The Hungry Ghost is a creature that occurs in several eastern philosophies and religions. Depicted with an emaciated body, a huge and empty belly, a long thin neck and a tiny mouth, these creatures wander their realm seeking food and drink to satiate their unending hunger. However, their tiny mouth and thin neck prevent them from being able to eat enough to be full, and so they exist in perpetual lack of the things they most desire. This belief in scarcity leads to the objectification of what will allow the lack to be satiated.
Many eastern countries hold festivals and celebration days for the hungry ghosts, setting out food and drink for them. Similarly, several temple tapestries depict the ghosts following others around, trying to lap-up spilled water or discarded food. But, no matter how much is given to them, or how many scraps they find, their tiny mouths and thin necks leave them wanting.
“This image [of the hungry ghost] keeps coming back to me because it symbolizes so dramatically in a physical way the emotional condition of our time: profound hunger for love and connection that cannot be satisfied because we have been trained in isolation to such a degree that most of us cannot receive sufficient love, even when it’s offered.” -Miki Kashtan
In some religions, Hungry Ghosts are the remnants of those who were unable to find fulfillment in their corporeal life. Their bodies, as Kashtan notes, remind us that the challenge lies not in the world, which has plenty to give, but within the practices we have cultivated, in our own inability to take in and find nourishment in the ‘food’ that is all within us.
When you find your neck too thin, and your mouth too small, wonder ‘what beliefs are not allowing me to see nourishment in this moment?’ Search for some self-empathy, a little Compassionate Communication and Your Storied Life review, Forgiveness, and Mindfulness. Broaden your possibilities and in doing so, you open yourself to your whole self. This whole self is the experience that you have enough of everything…including time, resources, love, energy, space, etc.