Talk 3 — The Devil Myth Exploded
"The Devil Myth Exploded"
Download this talk (right click and "save link as")
Download audio of Lecture Three
003 The Devil Myth Exploded
Around the town, and, we're told, all around the nation, a strange phenomenon is evidenced. Long lines of people waiting to see a motion picture. In rain and in cold and in storm and in heat. We might wonder, is this some great Shakespearian drama? Some Classical musical production?
Actually, it is a cinematic experience grotesquely dramatizing a sordid and frightening incident of supposed possession which, if I can be so frank to say, figuratively and literally regurgitates on the screen and on the audience. And the picture is The Exorcist.
Now, because this kind of a production or picture or story suggests, as reality, a phenomenon that is at best highly speculative, it is quite disruptive to any rational process of dealing with the ongoing ness of life. But even more, I think it should be said that it is dangerously unhealthy for any person who's not in a good state of mental health.
Now, the question might be asked, "Why is a picture like this made?" Well, it's obvious. Because people will pay to see it. That's what people in the entertainment business are about. Why do people go to see it? Curiosity whetted by, we must admit, a lot of good public relations. Conformity with the in thing. This is what is being done today. But I think we must also admit that it is partly as a result of certain failures on the part of established religion. The failure of teaching and presenting a God that is large enough, plus the sense that if God and the Devil are realities in the world, the trend of things in the world in recent years would indicate that the Devil has the upper hand. So that perhaps there is a little speculation in terms of whether it's advisable whether to change loyalties. As the mother in The Exorcist observes, she's not sure that God exists, but she's certain that Satan does.
The conflicts and the confusions of the Vietnam years, the moral weakness of governments and business and political leaders, has probably, more than we know, shaken the faith in enlightened optimism, suggesting that life and existence are insane. And, as we say, with a very subtle, perhaps even subconscious shift of allegiance to Satan or to the darkness.
This may be somewhat surprising. We don't want to exaggerate the scope of it. But at least among what is called the counterculture of our society, which may be as large or as small as our personal mind wants to accept it, there is a fad of Satanism, a cult of Satan worship, which has even given rise to Satan churches all across the land, with black magic and witches and ritualistic orgies containing a hodge-podge of Oriental and Western superstitions filled with a lot of obvious bunkum and hokum.
But it could well be that at times of uncertainty and confusion in the world, the unhappy persons, the credulous, the vaguely neurotic, and those who are always looking for some form of inside knowledge, can find in Satanism an easily rationalized approach to life for completely uninhibited behavior and for the release of all sorts of pent up frustrations.
I suspect the whole thing is partly a put on, partly neurotic, partly an escape, and partly dead serious. And it is when it becomes dead serious that it becomes quite dangerous, as I suppose we could say that the Charles Manson affair and other ritualistic murders that have taken place in modern years should make clear.
But even short of this, it is certainly psychologically risky to get involved in any sort of perverse use of the human psyche.
Now, before we consider the matter of the reality of the Devil or of Satan or of evil and so forth, let's just take a brief look at the idea of Satan possession, as depicted in The Exorcist. And I think here again, we must see this against the backdrop of a lot of other things that have gone on. As some of you know, this particular novel was based upon an actual event which happened in St. Louis. And several Catholic writers, reexamining the case on which William Blatty's novel was based, have conclusively denied the possibility of any kind of psychological intervention in that particular incident.
Now, it's kind of interesting that, unknown to most folks, through long periods of time, the Catholic Church has actually appointed official exorcists in certain parts of the world. And I was reading recently where a priest, Joseph de Tonquedec , who was the official church exorcist in Paris for over 50 years ... which means that during that time, certainly he was involved in a lot of cases similar to this, a lot of this kind of phenomenon, therefore should have some sort of a valid opinion about it ... startlingly enough, he said that he was convinced that after 50 years of practice as the official exorcist of the Church, that he had never come across a genuine case of possession.
