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7/29/16 11:15 AM
Saw this (link) over at SuttaCentral - it’s an interesting article about a professor of psychiatry that has been working with demonic possessions for around 30 years.

For the past two-and-a-half decades and over several hundred consultations, I’ve helped clergy from multiple denominations and faiths to filter episodes of mental illness — which represent the overwhelming majority of cases — from, literally, the devil’s work. It’s an unlikely role for an academic physician, but I don’t see these two aspects of my career in conflict. The same habits that shape what I do as a professor and psychiatrist — open-mindedness, respect for evidence and compassion for suffering people — led me to aid in the work of discerning attacks by what I believe are evil spirits and, just as critically, differentiating these extremely rare events from medical conditions.


In his article he links to this article about Father Vincent Lampert - “one of the nation’s few Vatican-trained exorcists”.

RE: exorcists
Answer
7/29/16 7:08 PM as a reply to Chuck Kasmire.
I haven't posted here for a while, have been limiting my use of computers, the net, etc. But this raised an issue I've had on my mind for some time.
It seems that there is a strong tendency within, or around Buddhism (and it's various subgroups) to dismiss, or at least make light of the paranormal, and (ahem) 'differently spiritual'. I began working with a teacher, who is, from what I can tell, an atheist. He doesn't seem all that unusual (in the Buddhist world) in his perception of ghosts, UFO's, 'God'/higher power, etc, being so much BS. I come across it a fair bit. And this is difficult for me, because I feel the only rational response is to just remain quiet about my being at odds with that. I grew up in a house that was undeniably occupied (I'm not sure I care to use the word haunted. It comes freighted with baggae), and experienced probably more weird experiences over the years than most folks. I am convinced that there is far more going on in reality than we know, or (some) will acknowledge (far more in Heaven and Earth than is dreamt of in your philosophy) but have been unwilling to form definite beliefs about what exactly all these things might be, mean or point to. As Terence McKenna once put it, reality could be anything. I think I understand why the Buddha wouldn't deal with these issues. Why distract ourselves from being free of suffering. Best to be as single minded as possible. But even once that goal is attained, it doesn't change these things from going on, from being a part of reality. Do arahants see UFO's? While that's meant humorously, and tongue in cheek, I hope it gets my point across. I wish it were different, but it seems that the tendency towards bias against these things is just to be accpeted as part of the Buddhist world. Although the within the pragmatic community, there seems to be less of it.

Chuck, thanks for posting this, and bringing it up. It's an interesting subject, and is a reminder as to why I've never been able to make the leap of faith to atheism.

Side note: It's amusing and ironic that inspite of the atheism I find common in Buddhism, that the belief in reincarnation and devas, something otherwise considered a fringe matter, at best, is readily accepted by those who find the idea of a higher power, and similar ideas to be ridiculous. Belief can do strange things to a mind.

RE: exorcists
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7/29/16 9:38 PM as a reply to Chuck Kasmire.
This fellow reminds me of M. Scott Peck, a psychiatrist whose experiences are similar. In his book "People of the Lie" Peck makes a case for an additional category in the DSM to include evil.

https://www.amazon.com/People-Lie-Hope-Healing-Human/dp/0684848597/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

I've been interested in this sort of thing for a long time due to some experiences I had a long time ago. So far, the most compelling analysis of this type of phenomena is from Felicitas Goodman in her book “How about Demons?: Possession and Exorcism in the Modern World.”

https://www.amazon.com/How-about-Demons-Possession-Exorcism/dp/0253204674/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

It's been a while since I read it, but she talks about brain maps that can be activated when certain conditions are in place.

I'll include my experiences and perspective in order to add to the discussion. Raised Catholic, I got involved with the Pentecostal church and eventually the Catholic Charismatic movement. At the time I was seriously considering entering the seminary to become a priest. I had a friend who was a young priest.

The typical Catholic priest would discount claims of demonic influence and instead attribute it to mental health issues. An average Pentecostal minister would be on the other side of the spectrum and much more likely to hold a world view that included malicious demons. The Catholic Charismatic movement is sort of an outlier in the Catholic Church. Since they celebrate the "gifts of the spirit" in a similar way to the Pentecostals, they are also more likely to subscribe to a model that involves demons.

