Sunday, August 16, 2009

Hungry Ghosts

I mentioned in a previous entry that I'm reading a book called Open to Desire. The author is a psychotherapist and a Buddhist exploring ways to "hold" our desires (whatever these desires may covet) in a manner that is enlightening rather than clinging and craving.

Late last night, I was reading about the Hungry Ghosts in Buddhism. These are "beings who are in a state of chronic deprivation and longing, always searching for a nourishment that they are not equipped to digest....Their attempts at gratification just make them hungrier and thirstier." These Hungry Ghosts "obsessively seek nourishment from people and things who can only disappoint ....The gratification that the Hungry Ghost seeks cannot be found in the form in which it is imagined." Wow.

Reading this part of the book helped me realize that I may be chumming around with these guys too much. The author indicates that to begin to move away from the futile circle of the Hungry Ghosts, we need to acknowledge that they exist. In that vein, I've tried to capture what the Hungry Ghosts feel like to me.

Traditional imagery portrays the Hungry Ghosts as having tiny necks and pinhole sized mouths. In my mind, they have cavernous, voracious mouths wanting to devour everything; so hungry and thirsty, they feel like they can't get enough. Thank goodness I'm finding ways not to hang out with them any more...


  1. Holy mother, Lori... that is one powerful image!

    I don't think I'd hang out with them, either.

  2. On a more serious note, this is some mighty fine sketch work. I can clearly pick up a feeling of viciousness and hunger, like a 'cavernous hunger' from those things. In the whole image, their mouths are made up of the all the circles save one. You drew vortexes in there that's emphasized by it's uniqueness; all the other shadows are done in linear, repeating strokes.

    I don't know what the hell is going on with their faces, but it's creepy.

    Also, I would make the guess that the woman in the drawing is you and I hope I'm not wrong, lol. It's her expression and posture that intrigues me. It looks like you've managed to get what's brewing in your mind into an incredible and accurate representation, and then you put it onto a medium with such skill that I can readily pick out feelings and motives. That process that you use to get from an idea in your head to a drawing on paper is what makes reading this blog so enjoyable. Anyway, I'm curious to see if you have anything to say about her expression and stuff.

  3. Yeah, they're pretty creepy. Thanks for your comments! One of the things that's always so frustrating to me -- and I think we've talked about this -- is having an image in my head but not being able to translate it to paper -- kind of like your ying-yang knot...did you ever find a way to do that? The person is definitely me. I wasn't actually thinking very clearly about what expression I wanted to convey. It just came out that way. Sort of a resignation, fear, intimidation, bafflement. Part of this process for me is figuring out how to be more empowered and proactive in not just blindly and mindlessly following my impulses. That's what the ghosts represent to me -- blind consumption (of anything -- material things, relationships, etc.). I have to tame these ghosts in order to be more mindful and to take better care of myself. The whole point is that those impulses are attempts to find fulfillment and to feel whole but the reality is that consuming is not going to get me what I want anyway. It's all very zen and elusive sometimes.

  4. Wow! Lori this is a great sketch. You have done a fantastic job on creating depth with perspective and diminution of the ghosts. Also they appear so rounded and three dimensional. I have to agree with Josh, the voracious expression on the foreground ghost is incredible and the expression on your face is almost a look of holiness, like an angel dispelling the demons from within.