We often look to buddhas and bodhisattvas as the heroic protagonists of the Buddhist cosmos. But even the most wretched creatures can teach us a thing or two about the dharma. Andy Rotman, a scholar of South Asian religions at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, is one of the few academics researching the history of hungry ghosts—the denizens of hell who suffer from greed and envy cultivated in past lives. Rotman and Tricycle’s editor-in-chief James Shaheen discuss...