My priest friend told me that he underwent an exorcism. It was performed by some nuns leading the local prayer group. I was 18 at the time and the description of the exorcism creeped me out a bit.

I never did enter the seminary, but a few years later, after following an extensive yoga practice, had what matches the description of a Kundalini awakening - energy rushing up the spine and the feeling of energy seeming to explode in my head. This was a terrifying event for me and after that, I started suffering from an increase in anxiety, and the event marked the onset of panic attacks. Even though I've since researched the Kundalini model, I don't have a satisfactory understanding of it.

At one point in this period I went to a "healing mass" organized by the local Catholic Charismatic chapter. My goal was to get some relief from the debilitating anxiety I was feeling. When my turn came to be prayed for, I was surprised to have them perform an "on the spot" exorcism. The priest had his hand on my forehead, was pushing me back, I was unable to step back since someone else was behind me. So, the floor was where I ended up. I did feel relaxed laying on the floor, similar to a good yoga session with a long shavasana. But my overall sense of the event was unease and skepticism. I think it also generally increased my anxiety, as I now apparently also had to worry about demons.

Another method I turned to was a psychologist for counselling. We talked about my upbringing and family of origin issues. I also found these sessions somewhat relaxing for a short time. But overall, pretty much as useless as the exorcism.

What eventually helped me was doing research on my own regarding panic attacks and anxiety. After getting more of an understanding of the physiological processes and emotional feedback loops involved, the panic attacks lost their power and dissipated.

This was before Prozac was invented - I'm pretty sure the pharmaceutical model would also have been effective.

For me trying to get relief, I looked into a number of models, or fields of knowledge. Kundalini, demonic influence, psychotherapy, physiology, pharmacology. Some were useful, some were not.

So, my current tendency is to believe that opting for demons as an explanation for personal suffering (or other phenomena) is a cop out.

I may change my mind in the future. Information such as what Chuck linked is for me the most persuasive. But even then, I am skeptical. I would have to experience what the author does firsthand and then decide.

RE: exorcists
Answer
7/29/16 11:50 PM as a reply to Darrell.
Darrell:

It seems that there is a strong tendency within, or around Buddhism (and it's various subgroups) to dismiss, or at least make light of the paranormal....

Buddhism is about the path to end suffering. Minds that are possessed by external demons are obviously suffering & not practising & receiving the benefits of Buddhism. The Buddhist scriptures certainly discuss 'Mara'; an external mind ('demon') that seeks to break the concentration & peace of Buddhist practitioners. If you focus & become infatuated with the paranormal, the paranormal may come back to bite you. That is why Buddhism focuses on the solution to the paranormal, which is to regard it as harmful, empty, without substance, played with by delusion.

emoticon

RE: exorcists
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7/30/16 12:46 AM as a reply to Nicky.
Nicky,

I'm not referring to how it is or is not addressed in the canon, or scriptures etc. I'm talking about an attitude and perception found among certain groups and individuals now, in today's world. Nowhere that I am aware of does Buddhism claim to address focusing on a solution to the paranormal. Anyway, respectfully, I must say I think you missed the point of what I was saying.

RE: exorcists
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7/30/16 12:48 AM as a reply to Darrell.
In the suttas, the Buddha deals with things most people would consider paranormal every now and then. He even recommends developing the ability to talk to see and gods in order to develop insight.

https://suttacentral.net/en/an8.64

RE: exorcists
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7/30/16 3:31 AM as a reply to Pål.
Pål:
In the suttas, the Buddha deals with things most people would consider paranormal every now and then. He even recommends developing the ability to talk to see and gods in order to develop insight.

https://suttacentral.net/en/an8.64

I explained this to you previously. You still misunderstand. In this sutta, the mind of the Buddha-To-Be starting developing the divine-eye where it could know the other minds with the divine-eye. However, the Buddha-To-Be looked upon this with equinimity & dispassion (unlike you that read this sutta with craving for becoming).

