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Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween from a Buddhist's Perspective.

First of all let me wish those who celebrate Halloween today a "Happy Halloween!!" Or maybe I should say have a "Scary Halloween!!" I don't believe in ghosts, ghouls and goblins. Except for the state of being a "hungry ghost" but they aren't exactly the kind of ghosts thought about during Halloween. Hungry ghosts are too consumed with their own suffering to go out and "haunt" or "scare" other beings.

Halloween is my favorite holiday because I enjoy spooky movies and dressing up. As a former actor I really enjoy being able to dress up as just about any character that I want for at least one day a year and not be looked at as a loony. As a Buddhist Halloween also reminds me of death and the importance of this human birth in over-coming samsara, which includes death, fear and anxiety, which are all aspects of Halloween. However, it also reminds me of my belief that along with death comes rebirth so there is hope in death. Such reflection helps take the fear and sting out of death.

Our minds make up so many delusions that confuse us and scare us into thinking that we have no ability to transcend such strong emotions. So Halloween is a way to face some of our fears and work through them and to train our mind to concentrate upon the present moment rather then let our mind carry us away into a state of paralyzing fear. Halloween is presented in a fun way, which can greatly help take the power out of our fears and even laugh at how irrational they are.

When we can take the power out of our fears then they basically disappear back into the ether of our deluded mind, which is where they came from in the first place. Fear is a deep instinct to try and protect us but it can be so powerful that it actually works against us. For example, being crippled in fear by the supernatural, which is debatable that it even exists. However, more importantly Buddha either said nothing on the subject of advised us not to give it much attention because it only feeds delusion and distracts us.

I'm not sure if ghosts in the traditional western sense are real (I currently don't believe in them) but the point is that we should overcome our concern and focus on them and worrying that if they are out there that they can somehow control our minds. It is my firm belief that nothing can control our minds unless we allow it to happen. Other than some aspects to severe mental illness, which make controling one's mind much more difficult even with medication.

PHOTO CREDIT: Buddha image carved into a pumpkin lit up with a candle by Nalini Asha.

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3 comments:

Nalini Asha said...

Im honored you used my photo! I only wish I could be carving another one this year... but alas, Halloween isn't celebrated so thoroughly here in the UK as it is back in California. I enjoyed your post. :) namaste

Barry said...

Lots of hungry ghosts show up at our house - and we cooperate with the general madness by offering them candy.

In recent years I've looked at ghosts (hungry and otherwise), demons, goblins, trolls, and other kinds of spooks as aspects of my own humanity.

They're lurking behind the curtain, waiting for their turn in the spotlight. There's the troll that just has to win every argument and the goblin who doesn't want to share. They enter the stage far too often, usually when my head is turned.

It's genuinely scary!

Happy Halloween!

They call him James Ure said...

Nalini:

I'm glad that you don't mind. It's too bad that Halloween isn't as celebrated across the pond. It's fun!!

Barry:

Excellent comment. I agree that those spooky figures are apart of our "self." I liked how you showed how they fight us.

And especially the hungry ghost analogy with the kids craving candy!! Brilliant!!! I wish I had thought of all your points when I wrote this post. Thanks for the insight. _/I\_

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