Tuesday, May 10, 2016

What do you do if asked to cast out a demon?

Two times in my life I have gone to a group event and run across a woman who pleaded for help in casting out her demons. It was an incredible experience in both cases -- the look of very sincere horror, fear and despair in her eyes, the sense of tangible physical danger, and the need for immediate safety. One case was long ago and one quite recent.

Have YOU ever been challenged as I was by this? Have you even seen what was on her face and in her spirit? Actually, you probably have, if you watched the Republican presidential debates this year. When Carly Fiorina conveyed her impossible conclusions about the fraudulent video made about planned parenthood this year, she showed exactly that kind of face. She is an interesting example, and maybe I will say more about that.. but not now. For now, it is just an analogy, to try to help you begin to picture what I was facing -- except that the physical danger was more real in the cases I faced.

There are many cold and bureaucratic people who, in meeting such a woman, would say: "Please madam, stop saying things which are such meaningless gibberish and politically incorrect. You really need to learn to conform better to proper modern conservative social norms, and learn that these demons you are talking about simply do not exist. You should read Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged and the book by Churchland, and stop being distracted by things which do not exist, or which at best are just emergent products of your own imagination." (In fact maybe someone did say that in that first encounter long ago.) Meanwhile she is in urgent fear for her life, and hears louder suspicious rattling of the walls behind the guy as he speaks. Perhaps as she listens to him, she feels that he too is just another one of the impossible creatures who should not exist but nonetheless insists on impinging on her life and making it a living hell.

Slightly less cold and insensitive would be the idea of calling 911 and having her committed to a mental hospital. I never considered that in these cases - but if she had been a jihadi wielding a knife I would have. In the recent case, I was happy to hear that one of her close friends knew a Catholic priest who was also a psychiatrist, and that she had agreed to meet him within a day or two.

But even then I wondered. There is a lot of variation in what psychiatrists know how to do, and we were called to help if we could that very day. I thought immediately of a very different woman I once knew, who worked at Harvard Medical School and did a large scale study of the choices of therapy for manic-depressives. The study showed that the choice of therapy tends to reflect the needs of the doctor more than the needs of the patient. That horrible reality reflects the human tendency to seek THE WAY without paying enough attention to variations in circumstance.

I have read a lot of Freud and Jung, and one of my closest friends in K-12 aspired to become a psychiatrist. I remember how they emphasized "transference" as the first requirement for doing anything useful. That basically means an authentic kind of dialogue, giving and receiving some respect. So how did I respond in the recent case when she said: "They say I am just crazy, but I really have been hearing these voices..."? In truth, this woman had shown some validated "psychic" sensitivity in the past, so to be authentic I said: "Do you remember what Teilhard de Chardin said, that no man is an island, that we are all connected?  Yes we are all part of this earth, and we are connected to billions of other people, some good and some bad, some crazy and mean and some more helpful. Yes there are bad voices out there, but we need to connect more with more positive voices." To her friend I said: "Above all, as first aid, you have to cut out the Fox News somehow."

I didn't tell her just how totally sincere I was in saying that. For many years, my primary spiritual practice has been something I think of as "Cosmic Consciousness", a fully conscious quiet state I would enter in the middle of the night with full access to thoughts ranging from Einstein's continued interest in new nonconformal differential geometry, and the galaxy, to really nasty stuff on the other side of the world. A few years ago it was really annoying to center quietly, and then immediately be deluged by unwanted mental spam, as in " Kill them all...!" Regularly. Amidst one of the conflicts between Israel and Hamas, it was really sad to hear jihadis radiating powerful context-free rage of "kill them all," and then see some Israelis hearing and responding and doing just what was pleaded for (albeit a different manifestation of "them"). Immaturity in our noosphere really does amplify escalation at times.

That was a perpetual annoyance for me for years, and it reminds me of how Jesus would deal with demons, a bit like the way.. the good red-faced character disconnected Ultron from the internet in the comic book movie of that name. "Ultron" is still a danger, but it is nice to see less noosphere presence of the kind we saw a few years ago.

But.. back to the woman in need. The New Testament says that Jesus would have just injected his own energy, or channelled the energy of The Father, to clean her out immediately. Likewise, when he was with some hungry people, it is written that he just conjured up real fish out of thin air. I did not think of trying to attempt something like that in these cases (until much later when I started to write this.) That also brings up the old question: "Is it better to give someone a fish or teach him to catch them himself?" That's a matter of circumstance, if you have a choice of how to help.