He says, and we quote, "Exorcism is an impressive ceremony capable of acting effectively on a sick man's subconscious experience," and the abjurations or ritualistic denials addressed to the demon and the various ritual observations can easily call up what he calls a diabolical mythomania in word or deed in a psyche already weak. Call the Devil and you'll see him, or, rather, not him but a portrait made up of a sick man's idea of him. And incidentally, this word mythomania simply means lying or exaggeration. It means a creature of the subconscious confusion of the individual himself.
Now, even if we will grant validity to a case of Satan possession, I think we must recognize that these cases are extremely isolated. And to build them up and exaggerate their importance is to take a simplistic and very paranoid view of life. I suspect that the time will come when we'll need to make some changes in our whole basic area of research, physically and emotionally and psychically and in the area of paranormal, when we become more concerned not with what makes people sick but what makes people well. Certainly, there's already been some talk about this new direction in the field of medical research. And I suspect that it should be given some attention in the field of paranormal research.
But from primitive times, man has tried to understand life, and especially the mystery that he has called evil. It has been very difficult for man, especially in earlier times when he didn't have too many things to judge by, to see life as a whole experience. He has forever seen partially. And the very word Hades comes from a root word which literally means, "not to see." Blindness to reality. The inability to see the whole picture. Primitive man was very certain that the lightning was chasing man and that the river that drowned his brother did it on purpose. And so in his simplistic view of life, any dilemma was attributed to some sort of an evil force.
Actually, this dualistic concept of life carried over into Judeo-Christian religion. And anyone who does not understand the evolutionary strains involved in the development of any religion is really missing the whole idea, and he's not able to understand the religion. In other words, the question was asked in the beginning, and it was still asked, and to many is asked today. "How could God allow this to happen?" And quite often having no answer because of an inadequate concept of God, the conclusion is, "Well, it must then be the work of the Devil." Which is a personalization of evil. And this simplistic view still prevails with many.
So, evil and evil spirits, devils and devil possession, are the outgrowth of man's inadequate consciousness of God. I'll say that again. Evil and evil spirits, and devils and devil possession, are the outgrowth of man's inadequate consciousness of God.
William James, certainly one of America's most distinguished philosophers, says, "There can be no existence of evil as a force to the healthy minded individual." We must avoid thinking of evil as a thing in itself, a force that works against man, or against God, if you will.
And a great illustration of this that many of us have not lost sight of, though it may have been a long while since we were students, that in studying mathematics or simply using a mathematical principle, if we get the wrong answer in addition or multiplication or in some sort of algebraic equation, we do not suddenly feel that there is an anti-mathematical principle that is luring us into wrong answers. Anyone that believes that certainly is not quite ready, yet, to understand the whole process of learning. That when we get wrong answers despite the function of the principle, it's because we do not understand the principle and are not applying it properly. Therefore, it is strictly a problem of ignorance.
Now, we may say, and many come up with this answer, "But after all, there are so many wrong answers in life today. Man must therefore be an evil creature, or he must be under the influence of an evil force." But man simply needs to know himself to understand the truth. The important thing is not how much weakness man evidences, because there is a lot of weakness being evidenced and always has been. The important thing is how much strength man is capable of.
And we cannot understand the dynamic process of a universe of light if we go around looking at darkness. We cannot understand the divinity of man if we're forever ferreting through all the weaknesses of many and the criminality of man. The important thing if we want to know anything about the divinity of man and the divine potential in man is to take a good, hard look at the flowering excellence of the few. At a Jesus or a Buddha or a [Kagawa 00:13:39] or a [Schweitzer 00:13:41], or at the better expressions or the finer revelations that come out of the consciousness of all persons at certain times.
Certainly, there is a lot of evil in the world. And any person in metaphysics or in truth or in unity or religious science or what that goes around as a Pollyanna saying, "There's no evil! There's no bad! There's nothing wrong! Everything's good!" is not really facing the facts of appearances. There is a lot of evil in the world. there is a lot of evil or sinful people involved in a lot of injustices and crime and corruption and various other human mistakes. That is the level of the appearance.
But the important thing is, what is at the root? The root is the evil is simply a concealment of the good. And what we call sin is simply the frustration of the divine potentiality within the person.