...knowledge and vision within me would thus be better purified...Sure is my heart's release; this is my last (ego) birth; there is now no more becoming for me...AN 8.64

RE: exorcists
Answer
7/30/16 3:51 AM as a reply to Darrell.
I am convinced that there is far more going on in reality than we know, or (some) will acknowledge (far more in Heaven and Earth than is dreamt of in your philosophy) but have been unwilling to form definite beliefs about what exactly all these things might be, mean or point to. As Terence McKenna once put it, reality could be anything. I think I understand why the Buddha wouldn't deal with these issues. Why distract ourselves from being free of suffering. Best to be as single minded as possible. But even once that goal is attained, it doesn't change these things from going on, from being a part of reality.

In this post, you seem to belittle 'freedom from suffering' & give a higher priority to the reality of UFOs, etc.

The point of my posts, which is consistent with the thread, is deifying & reifying the paranormal is extremely dangerous & the cause of the idea of demon posession (just as considering things to be 'self' is the central cause of suffering according to Buddhism).

This thread is about the idea that there are people who are harmfully possessed by demonic beings or samsaric gods. This only occurs when the possessed mind gives authority to & empowers the demons by deifying & reifying the phenomena via worship, as you and Pal appear to be doing.

This is why you cannot see the solution Buddhism is offering. Instead, you are promoting the problem.

It does not matter whether UFOs or demons are real or not because Buddhism instructs, for the supreme life goal of peace, all conditioned things (including UFOs & demons) should not be clung to, not regarded as a 'self' or connected to 'self' & regarded to be void of any substance.  

With metta emoticon 

 

RE: exorcists
Answer
7/30/16 6:43 AM as a reply to Chuck Kasmire.
Spirit is a breath. These are vapours. There are pretty heavy vapours to good ones as they are lighter and feels heavenly and pure. Depending on where they are they take different shapes from the seer point of view.

The exorcisms can give wrong idea that there are beings what are banished. You can see them as beings and believe them as beings but it doesn't change the facts what they are when you are doing correct meditation.

Same way streamenterers, arhants doesn't exist. Nor noone gets enlightened.

RE: exorcists
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7/30/16 3:59 PM as a reply to Darrell.
Darrell:
It seems that there is a strong tendency within, or around Buddhism (and it's various subgroups) to dismiss, or at least make light of the paranormal, and (ahem) 'differently spiritual'.

When it comes to Buddhism in the west - I agree. Though I don’t think you would find it in the monastic communities here. Buddhism as a whole is very open to these phenomena - though they would view them somewhat differently - at least that is my experience. I think Buddhist cultures in general would see these not as demonic possessions but rather as non-physical beings that for various reasons are trying to influence, contact, or generally mess with someone. And in those cultures it’s just part of life and you would seek help much like we would look for a plumber if we have a clogged drain.

Than. Geoff in his talks has mentioned these phenomena a number of times when talking about his time in Thailand. In my experience, Thai culture is quite comfortable with this stuff and I think that is probably true of most non-western Buddhist cultures - which make up by far the majority of Buddhists in the world.

I think Buddhism when it came here to the west - particularly zen and the dry vippassana practices - they appealed to many non-religious westerners - because it did not require beliefs in the paranormal, rituals, past lives, concentration states, etc. It fit in well with the western scientific materialist belief system - and when these people look at Buddhism from that point of view - they tend to read into it their own belief system - which to me is a mistake.

I am convinced that there is far more going on in reality than we know, or ... but have been unwilling to form definite beliefs about what exactly all these things might be, mean or point to.

Reality is far weirder than people think. I was once a materialist but after one too many weird experiences I gave it up. Like you, I have not formed any definite beliefs about these things - but they happen. There is a great reluctance in this culture to speak openly about these kinds of experiences - the culture strongly discourages it. When I started speaking about these things with friends - people started opening up to me about there own experiences. I think a very significant percentage of the population has had paranormal experiences but have learned to keep quiet.

Do arahants see UFO's?

Yes, but they don’t cling to them? :-)

A monk I’ve known for a long time told me once about when he was in the monastery and they heard about Americans landing on the moon - they had no problem with being able to visit the moon with their mind but could not imagine that one could take the physical body there - just the opposite of the western view.

