In Buddhist cosmology, the realm of the hungry ghosts is a barren place populated by beings with emaciated bodies and yawning mouths. Starving but unable to take in or assimilate what they so desperately need. The problem lies in their constricted throats – which cannot open for nourishment. Wandering aimlessly in search of relief that is not forthcoming.
So here’s the question – can you relate to these heart wrenching, starving creatures? Ask yourself these questions: Is it hard for you to take a compliment? Do you think about the next bite of food as you are chewing the one in your mouth? Do you feel like nothing is ever enough? Are you in debt? Is it hard to take a good, deep breath? Are you greedy and protective of what’s yours? Hard to be generous? If you struggle with oral addiction – food, alcohol, pills, or pot you likely have a case of the hungry ghosts. Straining to soothe the inner emptiness and turning to the big guns. Problem is, as you know all too well, your efforts to quell only creates more emptiness within.
If you recognize yourself in the above, don’t be too down on yourself. Remember, we live in a culture designed to create hungry ghosts. What do you think drives the consumer industry? Creatures that are starving for sustenance and unable to assimilate what is provided are reliably ready to consume the next product offered. If you were not raised in a home brimming with love and designed to inculcate patience, trust and grace then you are more susceptible to the false promises buzzing through the media.
Where do you begin to remedy this problem. You begin within. The hungry ghost is actually a metaphor for an empty self. What fills the inner void is not a pizza, a car or a new handbag. Rather, it is values, purpose and relationship. Strengthening and widening the self creates a structure that is then able to assimilate nutrients. Ask yourself what really matters in your life. How can you feed meaning, purpose and relationship? Often the remedy begins with learning to value and affirm your own experience, whatever it is.