Acedia: The Noonday Demon

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Acedia (pronounced ‘uh-see-dee-uh’ in English) is an important term in the lexicon of the Christian spiritual life. It derives from the Greek word akēdeia. The ancient ascetics used it to signify a specific spiritual condition that afflicts monks and indeed all people. Possible renderings into English include “boredom,” “inertia,” “sloth,” “apathy,” “repulsion,” “dis­like,” “indolence,” “lassitude,” “dejection.” Hieroschemamonk Gabriel Bunge proposes Despondency as perhaps the most apt translation of the word, “if it is understood that in the term despondency the other shades of meaning are heard together” (p. 46).

Evagrius Ponticus puts acedia right in the middle of his list of the eight fundamental passions or thoughts (logismoi): gluttony, lust, avarice, sadness, anger, acedia, vainglory, and pride. He describes them as generic thoughts because, as Bunge writes, “not only are all other thoughts generated from them, but these eight themselves are interwoven in many various ways” (p. 40). One immediately notes that the list begins with the most sensual of the passions and concludes with the most immaterial. Underlying the eight is the unlisted root vice—philautia, love of self.

Eight? we ask. Surely you have miscounted. We all know that deadly sins number seven, as famously memorialized in Bedazzled (1967), starring Peter Cook and Dudley Moore. Who can forget Raquel Welch as Lilian Lust?

And George Spiggot’s explanation of his fall from heaven should be shown to all seminar­ians as they prepare for parochial ministry.

St Gregory the Great identified the seven capital sins as superbia (pride), invidia (envy), ira (anger), avaritia (avarice), tristia (sadness), gula (gluttony), and luxuria (disordered desire or lust). Over time tristia was replaced by otiositas or dēsidia (sloth, indolence). In Dante’s Divine Comedy, for example, sloth is described as tepid love, the failure to love God with all of one’s being (lento amore). In the popular imagination sloth has become equivalent to laziness, yet the Eastern Christian understanding of acedia enjoys a much richer meaning. Acedia, says Evagrius, is the “noon-day demon” that attacks the believer when the sun is at its highest and the heat unbearably oppressive. It is more than a flaw of character but an alien power that drains the person of energy and life, ultimately leading to spiritual death and sometimes even suicide, tearing “the soul to pieces as a hunting-dog does a fawn” (p. 121).

The eight logismoi of Evagrius combine in various ways, generating different psychic-spiritual outcomes; but acedia appears to be unique in one respect: “If it is true that, for the others, at any given time they are a link in a colorful and variously assembled chain, so it is said of despondency that it is always the terminus of such a chain, and is therefore not followed immediately by any other ‘thoughts'” (p. 53). It’s as if acedia makes it impossible for the other passions to operate, so enervating is the gloom and dolor. For this reason Evagrius identifies acedia as “the most oppressive of all demons” (p. 46). On the day that it strikes, “no other thought follows that of despondency, first because it persists, and then also, because it contains in itself nearly all the thoughts” (p. 57). Hence it is one of the most dangerous of the vices and the most difficult to combat, especially if it settles into a more or less permanent condition. The frustration of desire, inevitably accompanied by anger, fuels the deadly torpidity. “A despondent person hates precisely what is available,” Evagrius writes, “and desires what is not available” (p. 57). He or she is thus reduced to a state of irrationality, “dragged by desire and beaten by hatred” (p. 57). Bunge elaborates:

Acedia, therefore, has a characteristic Janus head, which clarifies its partially contradictory manifestations…. Frustration and aggressiveness combine in a new way and produce this “complex” (that is, interwoven) phenomenon of acedia. It is this very “complexity” that makes it so impenetrable for the affected one, who really feels that he is a “poor animal.”

Finally, a characteristic time factor may be added. The other thoughts come and go at times even very rapidly, for example those of impurity and blasphemy. In contrast, the thought of acedia, because of its complex nature, which unites in itself the most diverse other thoughts, has the characteristic of lasting for a long time. From that duration arises an entirely particular state of mind, such as is typical for depression. When it is not recognized in a timely manner, or rather when one refrains from applying the appropriate remedies, it can become more or less manifest as a permanent condition.

