Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The demons aren't out there

It's the time of year when, as my pagan friends say, the veils between the worlds are thin and the living and the dead come into closer contact than usual. Or at least become more aware of their proximity.

Fear of what might be over there abounds, so we bring out vampires, zombies, evil spirits.

But our fears are misdirected.

"Demons are our obsessions and fears, chronic illnesses, or common problems like depression, anxiety, and addiction. They are not blood-thirsty ghouls waiting for us in dark places; they are within us, the forces that we fight inside ourselves. They are the inner enemies the undermine our best intentions."
--Tsultrim Allione

To the ancient Greeks, demons, or daemons, were guiding spirits, divine creatures to be trusted and relied upon. That changed in the middle ages when the Christian church attacked pagan beliefs, and demons were blamed for all the evils of the world.

Buddhism sees both aspects.

The malignant male and female demons
Who create myriad troubles and obstructions
Seem real before one has reached enlightenment.
But when one realizes their true nature
They become Protectors,
And through their help and assistance
One attains numerous accomplishments.
-- Milarepa

If you're not yet enlightened and you find the demons troublesome, there is a rather delightful solution.

"If you think nonhumans might be trying to harm you because you are indebted to them in some way, you can give them 'offering cakes.' ... It is not necessary to make a proper ritual cake. You can offer anything or just imagine that you're making some form of restitution. ... It is not the ritual that is important here, but the psychological process of saying, 'Come in, have some cake, and stop bothering me.'"
--"The Practice of Lojong" by Traleg Kyabgon

Works for me.

1 comment:

  1. "We all suffer at times from our personal demons, whether those of confusion, anger, self-hatred, or longing or loss. Collectively, the force of these same demons creates enormous suffering on the earth, including continuing war, racism, environmental devastation, and widespread yet unnecessary hunger and illness. To alleviate these forms of suffering, we humans will have to face the demons of greed, hatred, and delusion at their root."
    - Jack Kornfield