A Western Buddhist's Travels

Sightseeing & detours on the path of enlightenment

Are we living in the hungry ghost realm?

Hearing the song Heaven on Earth, by Belinda Carslisle lead me to thinking of the old saying hell on earth. This came about because I have been reading a little about the different realms Buddhism refers to. In the hungry ghost realm, there are beings called Pretas: described as having fat bellies, thin necks, constantly stuffing themselves, yet never sated. This sounds an awful lot like a lot of people in the world, suffering from the affliction of consumerism. Looking for the next flavor of the day, or replacing their computer or mobile phone, not because of needing the new features, but because newer is more prestigious. Looking around even relationships are seen as disposable, forever has, come to mean until someone new comes along. I know someone who in the last few years has averaged over 4 new mobile phones per year, sometimes not even a month between purchases. I mention this because to this day, he only uses them for phone calls and sms messaging. All those time management features, the millions of apps, the megapixel camera, gps enabled maps and directions are not used. However he is proud of having the newest gadget. Being someone who is not only trying to tread lightly, as I walk along this earth, but to not use more then I need, this serves as a reminder. The Dalai Lama is said to have been in a shopping centre smiling, as he saw all the modern labour saving gadgets. Smiling as he pointed to items, one after the other stating I don’t need this, I don’t need that. If I do purchase something as a replacement, I need to either find a way to reuse the previous item. Perhaps giving it to someone, who could make good use of it. Alternatively I can donate it to a charity that can resell it with the profits used to support good works. If neither of these applies, then if possible see to it, that it is properly recycled. Just discarding it should be a last resort.


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