The Buddha, The Dharma, The Sangha

"Spiritual powers and their wondrous functioning--hauling water and carrying firewood." --Layman Pang, upon his realization

Monday, October 22, 2012

What Do Your Ghosts Look Like?

 Hamlet and His Father's Ghost, by Henry Fuseli

Soon we will be celebrating Segaki, the ceremony of feeding the hungry ghosts!  This is easily one of my favorite Liturgies, coming for us in the middle of Autumn, just around Halloween, as it does in many Western Buddhist Sanghas, a celebration of honoring and releasing what no longer serves us or nurtures our Buddha Nature.
But lest you imagine you do not possess Gaki's that require feeding and releasing, let me just quote the Boss: "Everybody's got a hungry heart, Everybody's got a hungry heart, Lay down your money and you play your part, Everybody's got a hungry heart!"*
*Thanks Bruce!

Some Hungry Ghosts are relatively benign.  Like Casper, these ghosts smile and giggle childishly, poking fun at beliefs that seems so critical and buttress a self that is as whispy and ephemeral as Casper himself.  Where is this self that we try so hard to maintain, as if chiseled in stone?  We can look everywhere, but it doesn't exist.  And the more we attempt to feed this self, the hungrier we become, because there is little true nourishment in this feeding. This feeding does not reach the core, it will not slide down our reed-thin throats. 

Ghosts that overwhelm the universe come in all shapes and sizes, from the personal carelessness of an intentional slight, to being dragged from bed in the middle of the night only to watch your family vanish at the hands of other human beings.
Or ghosts of depression, psychosis and psychological torment that go un-noticed, un-treated, and that finally explode like a bomb packed with shrapnel, leaving us all wounded in some way, if we are still physically alive.

Delusions are so damn endless!

As Bodhisattvas, we vow to end delusion.  How do we "do" this without becoming crippled by our suffering, without hardening the big heart of Bhodichitta we can each command?  Each of us must find a way and no two ways are alike.
My Dad, who has been gone now for over 12 years, used to say, "Ya Ya Yaka-pa-chinski!"* when he was a little fed up with something, like a verbal throwing-up-of-the-hands, but it was a comical expression too, because there wasn't a great deal he took seriously in his final years.  He self-identified as a great cynic, but after his moments of Ya Ya Yaka-pa-chinski, he always re-grouped and re-dedicated himself to whatever life offered.

Can we do any more than this?   What form does our vow take and what Dharma becomes the action?  Go and find out!

*Thanks Dad....And if anyone knows where my Dad's expression came from, please let me know....

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