Chuck, thanks for posting this, and bringing it up. It's an interesting subject, and is a reminder as to why I've never been able to make the leap of faith to atheism.

You’re welcome. ‘leap of faith to atheism’ - I like that.

RE: exorcists
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7/30/16 4:02 PM as a reply to Pål.
Pål:
In the suttas, the Buddha deals with things most people would consider paranormal every now and then. He even recommends developing the ability to talk to see and gods in order to develop insight.

https://suttacentral.net/en/an8.64

Another one, SN 20.5 - very specifically deals with how to prevent a non-human entity from possessing your mind.

RE: exorcists
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7/30/16 4:10 PM as a reply to C P M.
Interesting stuff. Thanks for the book links - found People of the Lie in the local library.

Ever read 30 Years Among the Dead? Creepiest book I ever read. Its the account of an early 20th century psychiatrist working with patients and the entities he found possessing some of them.

From the book:
“Lacking physical bodies through which to carry out earthly propensities many discarnate intelligences are attracted to the magnetic light which emanates from mortals, and, consciously or unconsciously, attach themselves to these magnetic auras, finding an avenue of expression through influencing, obsessing or possessing human beings. Such obtruding spirits influence susceptible sensitives with their thoughts, impart their own emotions to them, weaken their will power and often control their actions, producing great distress, mental confusion and suffering.

These earthbound spirits are the supposed “devils” of all ages; “devils” of human origin, byproducts of human selfishness, false teachings and ignorance, thrust blindly into a spirit existence and held there in a bondage of ignorance.

The influence of these discarnate entities is the cause of many of the inexplicable and obscure events of earth life and of a large part of the world’s misery. Purity of life and motive, or high intellectuality, do not necessarily offer protection from obsession; recognition and knowledge of these problems are the only safeguards.”

RE: exorcists
Answer
7/30/16 4:43 PM as a reply to Chuck Kasmire.
Chuck Kasmire:

Than. Geoff in his talks has mentioned these phenomena a number of times when talking about his time in Thailand. In my experience, Thai culture is quite comfortable with this stuff and I think that is probably true of most non-western Buddhist cultures - which make up by far the majority of Buddhists in the world.



I have heard Geoff talk in an audio spookily about this stuff in a 'pro-demon' sense, where a so-called psychic teacher took possession of the nervous system of a student and Geoff advised the student was to subserviantly accept & deal with it by practising emptiness (despite a psychic teacher performing such an action being against the Vinaya).

Any monk that exercises or even displays psychic powers towards a lay person is transgressing the Vinaya. In Thailand, monks commonly transgress this Vinaya rule to obtain psychological power over people.

Any Theravada monk subject to the Vinaya that speaks accepting like Geoff about these things is obviously themselves the slave of a psychic monk or 'god'. Thus, they cannot really be a 'Buddhist'. Instead, they are, by strict definition, a 'theist'.

.........

RE: exorcists
Answer
7/30/16 5:02 PM as a reply to Banned For waht?.
Rist Ei:
Spirit is a breath. These are vapours. There are pretty heavy vapours to good ones as they are lighter and feels heavenly and pure. Depending on where they are they take different shapes from the seer point of view.

The exorcisms can give wrong idea that there are beings what are banished. You can see them as beings and believe them as beings but it doesn't change the facts what they are when you are doing correct meditation.


Well said. emoticon

RE: exorcists
Answer
7/31/16 12:44 PM as a reply to Chuck Kasmire.
Chuck Kasmire:

Ever read 30 Years Among the Dead? Creepiest book I ever read. Its the account of an early 20th century psychiatrist working with patients and the entities he found possessing some of them.

I haven't read that, but it does look interesting.  My library doesn't have it, but I see the kindle version is only 2 bucks.  I think I'll put this on my reading list.

RE: exorcists
Answer
7/31/16 3:45 PM as a reply to Banned For waht?.
Rist Ei:
Spirit is a breath. These are vapours. There are pretty heavy vapours to good ones as they are lighter and feels heavenly and pure. Depending on where they are they take different shapes from the seer point of view.

The exorcisms can give wrong idea that there are beings what are banished. You can see them as beings and believe them as beings but it doesn't change the facts what they are when you are doing correct meditation.

