Six Realms: The Ghost Realm
Continuing our conversation about the six realms, starting with the Hell Realm now onto the Ghost Realm. Often referred to as the hungry ghost realm. This particular realm has probably the strongest resonance with me and I believe many people who've grow up in extreme poverty. Just to recap according to the Buddhist teaching the six realms are the following:
- The Hell Realm
- The Ghost Realm
- The Animal Realm
- The Human Realm
- The Titan Realm
- The God Realm
Note: none of these realms are realms to want to reside in emotionally. Nor are you confined to one particular realm. As we'll chat about later we can transition from one emotional realm almost fluid like. The point is these realms illustrate what our desires and emotions are experiencing. And hopefully how to better or help ourselves be awake and present.
The Ghost Realm is in my opinion one of the most intriguing realms. In the Ghost Realm you're always hungry but never fed, always grasping but never attaining. It's really no surprise when Hollywood and timeless stories portray ghosts as these formless apparitions unable to reach out to the living. It's when we feel unfortunate, without, or in constant need that we're living our lives as hungry Ghosts. It also encompasses a toxic hope I refer to as a "lotto mentality". Always looking for more and more with a magical mind that says you'll be happy when or if these wishes come true.
People that have experienced poverty get what I'm talking about. You want to spring from your circumstances but nothing seems to come your way. You're thirsty or hungry or naked or without some necessities. When you're in this emotional state you're in the Ghost Realm. But how do we get out of it?
Only within this last year did I realize how deeply I was plagued by this poverty mindset, this hungry ghost realm. How I had been forcing myself to live in this Ghost Realm. Where I felt in constant need. However the truth is, it's not need but greed that keeps me in this realm.
There's an innate desire to always make ourselves look good. It's something deeper than I can fully understand. Yet there's also a cultural nobility at least in America to always look busy, to be productive. This pattern like behavior leads us into all sorts of troubles and when we touch on the other realms it's pretty obvious. However this constant push for more and more in our lives, and believing that that desire is noble, is in my opinion the greatest emotional evil that keeps us in the hungry Ghost Realm. Thinking what I'm craving is a need when in reality it's GREED!
My father was the prime example of greed for me. Throughout my life the lion's share of our conversations revolved around his two favorite topics: lust and money. How to have it and how keep it. His whole world was painted in that light. Now for myself growing up in many ways diametrically opposed to my father on almost every idea, I still felt the effects of my father's greedy passive aggressive sentiments. While I was a penniless artist, musician, and naive hippy Jesus freak. He was a stuffy self serving amoral business man, always looking for an angle to exploit people. As I mentioned in previous posts I didn't have much of a relationship with my father, especially before I was 13. My father was a force in part of my life. All parents or parental guardians are. He was also much a force of evil and his efforts left a mark. Of that mark was for quite sometime a broken record in my head. The record said to me my worth was external. That I didn't have enough, or that I didn't matter until I had enough.
To be completely candid you can see even here why it was beneficial for me to remove this toxin from my life, regardless of him sharing DNA with me. This ever unsatisfied person imbued a poverty mindset that clung to my early extreme experiences of being poor, homeless, hungry and alone. You see the hungry ghost realm keeps you there by many methods but all of them are lies. Being homeless isn't the end, what is home but an external comfort. Anything external can be taken from you. And a poverty mind makes you an emotional prisoner.
Perhaps these ideas are too simplistic for you. Yet for me escaping the hungry ghost realm or at minimum realizing I was there for so long helped dissolve the fear and greed that tries to keep me there.
I'll leave with one last story. When I was a child I would often have a series of reoccurring nightmares. One particular nightmare was that of being trapped in a dark windowless room with a terrifying floating head. This head would rush towards me to frighten me. And I would lose all since of direction. Years later I would discover this prison with the scary face was a manifestation of my childhood lack of agency. I was as a child unable to change my circumstances. I was forced into someone else's will for my life much, like all children. Yet I'm no longer a child. I'm not helpless. You're not helpless. Hope, real hope, hope to be awake and present is but a breath away. And when I see a conditional happiness I can see it's truthfully greed not need that keeps me in chains.
thank you so much for following my journey. Be well and be encouraged.