The King of Swords is a master of the mental realm. He perceives reality truly. He is an enlightened being, liberated from the shackles that imprison the mind and spirit. Being liberated, he is free to act upon the world with the tender heart that comes from realizing the dream-like nature of reality and from firsthand experience with the impermanence of all things.
This King holds two Swords of Truth, or two lessons at his sides: 1, the material world is an illusion; and 2, all things die and nothing is permanent.
The Devil in this deck shows a bison that looks real, but almost seems like he’s not really there. This card often symbolizes the material world. To me, it is a symbol for the manifest world, Samsara. The mists that partially hide the bison remind of Mara, the demon that sought to distract the Buddha as he reached enlightenment; and of how Jesus was tempted by the devil into caving in to false concepts of reality. This world we are in is real in a way, but at the same time it is not. It is a dream we enter as souls while donning a suit of human incarnation. Here, we have lessons to learn; debts to release; awakenings to realize. But this place is ultimately illusory. Important, but ultimately empty. The “real” world cannot be grasped by the senses. Attachment to the material world is the source of much of our suffering.
The second truth of the King is Death: all things are impermanent. That means that you and I, our loved ones, and all that we hold dear will one day come to an end. While this may be a sad thought to behold, it also means that our suffering and the sources thereof will one day be extinguished. But the main lesson is that a radical, gut-wrenching, soul-transformational release of the false belief in the permanence of things which are impermanent is paramount to awakening and to a life liberated from suffering.
Today, practice in living between two worlds. Remember who you are. In this world, but not of it.