In the life of the soul, acedia thus represents a type of dead end. A distaste for all that is available combined with a diffuse longing for what is not available paralyzes the natural functions of the soul to such a degree that no single one of any of the other thoughts can gain the upper hand! (p. 58)

Not surprisingly, Evagrius observes, the resulting lethargy leads to the neglect of prayer and the despisal of all things spiritual:

A despondent monk,
is dilatory at prayer.
And at times, he does not
speak the words of the prayer at all.
Then, just as a sick person carries no heavy burden,
so the despondent monk never, at any time, performs
the work of God with care.
The sick person, indeed,
has lost the strength of life,
while in the monk, by contrast,
the resilience of his soul has gone slack. (p. 77)

Bunge summarizes the Evagrian understanding of despondency:

Acedia is a vice, a passion, from which man suffers in the truest sense of the word, as from all passions or diseases of the soul. And, like all passions, it has its secret, invisible roots in self-love (philautia), that all-hating passion, which manifests itself in a thousand ways as a state of being stuck in oneself that renders one incapable of love. Its secret driving forces are anger, aggres­siveness, and that irrational desire which distorts all creation in a selfish way. (p. 133)

Sloth_zps5285a327.jpg~original.jpegAt this point, I suspect, most readers will prob­ably recognize the passion of acedia as one that has plagued them at various points of their lives. We call it “depres­sion,” and it enjoys multiple diagnostic codes in the DSM. How might we under­stand the relationship between the pas­sion of acedia and the mental disorder of depression? Are they identical, mutually related, or totally different? Unfor­tu­nately, Bunge does not discuss this im­por­­tant ques­tion, perhaps feeling that it is beyond his scholarly competence, and leaves it to the reader to take up the chal­lenge. One might be tempted to choose between the Evagrian and mod­ern psychiatric under­standings. This, I believe, would be unwise.

Bunge devotes a chapter to the ascetical rem­edies to acedia. He presents no mag­ical cures. Unlike the modern physician who is likely to give his patient a prescription for Zoloft or Cymbalta and leave it at that, Evagrius under­stood that the condition, particularly in its severe forms, requires sustained attention and disciplined application of the appro­pri­ate remedies. The demon does not flee easily. Yet despite the demonic stubbornness and the complexity of the passion, Evagrius believes that through patient perseverance the believer can achieve genuine victory:

Patience: a crushing of despondency. (p. 90)

The spirit of despondency
drives the monk from his cell,
but the one who has endurance will always have rest. (p. 117)

A deified intellect is an intellect that from all agitation has arrived at peace and has been adorned with the light of the vision of the Holy Trinity and begs of the Father the fulfillment of a desire that is insatiable. (p. 131)

Evil is a parasite and has already been defeated on the cross of the Son of God. Alien and unnatural to the world, it has no future. “There was a time when evil did not exist,” asserts Evagrius, “and the time will come when it will exist no more” (p. 44). Humanity was not meant for despondency. Those of us who have struggled with chronic depression will be understandably skeptical. We know too well the limits, and disappointments, of coun­sel­ing and pharmacology in the treatment of our depression; yet Evagrius understood something that we moderns have forgotten: we are beings who live simultaneously in two realms—the physical and the spiritual—and the spiritual realm is populated by demonic agencies that are seeking to destroy us through passions and mental disorders. “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Eph 6:12). We are involved in spiritual warfare, whether we believe in demons or not. Our skepticism does not change the reality. The ascetical tradition provides us with weapons and therapies that may and should be employed both against the evil supernatural powers and our disordered desires.

I will not discuss the Evagrian remedies in this review. It is best that you purchase or borrow Despondency: The Spiritual Teaching of Evagrius Ponticus and slowly and carefully read the book yourself. You may well discover, as I did, that you need to read it a second time, and then discuss it with a wise soul friend. One word of advice: do not throw away your meds or terminate your secular counseling. Several years ago I saw such counsel being dispensed on an Orthodox internet forum and was horrified. The relation between brain chemistry, moods, and spiritual states is a mystery. We must not toss aside whatever knowledge we have gained from science and depth psychology.

In the beginning of his book Father Gabriel quotes a story of St Antony the Great. This story will serve as a fitting conclusion to this review:

When the holy Abba Antony lived in the desert he was beset by acedia and attacked by many sinful thoughts. He said to God, “Lord, I want to be saved but these thoughts do not leave me alone; what shall I do in my affliction? How can I be saved?” A short while afterwards, when he got up to go out, Antony saw a man like himself sitting at his work, getting up from his work to pray, then sitting down again and plaiting a rope, then getting up to pray again. It was an angel of the Lord sent to correct him and reassure him. He heard the angel say to him, “Do this and you will be saved.” At these words, Antony was filled with joy and courage. He did this, and he was saved.

