“,,,when we offer food to the hungry ghost, the ceremony always begins with a dharani for the hungry ghost to help increase the size of their throats so that they can receive our offerings. In classical Buddhist literature, hungry ghosts are described as having a big belly but a very tiny throat–so even though they are always very hungry they are never able to take in enough nourishment. There are many kinds of hungry ghosts that need our help to transform their suffering. They are hungry for love and understanding but because they are so suspicious, because their hearts are not open enough, they cannot receive our love and compassion.
“All the hungry ghost bear great injustices in themselves and that is why they have become hungry ghosts. Many of us are victims of injustice, and if there is no compassion and understanding there is no way we can undo the knot of injustice within ourselves and become free. We still continue to suffer if no one can help us undo the knot of injustice in our heart.
“There are so many hungry ghosts in the world. Many of them are caught in their situation and have no opportunity to experience the kind of safe, calm, stable space that will allow them to get in touch with what is nourishing and healing…they will be hungry ghosts all their lives, wandering aimlessly in suffering, destroying themselves physically and mentally.
“Hungry ghosts are drive by the habit energy in themselves. They may want to tear up the new roots, they may not be able to feel peace, they may not be capable of establishing themselves in the here and now. …it is important for us to become aware of the habit energy in ourselves. It is always pushing us to tear up our roots, to play the role of a wandering soul, a hungry ghost. We can become so used to being a hungry ghost that staying in one place becomes very difficult. So we practice mindful breathing and recognize that the habit energy of being a hungry ghost is still very strong in us.
“All of us who are the friends of the Earth-Store Bodhisattva must pool our ideas and energies to help the many hungry ghosts in our family, community, and society…
~Thich Nhat Hanh, Opening the Heart of the Cosmos
The images within this posting were drawn from the internet and reflect historical representations of hungry ghosts.