In this recent case.. I instantly thought of three or four ways to try to help. To be practical, I thought of a simple mnemonic, WIE, standing for three treatment/protection approaches, grossly simplified as "ward, itzjihad, Eck", later expanded to WIBE, with B for breathing.

W -------------------------

W -- for millennia, people of all cultures have tried to create, strengthen and protect " sacred spaces" excluding SOME type of disruptive or negative thoughts. This can get tricky, as some folks try to exclude thoughts about real dangers they need to face up to, like war or depression or climate change or terminator type AI. Still, we need at least some islands of calm, to avoid nonproductive oscillation or thrashing or slow convergence in our thinking. Nietzsche talked about withdrawal and return. Right at this moment I am in a state of physical withdrawal, in hopes my body will heal enough to let me return to normal physical challenges. For millennia, several disciplines have been developed, fir challenges ranging from clearing the mind enough to really focus in an object of meditation like a calculus book, or clearing the focus of mind in selected times and places. Conscious shift of focus is one of the very fundamental disciplines of sanity or zhengqi, a scientific concept explained in www.Werbos.com/Mind_in_Time.pdf . I was glad that a close friend of this woman had some experience with W and planned to help.

Nevertheless, a Freudian would say that W by itself is like repression. Repression can be a very bad and unstable way to cope with a lot of bad stuff. Still, facing problems head-on can be counterproductive when people are not yet READY. A main goal of therapy is to CREATE readiness. (There is a link here to the important work of George valliant of Harvard. He showed how denial, which is like simple repression, leads to bad results, while honest POSTPONEMENT, trying to create readiness, works better.)

I -------------------------------------

So beyond W, more serious and fundamental is what I call "itzjihad," for simplicity.
When I met that first haunted woman years ago, I did not even know the word "itzjihad," but as I looked at her I could see she needed it. She was upset by some real physical manifestations as well as full images and voices going with them. She had tried standard stuff like raising a cross and whatnot, none of which helped. I was reminded of a light but important and serious book I had read, calling up Philip, about a Canadian group which had gotten well-verified physical effects from a seance held for an imaginary ghost -- all based on some kind of projection from the minds of the participants.

It seemed clear she was struggling with real and physical projections of her own mind. To fight these projections, she could neither just ignore them or fight outwards: rather she would have to go INSIDE, where they really came from. The challenge is the struggle inside the self. (For her level of problem, it really was just a struggle within the "self" with a small "s," her individual soul and brain. But sometimes we encounter what the Upanishads call our "Self" with capital s - the entire noosphere in effect as we look deeply enough inside.)

This kind of struggle is the central theme in www.Werbos.com/Mind_in_Time.pdf . What does it really require, at the high noosphere level? I am still groping with the specifics -- but I have posted here before about the spirit of love, the spirit of truth and impedance matching, which really refer to basic mathematical facts of life.
When I thought about the mechanics of how to apply these principles here, I remembered some basic exercises in psychokinesis, which I first tried in 1972 and shaped my later feelings. There is a KIND of serious deep breathing (with some W feeling I suppose), a kind of grasping at the same time of what is and of what should be, and a clear credit assignment (zheng qi) pushing from one to the other. The right kind of deep breathing is also central in the water exercises of yeshua's family, and yoiga and so on. Absolute deep truthfulness is really essential here for many reasons.

e etc -----------------------------------

And e? When the local noosphere seems too much of a mess, one can still try to reach beyond, to what is crudely called "a higher frequency." Really look at the stars of our galaxy. Still, reaching out to the galaxy reminds me of a chipmunk who tried to reach out to a more civilized and intelligent world and decided to live in our house - for about a day. Who knows?

Not Fiorina, who seems to enjoy being haunted by imaginary demons, just like the jihadis. If they could look inside with steely eyes to where their money comes from.. well, another day. If we live that long.


Two days later: that Catholic priest psychiatrist, also being a competent MD, did some blood work and other tests and learned that the strange state of mind was actually caused by... a urinary tract infection! Easy enough to take care of, albeit with a recovery period even a bit worse that what I went through.

In truth, I worried that I might have such an infection myself after RP... but none of those psycvhological symptoms.

Of course, mind and blood chemistry do interact in a number of ways. One year ago, when we were touring Udaipur in India, Luda had me read an article about NIH debates on protocols for experiments using psilocybin...
a really interesting issue, calling for a bit more depth than the usual stuff has. Probably I did post some of that in this blog..


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