Same way streamenterers, arhants doesn't exist. Nor noone gets enlightened.

A friend of mine who is very experienced in deep meditation had contact with one of your ‘vapours’ a few years back - this vapour provided my friend with contact information for the vapours family in Thailand and asked my friend to contact them and ask one of the family members who was planning on ordaining to offer the merit to said ‘vapour’. My friend was able to use the information to contact the family who had indeed recently had someone die and yes there was a young man in the family that was planning on ordaining.

The exorcisms can give wrong idea that there are beings what are banished. You can see them as beings and believe them as beings but it doesn't change the facts what they are when you are doing correct meditation.

We are not talking about people who are skilled in meditation. The article is about how these things impact the lives of everyday people. The vast majority of people on this planet lack the kind of mental development needed (as in SN 20.5) to handle these phenomena.

Could you define what you mean by 'exists'.

RE: exorcists
Answer
7/31/16 4:08 PM as a reply to Chuck Kasmire.
Chuck Kasmire:


A friend of mine who is very experienced in deep meditation had contact with one of your ‘vapours’ a few years back - this vapour provided my friend with contact information for the vapours family in Thailand and asked my friend to contact them and ask one of the family members who was planning on ordaining to offer the merit to said ‘vapour’. My friend was able to use the information to contact the family who had indeed recently had someone die and yes there was a young man in the family that was planning on ordaining.


emoticon Why would a vapour ask a stranger to do this when the vapour could have ask his own family?

There is no evidence the dead vapour, in an after life, provided the instruction.

Any psychic message is simply a 'sankhara' & another numnber of living vapours could have provided the message.

This stuff serves zero purpose for meditation practise. It is, instead, a method to distract would-be Buddhists from the Buddhist path.

It is Mara perpetuating personality view & deity worship.

emoticon

RE: exorcists
Answer
8/1/16 7:14 AM as a reply to Chuck Kasmire.
Chuck Kasmire:
Rist Ei:
Spirit is a breath. These are vapours. There are pretty heavy vapours to good ones as they are lighter and feels heavenly and pure. Depending on where they are they take different shapes from the seer point of view.

The exorcisms can give wrong idea that there are beings what are banished. You can see them as beings and believe them as beings but it doesn't change the facts what they are when you are doing correct meditation.

Same way streamenterers, arhants doesn't exist. Nor noone gets enlightened.

A friend of mine who is very experienced in deep meditation had contact with one of your ‘vapours’ a few years back - this vapour provided my friend with contact information for the vapours family in Thailand and asked my friend to contact them and ask one of the family members who was planning on ordaining to offer the merit to said ‘vapour’. My friend was able to use the information to contact the family who had indeed recently had someone die and yes there was a young man in the family that was planning on ordaining.

The exorcisms can give wrong idea that there are beings what are banished. You can see them as beings and believe them as beings but it doesn't change the facts what they are when you are doing correct meditation.

We are not talking about people who are skilled in meditation. The article is about how these things impact the lives of everyday people. The vast majority of people on this planet lack the kind of mental development needed (as in SN 20.5) to handle these phenomena.

Could you define what you mean by 'exists'.
Human is a principle, it doesn't exist. Human as body or form is mark of existence. What makes up a human is spirit and ghost. Spirit is yang, substance movement and ghost is yin, unmoving mental image. Principle is yang it doesn't exist alone, if you see movement there is also unmoving component.

Movement is unmovement. There is the third thing what is either momentum or energy potential. If you solve the unmoving wave or principle then the potential energy there is released. So human as a form is a movement what has a potential.

Existence is nonexistence. Or emptienss is not empty, the more empty and void it is the more potential it has.

..
ok basically i lost this convo, if a priest recites mantra he is evoking spirits, depending to his power. It has to really happen, not from someone who recites things after he had learning it by heart last night and now reciting it like poem(well it would make me more mad).

RE: exorcists
Answer
8/4/17 12:45 PM as a reply to Chuck Kasmire.
As an update to this thread, I just saw that Dr. Richard Gallagher is in the main stream news:

http://www.cnn.com/2017/08/04/health/exorcism-doctor/index.html