Take heart, my friends. Be patient with yourself … with life … with God. Tend to your work and prayers. Persevere in faith. Christ has conquered the world. Acedia will not have the last word.

(9 August 2014; rev.)

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16 Responses to Acedia: The Noonday Demon

  1. TJF says:

    This is a topic that is near and dear to my heart. It’s actually what got me into religion in the first place, as I’m sure is the case for most people. I’ve suffered extremely debilitating depression for a long time and had several suicide attempts, though thanks be to God, I’m a bit better now and it’s due a lot to things like this that I have read. I have many comments here.

    1. I think that Gabriel Bunge has to be the #1 current Orthodox writer on spiritual matters — on how to concretely cope with life’s problems. In fact, I’d say the #1 best Christian spiritual writer in general. I have read this book, Earthen Vessels, and Dragon’s Wine and Angel’s Bread at least two times each. I am still looking forward to his Rublev trinity book and maybe someday I’ll pick up the spiritual fatherhood book. I’m just a little iffy on spiritual fatherhood still — it seems to be a huge and necessary part of being Orthodox that I still haven’t quite warmed up too as I see tons of problems with having to be obedient to a “guru” and tons of potential for abuse although it does make sense to have an experienced guide you trust. Just damned hard to find one I guess. Anyways, I liked Dragon’s Wine the most and I am absolutely convinced that Evagrius was correct that anger is never justified for creatures — although I’m still at a loss to explain why it was acceptable for Christ to be angry and yet we can’t.

    2. I’ve never understood how Evagrius isn’t a saint. I get it, he probably said some heretical things, but that may not even be true if Augustine Casiday is right. It still makes absolutely no sense to me that almost the entirety of Eastern and even Western spirituality is built on Evagrius’ back and yet he is also a heretic. Any thoughts on this? Especially considering how Evagrius thought the practical/theoretical were so intertwined that an error in one meant a corresponding error in the other?

    3. The other great spiritual works I’ve benefitted a lot from were from Fr. Martin Laird, especially the second volume in his contemplation trilogy — which deals with none other than Evagrius. Evagrius truly was a psychological genius and spiritual master the likes of which the world wouldn’t see again until Dostoevsky.

    4. There is a book that is actually a phD dissertation called Evagrius Ponticus and Cognitive Science that was fairly good. Not exactly dealing with psychology, but still relates the 4th century desert father to modern science.

    I am a huge proponent of Evagrian spirituality and would definitely urge people to pick up Gabriel Bunge’s “little books” to the great benefit of their souls.

    Thank you for this informative post.

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    • Bob says:

      TJF, I’ve been trying to work EO into my life the last 4 years and this issue gets in the way for me ie spiritual father and not getting angry. I found a few western books on the topic that seems more pastoral and balanced. I’ve been on the look out for an EO Spiritual Father and had to go to RC nuns at a local convent for direction. Acedia by Kathleen Norris, Glittering Vices by Rebecca konyndyk Deyoung, Back to virtue by Peter Kreeft

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  2. Jnana Hodson says:

    Anyone want to filter this through our experience of Covid restrictions? Perhaps it hit monks because they, too, were restricted in their interactions with a wider world.
    By the way, acedia is a new word for me, but the “noonday witch” concept isn’t. This wider context is quite welcome.

    Liked by 1 person

    • TJF says:

      Evagrius, and by extension, Fr. Gabriel Bunge are quite clear on this. Acedia is not a disease which only afflicts monks, whether hermits or cenobitic monks. If it did, he says they would be stupid to keep on being monks! If the cure was as simple as not being isolated, then they would do well to stop being isolated and be more social. Alas, that is not the answer.
      Acedia affects us all, it is just that those who are in greater isolation have more time and silence to spend on the introspection and reflection required to see this gaping abyss whereas the rest of us are overwhelmed by distractions purpose built to avoid the disinfecting light of silence. This provides a thin veneer of normalcy, but it is only just that, a shadow. That means acedia does seem to hit monks harder, but they also are more able to conquer it. As Evagrius says, acedia is a demon, who if conquered by patient endurace, leads to the most resounding and equanimous joy and peace you can experience this side of the Kingdom.
      That being said, my personal feeling is that this age of pestilence may be very harmful in many ways, but if endured patiently and if we can spend more time looking at the darkness within in silence, it may just lead us to something greater we would never have known.

