To Feed A Hungry Ghost

In the news: another young adult from a western culture runs off to join a radical terrorist group known for its viciousness and total disregard for human life. All done based on the belief that ‘we are right and they are wrong.’

Disillusioned by the trappings of materialistic greed, unable to find happiness in ‘things,’ the young (or old) may go in the opposite direction and turn to religious fanaticism – the complete surrender of the supposed self to a higher cause – even if it means sacrificing one’s life. Or, conversely, someone living under a dictatorship or other oppressive regime might escape to a democratic country, join the military, and fight for its particular definition of freedom.

Most young adults want to know what life is all about. Why are we here? What’s the point? They want to know because they still have vestiges of their newborn innocence, openness, and curiosity. Even as they are being swept into the mainstream of mindless mediocrity, instinct tells them no, no, no, this is not the way, there is something more meaningful – there was something more meaningful, but I’ve lost it. But society says yes, yes, yes, this is the only way – you are basically a slave to your thoughts (beliefs), feelings, sensations, and perceptions, and we know the way to manage them.

But as long as we identify with these fleeting qualities of the body, mind, and world, we create a false sense of separation, which breeds isolation, loneliness, helplessness, depression, and despair. When a young mind is assured that fighting for some random idea of freedom will make them part of something greater, something powerful and dominating, this sounds like a real sense of purpose, a true sense of self-fulfillment.

The problem is that the separate self can never be satisfied because it is not real. You can’t satisfy something that doesn’t exist. It’s like trying to feed a hungry ghost. The only thing that is real is that which never comes and goes, in which all appearances arise and are known by, not, as we commonly think, some ephemeral thought or perception.

Our essential being, everyone’s essential nature, call it consciousness or awareness, is that which is always present and aware, untouched, unchanged, unstained by all appearances, yet contains all objects of the mind, body, and world. And because of its infinite and eternal nature there cannot be two. We are one, and one cannot harm one. The knife cannot cut itself. And our, its, essence is peace and love.