Now, let's take a look at one of the classic stories of Satan possession in the Bible, which is Job. Take a look at Job. Now, Job is not a historical figure. But this is a drama, a very interesting one. Some have said it's probably one of the greatest literary works of all times, the play, Job. But here, we have a kind of Satan possession. Job's classic struggle with Satan.
But if you look carefully at this drama, this story, it has some rather interesting things to say. It indicates that Job's trials were the result of his own inability to see clearly. There, again. Not to see is the meaning of Hades. And so he was in a hellfire and a turmoil and had all sorts of perverse experiences in his life because of his inability to see, his inability to let go of the effort to justify himself to rise above his own ego-centered attitude. And the interesting thing in this story or in the play, when Job let go of Job, the devil disappeared as a spent force. And the force was simply the built up confusion of the ego within Job. Job was being deviled, as we so often are in our experience, by his own adversary. And the adversary in Job was his own adverse reactions to life.
It was a very painful experience! Let's don't in any way overlook this. The man had all sorts of tragic experiences in his life. But as these things always are, the pain is in evidence of something that's happening within the individual.
Khalil Gibran puts his finger on this. He says, "Pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding."
Turn to the [Aqauarian 00:17:00] Gospel, and we find a very interesting statement quite relevant to this whole matter of the Devil and of Devil possession. He says, "The only devil from which man must be redeemed is self, the lower self. If man would find his devil, he must look within. His name is self. If man would find his savior, he must look within. And when the demon self has been dethroned, the savior, love, will be exalted to the throne of power. The devil and the burning fires are both the works of man, and none can put the fires out and dissipate the evil one but man, who made them both."
In other words, it's our negative reaction to persons or situations that becomes our devil. And in time, the devil rides us and tortures us with hellfires, and, as Aldous Huxley said, "Experience is not what happened to a person, it is what a person does with what happens to him."
Whenever we commit ourselves to growth of any kind, there is a force of inertia that sets in the tug of the human to continue in former ways. When we are deviled by any kind of limiting forces which are the result of the confusion or our own mind, we can say, "Get thee hence! Him only will I serve. I will realize that I am a creature of the activity of God, and I know that God is the only power in my life and I refuse to acknowledge the forces of my mind as having any precedence over this one power."
In the Gospel story, the word devil and demon have been misunderstood. The Aramaic root word, "sheda" and "shedana," are used colloquially more than the not. And the term applied to people who have queer ideas and do queer things, who talk too much, who are carrying their heavy loads of bitterness or hatred or fear. In other words, as we so often say in modern parlance, "The man has a monkey on his back." "He has a devil." And the devil is the result of his own confusion, the own inability to sort out and to relate positively to the dynamic forces of God within him.
So when the phrase, "cast out demons," is used in the Scriptures, it refers certainly to healing the mentally unbalanced and the insane, and there's so much that we don't know about that, but it also refers to people who are carrying a torch of hatred or fear. In other words, when it says, "The person had a devil," it means the person was possessed of his own fury that was breaking loose upon him.
Now, let's don't minimize this. This fury that builds up within the person can create a tremendous violent force, which is what the picture The Exorcist tried to depict, but it depicts it in a way that suggests all sorts of other non-entities, which is really a distortion of what really happens. It can become a tremendous disturbance, a tremendous fury built up within the person, so that he acts in ways that are terribly abnormal and perverse, and can not only be something very real to him, but it can be very real to the persons who have to work with him.
So again, we don't want to minimize it. It's a problem, as dealing with any kind of mental confusion is a problem, but we want to realize that the whole, gruesome, frightened experiences, the build up, confusion, that is within and totally the creature of the imagination of the person himself.
Jesus actually gives some simple keys to self-exorcism. First of all, when he says, "A man's enemies are they of his own household," he puts very clearly the point that the problem is always what goes on within ourself, not what goes on around us.
He said, "Agree with your adversary." The adversary, as we've said, is the adverse reaction in your own mind. When problems hang on, it's because consciously or subconsciously, there is a holding to them and bitterness or fear or hatred or anxiety. Thus, we find ourselves possessed of a devil, which is a devil of our own making. To agree with your adversary, that means to understand what is involved, to get your mind in neutral so that you do not resist these things as being entities of themselves, but allow yourself to get into the flow of divine inspiration. Jesus doesn't mean to give in to negatives, but to deny them the only power they have, the power of your own, limited, thought.