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  3. Dee of St Hermans says:

    This is a wonderful article! Thank you Fr Aidan. I will purchase and read this book.

    I’m coming off of a rather brutal work schedule. It seems at times like these I too suffer this problem.

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  4. TJF says:

    I have a question. Does anyone have any thoughts on how exactly we are supposed to take demons. It seems clear to me that for St. Paul and Evagrius and most, if not all, the Church Fathers seem to view demons literally, as real beings with hostile and malevolent intentions. Nowadays it is more common to see them as metaphors or ways of speaking about our own mental states. I know that, in most churchly circles, you have to embrace the former option (and indeed Gabriel Bunge does as well) but is there any warrant for having the second option or believing something like it? Any thoughts are appreciated.

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    • sdparker47 says:

      TLF,
      I should rather think any sane person would take the notion of demons to be as real as both the mental and neurological aspects of our composite being. The “prince of the power of the air,” “god of this world,” and the “thrones, dominions, principalities, and powers” against which we wage war not with physical weapons are clearly not references to a class of entities to be materialized into principally neurological or physical conditions. What, indeed, would it even mean to transmogrify the landscape of spiritual warfare into a metaphor for the physical if not the horrific suggestion that, beyond struggles of the mind, we actually are called to engage in physical warfare after all?

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      • TJF says:

        So they are real external spiritual entities then? Not just different internal mental aspects within fallen human consciousness?

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        • sdparker47 says:

          I prefer “transcendent” to “external”. But really, did Jesus not claim his kingdom was not of this world? Was his assertion in being able to summon thousands of angels to his side merely a kind of bluff in the subjunctive? Yet still, what and where are those thrones, dominions, etc. against which we are supposedly fighting? How, again, are we to fight them? Or, perhaps all this otherwise mostly hidden-and-unseen realm stuff really is just perfunctory fluff from an uncritical age? (Apparently, we’re now taking a page from the rhetoric of new atheism.) What a pathetic and anticlimactic thing the significance of cosmic reconciliation, which is the Christian evangel, becomes if things should prove never to have been truly “cosmic” to begin with; but instead ancient code for, what, cognitive behavioral therapy?

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    • Grant says:

      This is quite a complicated topic and one in which real definitive answer is given (as to what are the nature of demons, fallen angels is a classic view, but not it not dogmatic one with alternatives). There is certainly often not the hard lines drawn, certainly not the ones that would often satisfy modern obsessions with strict categorizations and desires to break everything down into systems and such. Often the line between metaphors to both mental states or illness or particular sins, and beyond the societal structures, things for example that feed the culture of death, or the talk of things having a spirit, such the ‘spirit of the age’ the spirit of anti-christ, ‘testing the spirits’ don’t even in the New Testament 1st century context and certainly beyond refer to spirits only in the sense of conscious beings but of an idea, concept, of a movement that can enslave or beholden people. It can be used in either, but also more complexly in both ways at the same time, both a conscious entity and a sense or concept (in this a case a destructive and distorted one), a mood that enslaves people, a sin that activity traps people, into which at the same time is seemingly identified conscious spiritual agents. I suspect this complexity is to be expected when we are talking about that which operates that the level of the spiritual and mental, a complex landscape in which our own minds and spirits interact and are permeable to.

      Of course for almost anyone who has struggled with mental illness (and I can certainly testify) it came seem as if you are struggling at times with something other then yourself which is also yourself at the same time. Of being divided and opposed within your own mind and self, of something taking you over, sometimes with some effects you seem to be taken over, language of possession can definitely feel appropriate in some ways for mental illness, it does feel like something taking you over, imposing itself upon you, removing mental agency and freedom in the most central place where it matters. Certainly then there is allot of not just similarity but even a relationship between a demonic assault and suffering from mental illness or breakdown, almost even a spectrum, such that it would be both easy to consider all demonic mental illness under another name, and of course a caution to remind us to be careful in calling something directly demonic. Of course, in a broader sense, all mental illness is demonic, as a fallen evil aspect of the Fall, damaging and warping human beings and life in general, just as a disease is in that sense of death and the ‘kingdom of Satan’ who is the angel of death. Of course this is nothing new, the understanding of a distinction between mental disorders and demonic oppression was understood from early in the life of the Church (for example see the book ‘Mental Disorders and Spiritual Healing: Teachings from the Early Christian East’ by Jean-Claude Larchet) to the Catholic exorcist ritual of the 1600s I think which counsels the need to eliminate or natural causes and disorders first, advising a compassionate but sceptical approach. With far greater development and understanding of psychiatric conditions we have now, this because far more important, as clearly there would be things more likely to still be understood in demonic terms that can be better understood now in terms of mental disorder and treated as such, but the principles were well established centuries ago.

