Buddhism and Meditation

Tibetan Wheel of Life (Week 6)


This week the Milton Keynes Meditation Association met up to practice some meditation together and to continue our study and discussions around the Wheel of Life – a rich symbol reflecting the working of our minds and how we can work with them.

This time we were exploring the Realm of the Hungry Ghosts (Pretas) . Here are the notes from the meeting:

Some Key Features


The Experience


  • An arid realm
  • A place of rock and sand, a bleak, despairing dessert
  • The water is brackish and what trees there are produce only a small number of stunted fruit.
  • A world of hunger and thirst – unsatisfied desires


The Upside


  • All things are impermanent and change is always possible
  • All energy can be serviceable on the spiritual path if directed in a skillful way


The Downside


  • Pretas are ghoul like and pitiable creatures
  • With long spindly arms and legs and large distended empty stomachs
  • Their mouths are tiny holes and their necks long and narrow
  • Anything they eat or drink turns to fire, excrement or ashes in their mouths
  • Digestion causes them great pain, like swallowing a dagger
  • They look out onto their ghostly, mirage like world with large sorrowful, saucer-like eyes


Expressions in the Human Realm


  • Neurotic behavior and addiction
  • Could manifest towards almost anything
  • Commonly includes food, sweets, alcohol, drugs, other people and sex


The Buddha of this Realm & His Symbol


  • A red coloured Buddha called “Flaming Mouth”
  • He carries a bowl of real, consumable food and drink


What Needs to be done to make progress in this Realm


Overcome the cause – Neurotic Desire


  • We cannot satisfy neurotic desire
  • You cannot cure loneliness with chocolate or despair with alcohol
  • This is the symbol of the Buddha offering consumable food – the cure for real hunger is real food.


The cure for our deeper needs (meaning to life, safety, stability, freedom from pain) have to be fulfilled by the right kind of nourishment – spiritual food – this is what the Buddha really has to offer us.


Positive Seeds, Negative Seeds & Buddha Seeds


Positive Seeds (Red) – Good Karma – None at all

Negative Seeds (Black) – Bad Karma – Predominates – quite a painful existence

Buddha Seeds (Gold) – Quite a lot



The 4 Noble Truths


The first Noble Truth is suffering

The second Noble Truth is the cause of suffering – grasping/attachment

The third Noble Truth is the possibility for the end of suffering

The fourth Noble Truth is the Eightfold Path leading to that cessation




The 3 Realms


We occupy the Wheel of Life (Samsara). This can be divided into 3 Realms (Lokas):


  • Karma Loka – Desire Realm (craving is predominant – humans, asuras, animals, hells, hungry ghosts)
  • Rupa Loka – Form Realm (refined experience – lower god realms – less craving)
  • Arupa Loka – Formless Realm (very refined – beings without physical form, little craving)




Transforming Energy


  • We do not wish to repress energy – unhealthy
  • Pretending we do not experience craving/desire will not make it go away
  • We can practice stillness & contentment – refining our sense of enjoyment
  • We can transform Karma Chanda (sensual desire) into Dharma Chanda (desire for Truth/Growth)