I always thought the Buddhist realms of existence were interesting, and I've learned to seek out higher realms for myself, and notice other realms in my behaviour. Here are the different realms as traditional Buddhists see it:
the God realm: Easiest to reach enlightenment through
Demi-God realm: very jealous realm
Human realm: When your focus should be on the Dhamma
animal realm: realm of ignorance
Preta realm: the hungry ghost realm
hell realms: why must there be more than one?
The realm I am most drawn to is the Preta realm, or the hungry ghost realm. In traditional Buddhist depictions (I always bother to say traditional in hopes that you would understand that not all traditional beliefs are my own...I love the use of Progressive Buddhism as a rule) this realm is filled with beings with really skinny necks and huge stomachs. They are never satisfied...they have an unsatiable appetite for something specific and when they actually view food or water, they are so delusional that they believe they are seeing blood, bile....all the disgusting things they believe they don't want. They are running from their own freedom.
Doesn't that sound strangely familiar to Dante's third circle?
Anyway, I keep thinking about this realm...and how we could partially be stuck in every realm, in different aspects of our lives. This realm is the easiest to recognize throughout our daily lives.
How often do we run after things that we know aren't good for us? I talked in an earlier post about chasing delusions, and I think that ties in here nicely, so refer back to that one, if you will. That thought actually spawned this one last night.
Addiction. Seems to be a constant trend Recovery is becoming a natural part of many people's lives, however AA and other groups are specific in their addictions. They have the addictions that can quickly kill you and ruin your life. Easily said, and easily proven. Millions of alcoholics and addicts ruin their lives and kill themselves and ruin everyone else's life they know in the process. They need alternate lifestyles and support groups in order to alleviate said addictions.
But look beyond the obvious. Look at accepted addictions.
According to research from the Weston A. Price Foundation, the average person has over 600 12-ounce servings of soft drinks per year. Also, since 1978 soft drink consumption has tripled for boys and doubled for girls.
Over 112 million people voted for American Idol contestants....
Right now, over $888,000,000 has been spent in the War Against Terrorism.
What kind of addictions have we gotten ourselves into? Obesity is at an all-time high, we can't control what seeds are being watered in our minds, and we choose to spend our country's money on war. It's getting really bad.
I think it's great we have focused on the addictions that ruin the body, but it's time to focus on those that ruin our spirits. No more should we allow reality television to fill the void where a marriage should be. Don't let it team up with video games to raise your children, either. Drop the soda and grab a water. Understand the true meaning of peace instead of the plastic earrings that you wear. It is a symbol of something that used to have meaning. When did it get lost?
Of course, I am speaking to myself as much as I am to anyone. An old Buddhist saying goes something like "if you let a drop of water fall on a rock, it will do nothing, but if you continue to let it fall, it will shape the rock"...something like that.
The hungry ghost will never be fed. It will always be what it is. Hungry, and a ghost.
Just food for thought. (The healthy kind)