      Of course, again we shouldn’t necessary see or place a hard demarcation between mental illness on one hand and demonic activity on the other. Something that works on the level of the spiritual and mental will effect the mind, personality and mental condition of the person attacked, even if not activity possessed and would also have neurological effects given the unity of body and soul, mind and brain. Even if just from without, of course such should be treated psychiatrically, but praying for and even with, giving a spiritual dimension and praying for healing and deliverance would not as I can see hurt but be complimentary to, such an effort (including protection from any hostile affects, whether from without or even the parasitic ‘life’ that their own illness can bring). Still this must be (and is) held separate from any actually deliverance or exorcist, that can bring harm not help to someone suffering from psychiatric and/or biological conditions. Churches, such as the Catholic Church tend to be even more careful then before in this area, and before any deliverance, never mind exorcist (the last resort usually), a prospective enquirer must have all somatic and psychiatric possibilities ruled out.

      There of course is the possibility that (going with my prior point of disorders taking a parasitic ‘life’ of their own) that the demonic intelligence is real, but a shadow parasitic reflection of the person or persons it possesses. That it has not true existence of it’s own, and of course sometimes, such a when a mob rages, committing acts of violence, lynching people, or cults or so on, there is a spirit of a sort that possesses them. That it is of them, and yet it is larger than then, even as it seems bound up with the persons it ‘possesses’. That said first I don’t think as I said above at we need or should place a hard distinction between this and hostile spiritual entities at work, but rather a both/and rather than an either/or in my opinion (such as in Daniel we hear ‘the prince of the kingdom of Persia’ withstood the angel Gabriel for a time and clearly not the earthly prince by connect to him and the kingdom of Persia and it’s ruling spirit). In the spiritual realm, and with possibly entities being shadows of their true selves finding expression only parasitically, there are likely not clear separations between either ideas.

      I think in the end we must embrace the complexity of the use of the language for spirits or demons as having numerous registers, but I also think that the conviction that there are real and hostile demons or spiritual entities which all humanity of all different cultures has testified too should be taken with the utmost seriousness. And of course clearly the testimony and experience of the Church, while it true to say and read some of the Lord driving out demons as a form of healing (and again suggesting a complex spectrum rather then categories between healing and delivering people from actual demonic assault personally, taking into account disease and even the broken human systems are all in a larger sense demonic deformations, assaults, enslavements and blasphemies against God, the human person, and creation), nevertheless that the demonic are in some sense independent fallen and hostile spirits is I think a correct instinct. I also tend to think the trend to embrace only the metaphorical brings a danger of blindness and removes from Christians the ability to help (though also of course there is equal danger of embracing the demonic, as someone who once had history in ‘charismatic’ circles which tended to see demons behind every corner that has it’s own obvious and damaging dangers). But I don’t think the wisdom of our human past (and not Christian either) should be thrown aside as mere superstition and ignorance. And of course, if a Christian believes in angels then disbelieve in fallen spirits as at least a possibility seems a little odd 🙂 . As pope Francis has recently emphasised again, he views Satan a person being threatening humanity, and I think is right, while Satan can be taken to have the larger meaning of the dominion of death as ‘the kingdom of Satan’ I do think it does have a particular spirit that embodies it most clearly, that is it’s foremost slave (and in that respect to be most pitied and prayed for, thinking for instance of Gollum), he is the angel of death, and as long as that is the case no longer an angel of God.

      This article is fairly interesting on this subject, written two years ago on the rise of claims of demonic attacks/oppression/possession in the US:

      https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2018/12/catholic-exorcisms-on-the-rise/573943/

      With this quote being interesting:

      ‘Jeffrey Lieberman, the chairman of Columbia’s psychiatry department, told me that if you conducted a survey of the population seeking exorcisms, a great majority would likely suffer from a known psychiatric condition, and dissociative identity disorder would be “at the top of that group of conditions.” But Lieberman also acknowledged the possibility that a small percentage of these cases could be spiritual in nature. Over the course of his career, he’s seen a couple of cases that “could not be explained in terms of normal human physiology or natural laws.”

