Many tribes have held the belief that their own spiritual path must be the only correct one. Yet for many centuries civilizations existed where all paths were respected. To spiritually educated ancients the Roman Venus, Greek Aphrodite, and Egyptian Hathor were understood to be one mystery described by three different cultures.
Monotheism does not preclude appreciation of other religions. Monotheistic mystics and spiritual scholars have held the belief that all the names of gods and goddesses can be resolved into the one great mystery. As Plotinus said: God is not external to anyone, but is present with all things, though they are ignorant that he is so.
But monotheism also lends itself to the predilections of conformists and power seekers. By reducing all competing deities to demons, war against, and power over anyone outside the tribe, can be more easily justified. And so the goat hooves and horns of the wonderful ancient Greek God of shepherds Pan became twisted into the Christian Satan.
Most humans suffer compulsions of thought, irrational worry, anxiety about imagined events or outcomes. Fear of sickness, of accidents, of malicious conspiracy can deform or prevent our best actions, even inviting what we wish to avoid. Our ancestors, and many today, have viewed the onset of illness as the attack of some external spirit. Demons have been and are blamed for human troubles across the spectrum from catastrophe to lascivious thoughts.
Since the invention of the computer, many seekers have replaced the idea of autonomous destructive beings like demons with the metaphor of programs. Like a software program, or a computer virus, during our early experiences a certain protocol is accepted into our system. Most of us never question these programs. Many people become angry if their programs are challenged, accepting them as part of their essential identity.
If you struggle with compulsive emotions or thoughts that make it difficult for you to enjoy life it can be helpful to single one out and view it through the prism of various metaphors. Here are some suggestions.
Sometimes that disturbing image or sentence is a premonition worth respecting, like Lincoln’s last dream. But how will you know?
Sometimes it’s your conscience. Is there something you need to stop doing because you know it’s wrong for you? Or perhaps you are discovering you are far off course and the unexamined life is not worth living, as Socrates famously said.
In some cases the best approach is to face the disturbance head on to learn the lessons it has to teach. For someone who has suffered violent assault the overwhelming feeling of defenselessness can be challenged by studying martial arts. If you fear saying ridiculous things read the work of word masters like Kerouac and Gertrude Stein. Identify the weakness, and instead of fearing it, view it as an invitation to evolve.
Modern medicine visualizes such troubles as chemical imbalances or other biological anomalies. There is no shame in trying the appropriate medication to see if that improves your experience.
What if you were to visualize the compulsion as a demon? An evil entity has been drawn or assigned to you who takes joy in tormenting and obstructing you. What do you do? You turn to an expert in your religion. You pray and otherwise seek purification. You steep yourself deeply in spiritual teachings and practices. You develop all virtues.
Emmanuel Swedenborg didn’t believe in demons but he did believe that many of our worst thoughts and feelings are caused by malicious entities. To Swedenborg upon death good human beings become what we call angels. Bad human beings become devils. A sadist in life goes on bullying the living if more indirectly. A charitable and wise person continues to work tirelessly for the good of all. A murderer will encourage potential murderers. A dead addict will drive living addicts deeper into addiction. A scholar will inspire scholars.
Swedenborg had a simple formula to help people tell the difference between the voices of angels and devils. When we hear an idea or apprehend an emotion, if we pay close enough attention we can find a proximity in it, that is, it seems to come from somewhere. Swedenborg said voices that come from the lower torso or from the space surrounding it, in other words low voices, are demonic. Voices around the crown of the head would be the ones to rely on. Of course, if one were raised with this belief it might be easier to find consistency!
Theosophy used the metaphor of thought forms. A thought is a thing: a vibration (or frequency) far more refined than our physical world of energy blurring into matter. People who obsess on you can load your subtle bodies with vibrations of specific thoughts. So you can inherit a fear or even a disease from an obsessive parent. Your DNA can be rearranged by a preponderance of certain kinds of thoughts picked up from others incarnate and disincarnate and given special spin by your own attention and reaction to them. By studying Theosophy or another vital path you can lift yourself to a high enough frequency that such parasites automatically drop off.
Some will tell you that love is the cure all for negative energy projections but that is a dangerous oversimplification. When dealing with obsessives love is not neutral. To love is to continue enmeshment, to provide magnetic reception. More powerful than love in such cases is neutrality, the practice of occupying yourself with unrelated activities. Remove yourself from the situation or people afflicting you and do not dwell on memories, doubts or suspicions. Fill your mind and your time with activities and thoughts that inspire and cleanse. This can be compared to the old strategy of dealing with a haunting: ignore the mischievous ghost so it becomes bored and moves on, reactions only encourage the unwanted process to continue.
In Scientology clusters of parasitic alien souls are said to infest every human being and only auditing can free you of these Body Thetans. If you are sufficiently advanced you can use the Thetan Hand Technique. Imagine an invisible Thetan hand, a hand of soul not of body, and use the edge to slice the barnacle clusters of Body Thetans away. Your mental energy cuts through their suction cups, or strings, or beams.
Whichever metaphor you choose, and try more than one, meditation will be valuable. Keep it simple. Sit quietly, gently push your thoughts away like koi in a pond, and immerse yourself in the glowing present right now all around you. Be open. Don’t attach to anything going by inside or out, ignore invitations to dwell on the past or future. Embrace non abstraction and simply exist in your senses. Think of it as taking a spiritual shower.
Every day people we interact with, the media, the world hurls metaphorical feces in all our faces. People spook us with details of their medical troubles, or they judge us unfairly, or ridicule our beliefs or taste. Television stations spew ritualized violence and pharmaceutical threats. Disasters can occur in the blink of an eye, we are constantly reminded. Day and night we are buried in crap. If you do not clean it off, you are encased in years of it. Meditation is hygienic. It reminds us to leave to each day its troubles, to refresh ourselves in the ever vital radiance of potentiality that is the present moment.