In the Buddhist tradition, a Hungry Ghost is a ghost with a massive belly but an unbearable small throat. Hungry Ghost want to eat to fill the hunger of their monstrous bellies but their throats are so small that enough food never goes through. So, they are constantly hungry, constantly seeking to fill the void that is their stomachs, but they never do get enough.
In case you haven’t cottoned on quite yet, this is a pretty precise parallel to us, the human race.
Especially in our “see it, need it now” society, in which we are always looking outside our lives and saying “That over there, if I have that, I would be happy.”, “Once I have enough money to do this, I will be happy.”, “If I lived there, I’d be happy.”
We hardly ever focus on the moment of our lives in which we are currently residing. We hardly ever look around us and appreciate the copious amounts of blessings that are poured on us daily. We hardly ever look around us and appreciate the people in our lives for who they truly are instead of whom we expect them to be, or appreciate the trees in our yard, the sky above our heads, the food we eat, our ability to keep breathing from moment to moment, our ability to think and to feel, and we almost NEVER appreciate ourselves.
The monster that is consumerism is constantly whispering in our ear, saying ‘You are not complete, you are not enough.” They do this so that we will buy more things, to fill our hungry void. Because we look around at our possessions and we believe they define us, we believe that these things are truly ours, that because we have them, our life is improved, that WE are improved.
Realize your hungering, your desires to add more and more to your life as an attempt to BE more. And before you act on these hungerings, stop.
Look around you. Look at how the sunlight hits the artwork in your living room, look at how the wind lightly rustles the trees in your yard. Look at the people around you, look at how they smile, how they laugh, their little quirks that make them so uniquely them, and realize your unconditional love for them without expecting them to be a certain way. Look at yourself, look at each part of your body and realizing all the things those body parts allow you to do, realize that this beautiful body is a vessel for your soul, that it doesn’t need to be ten pounds lighter to serve you well, it is doing a damn great job as it is, and how it looks rarely corresponds to how well it does its job. Look at your spirit, your true self, realize your brilliant attributes, realize your many talents, realize your patience, or your inherent generosity, or your artistic ability. Realize that you have all of these things in rich abundance.
You are not in need. Feel how full your life is, savor the richness of your being. Then feel that hungering void fade away. Because you don’t need that purse to be the caring person you are, you don’t need to move to find meaning or substance, you don’t need the newest Apple product to be a beautiful being, you don’t need those shoes to enjoy spending time with your friends, to enjoy a thunderstorm, to enjoy being able to exist, to revel in the brilliance of this human experience.
You have all you need, your throat is reasonably sized as well as your stomach. You don’t not need to add and consume more and more. You need to take away. You need to remove all the insubstantial things that block the spring of wellness and joy in your life. You need to give up t.v. time and enjoy your children’s playful presence. You need to give up spending $50 on a night out drinking, and enjoy the movements of your body as it dances the night away. You need to give up shopping sprees and enjoy a cup of tea, good music, a walk in the park, a craft brunch with friends.
You don’t have to be a hungry ghost. You don’t have a void to fill, so when you add, add, add and consume, consume, consume, you just end up drowning and suffocating in a sea of things, a sea of hunger, a sea of never being satisfied; a tide so high that you cannot see the vibrant sky, the openness of being open to all things, of accepting all things, or appreciating all things; the peace of being entirely full on what you already have.