      The most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, known as the DSM-5, seems to recognize this still-mystifying dimension in abnormal psychology: It lists a “possession-form” subtype of dissociative identity disorder and notes that the “majority of possession states around the world” are an accepted part of specific spiritual practices—whether they be trances, shamanic rituals, or speaking in tongues. The DSM-5 is not saying that possession is a scientifically verifiable phenomenon, but rather is acknowledging that many people around the world understand their abnormal mental experiences and behaviors through a spiritual framework. Lewis-Fernández, who was on the committee that made this change, explained that Western psychiatry had long failed to accommodate widespread spiritual traditions. There are “societies where the supernatural is a daily occurrence,” he said. “It’s really modern Western societies that draw a sharp line between experiences attributed to the spiritual or the supernatural, and the material, daily world.”

      Pore over these spiritual and psychiatric frameworks long enough, and the lines begin to blur. If someone lapses into an alternate identity that announces itself as a demon bent on wresting away that person’s soul, how can anyone prove otherwise? Psychiatry has only given us models through which to understand these symptoms, new cultural contexts to replace the old ones. No lab test can pinpoint the medical source of these types of mental fractures. In one sense, the blurry shadow-selves that surface in what we call dissociative states and the demons that Catholic exorcists believe they are casting out are not so different: Both are incorporeal forces of ambiguous agency and intent, rupturing a continuous personality and forever eluding proof. ‘

      Both interesting in itself and it should the very complexities even when we begin to try and talk about mental phenomenon and spiritual entities, how to describe them and what the complex relationship is. A oppressing entity could if it exists likely cause mental disorder or increase it, and could use someone already suffering and victimized by such to parasitically live off, and effect them more, being very difficult to distinguish from the former. And of course depending on your model could depend how we see it. Still the caution and scepticism of modern professional exorcists is important, both to eliminate all natural causes first as also to seek for signs of supernatural activity and so on (since the prime purpose is to heal and get people better no matter what his hurting them or making them ill, and all cases a bad diagnosis can lead to terrible consequences).

      In the end I still feel CS Lewis warning and maxim is best as in wartime to recognise the reality of enemy agents but to be generally sceptical of any particular report without considerable proof, and that of course that the demons are happy with either error, that of denying their existing all together, or of obsessing over them, both are equally (if in different ways) dangerous. And most importantly, placing all this within the context of Christ’s complete victory and his deliverance of all (in the end, even the demonic to the extent they are real conscious entities, possibly fallen angels), and as He extorts us most often, do not fear.

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      • Grant says:

        An extension of this is that I think that is some ways, we moderns have with our technical knowledge have become quite reductionist and simplistic in our thinking in other ways. We have difficulties in conceptualizing on more than one plane at a time, it is either this or it is that, it is either a metaphor and symbol, or it is real demonic spirit, it is either a mental health issue or it is supernatural. We attempt to much to simplify, reduce and categorize things into neat little boxes, while life and reality is allot more complex and messy than that.

        In some respects our technical brilliance has left us quite infantilized in our thinking in other areas, with a quite impoverished mental and spiritual imagination and understanding compared to our forebears. More traditional, non-Western and so-called ‘primitive’ peoples often have a far richer understanding and mental vocabulary of reality than we do in many ways.

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      • TJF says:

        Thank you for this reflection Grant. I will absorb it and try to let it soak in.

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    • For what it’s worth, if you eat enough magic mushrooms you’ll come to know that there is no difference between the “literal” and “metaphorical” understanding of demons. On 10 grams of premium psilocybin, your hatred, anxiety and fear will physically manifest before your eyes, taking on humanoid form and conversing with you. Not pleasant. The upshot is when you’ve got your life more or less together and you meet friendly angels instead, who radiate your own love back to you. Demons and Angels are independent life forms, but they exist on the level of the spirit/psyche, not the level of matter (like us). If you want to get conspiratorial, you could perhaps think of them as mind-viruses.

      (Disclaimer, this is a bit of a “my two cents” comment just because I want to get email notifications for this thread)

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