Friday, April 16, 2010

Spirits and an encounter with one

I suppose it's only appropriate that a blog entitled "my spiritual journey" speak, some time, about spirits.

A song: "We - are - spirits - in the material world - are - spirits - in the material world....." The Police

I had two people ask me within a day of one another if I believed in the following: angels, demons, ghosts, spirits. (Not a multiple choice question.) I said: yes, yes, yes, yes. Oh, and haunted houses too. Jesus, God, and the Holy Ghost (or Spirit), and the great liberator, Buddha. So if Jesus saves us from our sins, Buddha saves us from ourselves.

So maybe I'm just another farout whacko. That is quite possible! I have always had an active imagination and a creative love for boundless possibilities and what-ifs. The older I get, the less I truly understand. For example, my conscious mind and what is revealed in the snippets of subconscious mind that I recall from dreams are two completely different perspectives, and the subconscious (unconscious) seems to bear little or no relation to daily life and rational understanding. It makes no sense. So if there is such a world of mystery inside of me, so much more for the world outside of me.

This is one reason spiritual practice is important to me. I believe that there is good and evil in the world, and in supernatural forces. To me, what is unseen may be far more important than the evidence of our senses alone can tell us. I wish to practice and strengthen my spiritual side, much as I strengthen my body through exercise, to be able to have a deeper spiritual life and walk -- but also to help myself and others overcome, or learn to deal with, the evil that is so active in the world. To me, this is the supremely important path of life. Create more positive energy, and embrace and absorb the negative. It takes incredible strength of spirit to encompass the enormous negativity that swirls around from events and people's actions. It is possible:
"For the light has shined in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome ('comprehend') it." (From John 1)

I know "evil" itself is a controversial word. I acknowledge that it may not be strictly the exactly correct word to use. But it's useful for me. One of the best teachers I have had on human evil has been Scott Peck, who wrote "People of the Lie" and also another book on exorcism. He is a psychiatrist who came to understand, through the years of his practice, that some of what he experienced with patients was far beyond any mere diagnosis of mental illness -- that there were, in his view, outside forces at work influencing some of his patients. He said that goodness has a terrible time recognizing evil: it is tone-deaf to it. So human evil often seems just confusing, then disturbing. The confusion makes it harder to marshall a sensible response; it diffuses the effort of the person reacting to it.

Anyhow, I digress. Story of my blog life! Bottom line, I believe in good and evil spirits. I don't think it is hard to steer clear of evil spirits. To me, they lack power of their own, which is why they seek human hosts. They require a weakness or invitation to approach, and they feed on negative energy. Hatred, dissension, greed, etc. Unfortunately, there is lots of that around. It requires a simple heartfelt prayer and a conscious invoking of the good, God, to keep them away.

I had a fascinating conversation with someone who is a close and beloved friend, about a spiritual encounter she had recently at a women's spiritual retreat. This encounter, when I recall it, makes my hair stand on end. It is definitely supernatural, and neither of us could decide what type of encounter it was, or its purpose. She's not sure if she wants to make contact again.

She was sleeping in her room at the conference center. It had four beds, but she was alone in the room because the conference was not full enough to require people to share rooms with strangers. She got up in the middle of the night, went to the bathroom, and added several layers of clothing because the temperature had fallen to the mid-50s. Then she returned to bed.

As she was mostly asleep, she became aware of a presence in the room moving around, and her rational mind explained it as another person who had arrived really late in her room and was preparing for bed. Then she felt a couple of light, cat-like pounces on her bed. She was still asleep, and thought groggily, how strange that there is a cat in this room with me. She felt the creature lightly turn against her legs. (She has always liked cats.)

Then came the part that brought her wide awake and terrified: She distinctly heard a soft, sing-song feminine voice say her name out loud, one syllable at a time, in a rather windy or breathless way. She realized the room was pitch-black and none of the sounds or cat sensations made sense to her now-awake mind.

She turned on the lights and looked around. The room was empty, the doors locked. She got out her journal and began to write. Were her hands trembling? Quite possibly.

She says that a few days before this happened, she had been thinking rather casually that she felt she was ready for a spiritual guide in her life. I was all prepared to encourage her and to say, I actually have a friend who hired a spiritual guide and pays to get that help!

But she didn't mean a Human spiritual guide. She meant, well, a Spirit spiritual guide. Hairs standing on end, again. So she had offered an invitation, of sorts, which she hurriedly withdrew that evening. That was enough of that stuff. But now, she's curious again. What did the spirit want to tell her?

I am fascinated with the many accounts in the Bible of human encounters with the divine -- either God or one of his/her messengers, angels. In nearly every case, the initial human reaction is the same. Terror, sheer terror. The certainty that life is about to end. Occasionally, someone reacts differently. Jacob wrestled the presence and demanded its blessing. He had a lot of chutzpah! For his arrogance, he received a permanent hip injury as well as a blessing.

Since I, personally, associate light so strongly with goodness and love, I personally would not want a spiritual encounter to take place in the darkness, ever. Why am I writing about all this at night, when my family is away? Ah, they'll be back soon enough.

If I ever meet a spirit, I want it to shine brilliantly. I want to have to close my eyes, shield them from the dazzling brightness. Not that I feel prepared to meet an angel, or God, that directly, face to face.

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