Ken notes how the Halloween ritual of trick or treat doesn’t necessarily end with childhood.

As a child I used to love Halloween. I grew up in a large East Coast city in a neighborhood of row houses. On Halloween night, my friends and I could canvass the area and fill our bags in a short period of time. Of course, some inconsiderate people would hand out apples, which only weighed us down and got tossed to the curb. It was the good old days when candy bars were candy bars. Not the ridiculous bite sized things that get handed out nowadays. If I finished my dinner I was allowed to have a treat for dessert. My stash would often last for months.

As I grew older I reluctantly weaned myself off this annual ritual. By the time I entered high school, it was no longer cool to dress up and make the rounds. I am now in my 60’s. But the fond memories of Halloween have never quite faded. The difference is that now I can look at it from a Dharma perspective.

In actual fact, I have never really stopped going on Trick or Treat. Throughout my adult life I have continued to metaphorically go “door to door” filling my bag with enticing goodies. Instead of candy bars, however, these goodies are the eight worldly concerns. I have been filling that bag with all sorts of possessions, praise, a good reputation, and sense pleasures. My sweet tooth has even abated, revealing the fact that those delectable candy bars didn’t have true happiness built into them from their own side.

My Trick or Treat bag is presently brimming with all my afflictions and negative karma. It is weighing me down with suffering, not happiness. My Dharma practice has allowed me to look in the bag and see the ignorance, anger, attachment, and myriad of other negative thoughts and emotions. It’s not a pretty sight.

As a child, life was quite simple. The worst I could expect from those sugary treats was an occasional cavity. The so called “treats” of adulthood are far more dangerous. Being stuck in samsara for eternity would be a lot more painful than a trip to the dentist. It’s time to end my love affair with Halloween.smiling man with bags of recycling

 by Ken Mondal

Ken is a frequent participant in Sravasti Abbey teachings, events, and volunteer opportunities. Read his other recent Dharma insights: Fighting Fire: Taking and Giving and Brussel Sprouts