three components of the wheel - hub, spokes, and rim - symbolize the three aspects of the Buddhist teachings upon integrities, wisdom, and attentiveness. The central hub represents ethical discipline, which centres and stabilizes the mind. The sharp spokes represent wisdom or discriminating awareness, which cuts through ignorance. The rim represents meditative concentration, which both encompasses and facilitates the motion of the wheel. A wheel with a thousand spokes, which emanate like the rays of the sun, represents the thousand activities and teachings of the Buddhas. A wheel with eight spokes symbolizes the Buddha’s Eightfold Noble Path, and the transmission of these teachings towards the eight directions.

When four swirls are depicted they are usually colored to correspond to the four directions and elements, and symbolize the Buddha’s teachings upon the Four Noble Truths. The rim of the wheel may be depicted as a simple circular ring, often with small circular gold embellishments extending towards the eight directions.

The Buddha’s first discourse at the Deer Park in Sarnath, where he first taught the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Noble Path, is known as his ‘first turning of the wheel of dharma’.