First, we here at the Reincarnationist wish you a delightful and food-filled Thanksgiving. Second, we hope that you will never, ever, ever become a “hungry ghost“. What is a hungry ghost, you may ask? It is something quite profound in terms of the afterlife, something that we hope to avoid becoming, something that by living a fulfilled life we hope to steer clear from. A hungry ghost is the scary type of ghost, the needy ghost who bangs around the attic hoping to stir up some delicious energy from those living beings downstairs…warm energy to feed off of because, well, energy is what ghosts eat.
(Above: William Blake painted the most intense image of a hungry ghost that I have ever seen: The Ghost of a Flea circa 1819-20.)
Hungry ghosts appear in many traditions from Buddhism to the Book of Enoch. Even the vampire legend has its foot in the concept of the hungry ghost.
In terms of Buddhist states of existence in the wheel of life, the hungry ghost is characterized by “Greed; Insatiable cravings; Addictions. “I want this, I need this, 1 have to have this”. This is the realm of intense craving. The Hungry Ghosts are shown with enormous stomachs and tiny necks – they want to cat, but cannot swallow; when they try to drink. the liquid turns to fire, intensifying their thirst. The torture of the hungry ghost is not so much the frustration of not being able to get what he wants. rather it is his clinging to those things he mistakenly thinks will bring satisfaction and relief. The Buddha in this Realm holds a Bowl from which the ‘gifts of the gods’ are distributed. This is to entice the hungry ghosts to desire for the Truth which is the only way that the deepest longings and hungers can be satisfied. Consider: ‘Gollum’ from Lord of the Rings; The obssessive nature of Video Games; Addictions of various sorts; We can be helped in this Realm by our willingness to ‘look up’, to see beyond our obsessions.”
So, as we consume the bounty of our Thanksgiving feasts and express our thanks for all of the love in our lives, let’s also be thankful that we are are not hungry ghosts, and while we’re at it, let’s leave a lovely morsel of compassionate energy and a kind wish on the table for any hungry ghosts that happen to wander by…
Cheers to the truth, that it will keep us from hunger.
(Click here for an interactive tour of The Wheel of Life.)