In Tibetan Buddhism Hungry Ghosts (Tib. ཡི་དྭགས་, Wyl. yi dwags, Sanskrit: preta) have their own realm depicted on the Bhavacakra and are represented as teardrop or paisley-shaped with bloated stomachs and extremely thin necks to pass food such that attempting to eat is also incredibly painful. So, these ghosts have bellies as vast as mountain valleys and mouths like the hole of a needle. Even if they find food or drink, they cannot consume it. Thus they suffer from hunger and thirst. This is a metaphor for people futilely attempting to fulfill their illusory physical desires and their failure in utilizing available resources which should have been adequate to satisfy their needs and necessities.
I started reasoning how human beings can conceptually turn into hungry ghosts. Why so much fuss over an incessant restlessness and never satisfying desires under the hood of ignorance? Instead, why not actually enhance our lives by leveraging the current accessible assets? We need to question more often about why we want a certain thing, does it align to our goal, would it bring us deep happiness and contentment? No job is great and all lives have been created equally capable — so obviously your job and life status does not quantify your happiness quotient in life. In one of the seminars at Wharton, on correlation between happiness and income in United States, as Prof. Shell says, a wise angel (a person from public community on the campus) said what you need for happiness are only— a good health, meaningful work and love. Steve Jobs in his legendary commencement speech at Stanford said — “Your time is limited and don’t waste it living someone else’s life”. The key here is that we need to live our own version of life with our unique set of skills and personalities. We need to have our personal scripts on happiness, contentment and success. We need to start investing every moment of our life on meeting our own personal goals which would “actually” makes us happy.
Instead of wealth, we should focus on achieving financial security. Fame is momentary so we should rather invest our energy and time towards gaining respect and nurturing relationships. We should stop seeking shallow friendships and instead try finding friends of virtue.
“The unexamined life is not worth living” — Socrates
If we are born into certain circumstances, we need to question the cultural influences, social influences, family influences as we grow. We need to examine things before accepting/adapting/changing it. This is the only way to evolve. Socrates was tried for his thoughtfulness in 399 BC but the world is no longer the way it was back then. We are free to preach our views without hesitation.
The Death of Socrates (French: La Mort de Socrate) is an oil on canvas painted by French painter Jacques-Louis David in 1787. The painting focuses on a classical subject like many of his works from that decade, in this case the story of the execution of Socrates as told by Plato in his Phaedo. In this story, Socrates has been convicted of corrupting the youth of Athens and introducing strange gods, and has been sentenced to die by drinking poison hemlock. Socrates uses his death as a final lesson for his pupils rather than fleeing when the opportunity arises, and faces it calmly. The Phaedo depicts the death of Socrates and is also Plato’s fourth and last dialogue to detail the philosopher’s final days, which is also detailed in Euthyphro, Apology, and Crito. In the painting, an old man (Socrates) in a white robe sits upright on a bed, one hand extended over a cup, the other gesturing in the air. He is surrounded by other men of varying ages, most showing emotional distress, unlike the stoic old man. The young man (prosecutor) handing him the cup looks the other way, with his face in his free hand. Another young man clutches the thigh of the old man. An elderly man sits at the end of the bed, slumped over and looking in his lap. To the left, other men are seen through an arch set in the background wall. Socrates could have escaped into exile but he chose to die to demonstrate that death is not be feared by the philosophers but embraced as an apotheosis of the soul.
You might wonder how hungry ghosts and thoughtfulness of Socrates relate to each other. They are essentially complementary to each other. Hungry ghosts are symbolical of suffering from thoughtlessness and hence never feel fulfilled. But, if we can inject Socrates’s thoughtfulness into these creatures, the problem is resolved and these ghosts would go extinct. The two stories inspire to introspect if we have ever been a hungry ghost by lacking thoughtfulness. Do we relentlessly seek attention, do we just do things for momentary happiness/contentment, do we pursue things just for the sake of doing it even when it doesn’t fall into the bigger picture of our life goal? If the answer is yes to any of these questions, we need to mend our ways and plan better to reach our destinations. We should contemplate today to figure out what we would like to achieve before we die. And every effort post that should be directed to achieving our personal and professional goals. Only this effort can transform ourselves from miserable hungry ghosts to happy human beings.
https://www.coursera.org/learn/wharton-succcess — course on Success by Prof. Richard Shell.
Hungry ghost is a concept in Chinese Buddhism, Chinese traditional religion, Vietnamese Buddhism and Vietnamese…