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Addiction and the Realm of Hungry Ghosts as Metaphor

In Buddhist cosmology, the realm of hungry ghosts is one of the Six Realms of Desire, being the second after the Hells.

These realms are metaphorical destinations where people are reborn due to the "evil" passions of strong emotions (anger, hate, fear, lust, jealousy, happiness, attachment, desire, etc).

What is so evil about strong emotions? That one may err and harm self or others or worse, both self and others. We have heard of crimes of passion where a murder is justified due to strong emotions clouding the judgment of the murderer who killed her lover due to jealousy.

Could even a child of two who hits his one-year old brother on the head with a hoe be due to evil passions? Yes, especially when the young lad runs like hell to the neighbor's property to escape justice at the hands of his mother!

Addiction is akin to being in the realm of hungry ghosts. In this way, reincarnation may be used as a metaphor to explain daily living.

Ever wonder why some practicing Buddhists could be so stoic? They have practiced meditation to calm the mind and maintain control over the biggest addiction of all: the passions.

For a Buddhist, passions (strong emotions) are evil in the sense that they almost lead one to the Hells when regularly experienced.

Such an addiction to emotions is an evil because a person could lose sight of the goal of Buddhism: to cease rebirth by putting out the flames of evil passion, and thus enter Nirvana.

How might one enter Nirvana? In this lifetime? Or, the next? Before answering the first question, the answer to the second and the third is, it depends on your past actions, your present actions and your future action. As well, the karma of your past may prevent Nirvana in this life. It might even prevent Nirvana in the next.

Below I give a rough guide to Samatha-vipassana meditation. Samatha is the meditation of stillness, while Vipassana may combine both sitting and walking meditation. If I have erred here, please correct me and I'll credit you and correct the text.

By sitting on his ass in contemplation of bliss, the Buddha practiced the meditation of stillness.

If this isn't your style, then the second method is useful as a guide

By walking while in silent meditation on a koan the Buddhist may find it possible to go beyond peace of mind.

Even though the strict Zen practitioners decry reading a sutra or even writing down one's thoughts, due to the risk of stirring up evil passion, the first meditation in stillness shows that even passions will dissipate when carefully observed.

What good then is the walking meditation?

It makes it possible to realize the meaning of this koan:

"What is your face before you were born?"

Answer: The face before I was born is not the face I was born with. For karma dictates that a practitioner may never know the face before being born. Yet he can be assured that it is not the face he was born with.

Nor will it be the face of my next birth, which brings us to a koan of my own: "What is your face after you die?" The answer is, "It's not the face I was born with nor the face before I was born."

Yet this is not reincarnation, but the transmigration of karma.

However, meditation when practiced with a true Buddha buddy beats sitting still alone.

Hungry Ghosts:

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