International Journal of Transpersonal Studies




The suffering that gives rise to and is perpetuated by contemporary culture’s addiction to

materialistic consumption is described surprisingly well by the ancient tradition of Indo-

Tibetan Buddhism. From this perspective, modern human beings exemplify hungry ghosts

trapped in a state of incessant greed and insatiability, which at its core reflects a desperate

attempt to maintain a sense of self that is out of accord with basic reality. The rich Tibetan

Buddhist understanding of the unfolding process by which the hungry ghost negotiates its

project, including its attempts to avoid greater suffering and to seek bliss, serves to elucidate

our contemporary psychological dynamic. This analysis points to what is needed in order to

extract ourselves from a consumerist mentality and find genuine fulfillment.

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