Hungry Ghosts: What Eats at Us, Eats at Our Money

In Buddhist beliefs, there are six worlds. On the wheel of life, the world of the Hungry Ghosts is the largest of the four forming the actual wheel. The landscape of this shadow world is desolate, written in shades of gray and white, and fraught with yearning. For what we yearn, we may know not.

This relentless desire to hold and control is the opposite of the energies of growth and rebirth we normally associate with Spring Equinox, but this emotional Pisces new moon coincided with an eclipse window, opening the door to both light and shadow. Those who struggle with the descent into darkness at this time may be wrestling in this toxic world of Hungry Ghosts. We recognize this possibility because our experience with them can be painful. In Western mythologies, we may be the gift-bearing Inanna to their inner angry Erishkegal, while they are the dark side to our inner mirror.

As humans, each of us experiences life as a Hungry Ghost at some point in our lives. As Hungry Ghosts, we are driven by cravings which mask our displaced desire for something to be different. Often, this wanting we can’t quite put a finger on shows up in our money lives, and in our business.

For me, when I enter the world of the Hungry Ghosts, it first shows up in my life and business as restlessness. It may present as a craving for a new city, lifestyle, office, house. I imagine and desire a different life. From the shadow world, I sometimes watch my current life from afar as though it belongs to someone else, as though it were the shadow, not the reality. If my thoughts get caught in a loop, the desire for difference takes over and my reality becomes painful with lack of fulfillment.

The yearning takes the form of thoughts of escape, and struggles to move forward, a butterfly in a cocooned straightjacket made of wisps, of sylphs, of invisible ties that bind.

Instead of escaping to re-create my life, I shop. I focus on the textures of the fabrics, the colors, the rhythm of the flipping of hangers, to bring me back to reality. But inside, I am still hungry.

In seeking fulfillment, I over-shop.  My life and I are colorless, so I buy color. Instead of eating what I love, I overeat. Instead of de-cluttering my house, I look for the next place I’ll call home. During these times, I can barely repress the expression of the reality I wish I had. I feel a tightness in my throat for the words I do not say, and a weight in my heart for those I do.

HungryGhostScrollKyotoHungry Ghosts Scroll, Kyoto, Japan.

During the darkest times, food becomes tasteless and I drop weight, feeling the Hungry Ghosts deep in my gut. Joy is out of reach, receded like a low tide, ripeness and plenty lie out of reach, and everything I touch turns to cinders.

I become Hungry Ghosts. Each of us becomes Hungry Ghosts. How do we know? We

  1. buy things. Sometimes just for the need to buy something, anything, to prove we are here.
  2. splurge against our own desires as a form of self-sabotage.
  3. cannot control our spending.
  4. become obsessed with having an object of our desire.
  5. are preoccupied with savings, our checking balance.
  6. hoard, living on the minimum possible instead of allowing luxury into our life.
  7. pile up money for our own sake, not for others’.

When we buy one thing as a substitute for something else, or exhibit forms of unaware self-sabotage, we are neither conscious nor fulfilled. We are Hungry Ghosts with our desires surrounding us, binding us to our own unspoken yearnings.

The problem with being a Hungry Ghost is that we eat ourselves up from the inside, and undermine ourselves through our unhealthy use of our life force energy expressed as money.

To survive, we need either to release the cravings, desires, and the suffering of being unfulfilled, or we must take action to bring the thing our heart desires most into reality. The in-between place between the two is a form of limbo, where we wait for something to justify the change we want to see, we want to be, in the world.

I am grateful to be a witness to others’ experience of this phenomenon this year, rather than currently living the experience. But others may be living with the hungry ghosts of a parent, a partner, or a co-worker. We see the self-destructive behaviors and know those for what they are. Or, we’ve there ourselves, looking for a way out.

What happens when you’re dealing in the world of the Hungry Ghosts?

Sherri L. McLendon, MA, operates Professional Moneta International, a marketing public relations consultancy. Learn more about her conscious business coaching for spirit-rich women at http://www.womenspiritandmoney.biz.

 

 

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