We often talk a lot about the things we want, we long for or miss. But it is our actions, choices, visions and thoughts that reflect what we truly choose to go after. Regardless if these things are what we consciously want or not, the circumstances and things we have manifested by our choices (not necessarily illnesses, accidents, loss of loved ones etc.) have been created and magnetized by our own doing. Choices only in part driven by parts and beliefs we are aware of and largely by subconscious selves and their questionable beliefs and fears.
Some of the parts that operate in the shadow of our unconscious I call “hungry ghosts” as they are residues of our past (own, other lifetimes or ancestral). They are seeming black holes of need which are masked and keep replaying the same patterns to try to haphazardly fulfill their unacknowledged or repressed needs. When still weakened they only haunt our minds but if they gain strength or find a weakness in the repression that held them down they come out with a vengeance. And in their hunger and pain they will ransack, destroy and sacrifice anything standing in their way. Relationships, livelihoods, homes – everything is up for grabs when they take the wheel of selfhood.
I was able to observe a hungry ghost in action and learn about its ego-centric if not narcissistic logic at play. What was most fascinating to observe was that the person who houses it remained wholly blind to its nature as their identification with the thoughts and expressions were complete and they lacked the distance to question where the thoughts expressed came from and how they align with their values, previously expressed wishes, their wellbeing or the person they are speaking to. It is always easier to observe it in others than in ourselves as we lack identification with the ghost but it necessitates to be dis-identified to whatever counterpart in us is triggered by them.
Hungry ghosts are the parts of ourselves we have split off and starved of our acknowledgement, attention, consciousness and love. They are geared towards getting their needs met externally and focus all their energy and dramatic play on external engagements to take, get or manipulate others into giving them what they want. But no amount of external love, attention or care will ever be enough – this black hole of extinction can only be filled and transformed by our own love, attention, forgiveness and making amends with the gentlest of care towards that part.
Appeasing and reigning in our hungry ghosts is a journey, it takes disciplined mindfulness, self-compassion and self love – lots of love to balance out the neglect and violence perpetrated by us in decades. No half-hearted attempts or dishonesty will do here, they are acutely aware of these and need us to show up in full integrity or with honesty as to our current state. It is truly an art to listen to their needs, worries, beliefs and integrate them into a balanced tribe of selves in a healthy and enriching way. Yet feeding and healing our hungry ghosts is non-negotiable to living a conscious, prosperous, creative, healthy and joyful life with thriving relationships and spirits.
Another’s hungry ghost
I will listen to expressions of wishes, wants, needs, dreams and goals others share but I especially look out and give more weight to the pattern of choices, actions, slip ups and other expressions of unacknowledged parts of their selves.
When faced with a hungry ghost in most people I try to simply be a calm witness to them and their underlying story. Acknowledging them energetically without feeding them my energy or enabling their harmful patterns by engaging them. I sometimes fail in this and catch myself in an entanglement with them but I am working on getting better at it.
Depending on the level of consciousness or dearness of the other to me I will gently or fumblingly put questions to them that might act as a disruptor in the identification with the ghost. Seeding awareness and curiosity in the most light-hearted and non-judgmental way I can muster and making the observation and analysis of the ghost pattern a fun and playful dance. What is the value of our relationships if we are not in service to each other’s awakening to self limitations and unconscious patterns?
With some, who not only consent to but are also capable of having a meta conversation and reflection of their dynamics and mine, I will be acting as a mirror and share impressions, bringing their blind spots into their range of vision to inform their self work.
With the right people these can be magical moments of sharing impressions that trigger cascading domino effects of reflections, realization and knowing of the driving motivations, thought forms, beliefs, old wounds, effects of the behavior on self and others in both or all participants. Such are moments of blissful value even if they may be painful to our ego and its game of hide and seek. The unraveling, the ripping of a veil and the light of spirit in their eyes as they take back more of their power and freedom to embody more of their sovereignty is a magnificent sight & sense. To me this ranges amongst the peak experiences we can share with another being!
Of course it doesn’t mean that we won’t lapse back into behavioral patterns after such revelatory insights but we will no longer be able to blind ourselves fully to the dynamic and its cost anymore which is an important milestone in the journey towards freedom.
The impersonal self
There are of course the painful moments where we have to accept that another is not ready or capable to face his hungry ghosts or hasn’t cultivated enough self-compassion and self love to feed and heal themselves. Nothing left but to accept it and trust and honor their soul’s path to be perfect as it is.
It often leaves me a bit at a loss when the person with the raving hungry ghost is new to my life. Typically two selves in me will take the stage, one arguing for complete disengagement as I have committed to give my energy and service primarily to those who are already in my life and dear to me and those intuition explicitly guides me to and no longer waste it where it will have no positive effect. My service self argues that I would not want to deny another the service of having a compassionate witness which he needs and this part thrives on giving. As both sides discuss and other selves chime in with current priorities in need of my finite time, energy and attention this might come to an impasse necessitating my impersonal self to save the day.
I am so in love with this part of my being which has awakened last year to full power and action and has brought peace to my inner tribe wherever fault lines had kept conflicts going for decades.
She is a dispassionate and impersonal (read as non-ego-driven) assessor, weighing the experiences shared with the other and looking at the dynamics, personalities from all sides available to her, listening to all selves participating in this conversation, calling in other selves to give their input and calling in communion with intuition to discern if this connection is necessary to my soul’s path or theirs… once all is said, heard, seen, felt, sensed and weighed she makes a decision all other selves align with and peace leads my being back to love and harmony.
She is the only one that can talk sense to my hungry ghosts in their most triggered state as they know her as an unswervingly loving and fierce ally, she is beloved to all in my tribe of selves and acts in service of all that is to the best of her knowing. And even if at times she feels cold and heartless to the more dependent or co-dependent selves they surrender to her in trust as they keep learning from her that love doesn’t mean self-sacrifice and martyrdom and that loving others tempered by self love is a gateway to vaster love and blissfulness than their patterns allow for.
If I walk away from people these days it is no longer a reactive response from fragility, even if that may have played into it, it is a harmonious decision of my tribe of selves which has taken the other’s wellbeing into equal consideration. And I am grateful for this process of integration of all selves by nourishing the hungry ghosts back to life and the feeling of more integrity in my actions and words which result from it.
Aligning more with my essence… a beautifully messy work in progress that fills my life and heart with wonder, adventure and gratitude!