Again, as the Aquarian Gospel puts it, "The Devil is the work of man and no one can dissipate the evil one but the one who made it, you."
Another concept of self-exorcism in Jesus's teaching is, "If a person smites thee on one cheek, turn to him the other, also." This is not to encourage a milquetoast attitude toward life. It's a challenge to turn from one state of consciousness, the one in which you are involved in this turmoil of mental disturbance where you felt hurt and resistance, to turn from this to another state of consciousness, where you know your oneness with the inner forces, with God.
The truth is, you can never be hurt unless you are hurtable. Hurtability is not in some other force. It's in yourself. You can never be upset unless you're upsettable. Upsettability is in your consciousness, not in someone else. And whenever you are hurt or upset, it is a very good thing to know. As we would say in some instances, "Your slip is showing."
Or, perhaps, in a larger sense, it's good to know that your pool of negativity, which is your devil, has surfaced. You're showing your own devil. But it's the confusion of your own consciousness causing this human reaction.
But we always have a choice. The choice to turn to the more positive state in the deeper levels of consciousness. We have that choice, unless we become so immersed in this pool of negativity that we lose our rational ability to take hold of things. And this often happens in any kind of mental disturbance, and we don't want to minimize this, but what we're saying ... This is not because man has been possessed, but because he did not adequately the confusions in himself and build up this maelstrom, this vortex, of confusion in his own consciousness.
So, in a sense, we need to be very alive and alert, if you will, to practical exorcism all along the way. Whenever a person causes you, or seems to cause you, some sort of pain or upset or disturbance, that the person has really done you a favor because he has helped you to understand a weak link in your own consciousness. And if you refuse to admit that the pain was not caused by the person but by your own negative reaction to the person, then, like Job, you create a situation that devils you and you give the torch to the hellfires that burn and burn and burn and, as we say, there is the Devil to pay.
So the Devil, in all his forms, Pluto, Lucifer, Satan, Diablo, Mephisto, all the myriad forms of devil spirits which have been the delight of fiction writers throughout all times, have come out of the imagination of man. They're the creation of man's consciousness. And the Satanic possession is a complicated form of self-possession and the perversion of the basically positive forces of the mind.
As the Aquarian Gospel puts it, "Man makes his devil and then becomes afraid of him and flees. His devil is emboldened, and follows him away and casts him into torturing fires, but they're all created by the person, himself."
So, how many things are deviling you today? The need is to put the fires out and dissipate the evil one because we've made them both. The truth that we proclaim regularly, every day on our radio broadcast, is that you can change your life by altering your thoughts. You can't always control things in the world, but you can control how you deal with them. But you can only control thought if you realize that you have the power to control thought. It's inherent within man, who's created in the image, likeness, of God.
Unless we understand that, we may give in to every subtle, vagrant thought that flits across the screen of life, and build up all sorts of negative forces in our consciousness.
But, and I say this emphatically, there is no evil force lying in wait for man, ever. That's my statement. There is no evil force lying in wait for man, ever! You are a creature of light in a universe of light.
If, as Paul says, you see in a mirror, darkly, and see in part, then you will see dark things which are the result of your partial perception of the whole. And they will always be the shadowy forms of the things that are deviling you in your own mind. So we need to get the basic wholeness of life, the feeling of oneness, the idea of the basic divinity of man. Know it as a principle no matter how it may be frustrated or concealed.
And I say, never permit the simplistic or paranoid view that shadows of mental doubt are caused by evil forces. And I say, reject out of hand the implication of possession by any Satanic force. The only thing that can occupy your mind is what you permit to be there, even the distortions of your mind.
You are the master, even if you've been a poor master. And if, in the limited exercising of your mastery, you have allowed all sorts of things to happen within you, then you need, and you certainly can, stand up, as did Jesus, and say, "Get thee hence!" And thus exorcize your own mind.
As the poet says, "We can go out into the darkness and put our hand into the hand of God, for it shall be to us better than light and safer than a known way."
Copyright 1981 Unity®
Unity Village, MO 64065