What about Demons?
Stories, myths, and legends about demons and dragons are found in all cultures. In Europe, the tale of Saint George, who slayed a dragon and saved a distressed maiden, has been popular since mediaeval times, and many countries claim this legendary character as their patron saint.
Demons fascinate us and are particularly prominent in electronic games. Beyond cultural representation, however, do demons really exist or are they imaginary creations of the mind? If they exist, does our faith as satsangis protect us from them?
The Oxford English Dictionary defines ‘demon’ as an ‘evil spirit’ or ‘devil’. As an acknowledgement of the existence of a negative power, reference to them in one form or another appears in virtually all religions and spiritual traditions. Thus, the Greek mystics spoke of Discord, the Christians and Jews talk of Satan and the devil, Muslims refer to Shaytān, whilst a ‘lord of death’ is depicted in Hindu mythology.
A long-standing question puzzling theologians is whether a negative power is both independent of, and opposed to God, in which case God cannot be absolute; or if the negative power is acting within the will of the God, in which case why does God allow it?
In mysticism, the conundrum does not arise. Originating from God, the negative power is his servant. The Path of the Masters explains that, compared to humanity, the so-called negative power, as manifest on the inner planes, is “full of light, goodness, [and] wisdom”, and is fulfilling a “divine and loving purpose”. The Sant Mat teachings refer to the negative power as the Universal Mind, sometimes personified as Kal. The Universal Mind is viewed as the architect of time and space and the law of karma – the strict system of justice that confines souls to the realms of mind and matter. As explained in The Treasury of Mystic Terms, Vol. VI, the Universal Mind is the “prime weaver of the web of illusion”, the “integrating force between all the seemingly individual minds of the multitude of creatures”, and the “power that must be surmounted before the soul can gain freedom from birth and death and return to God.” The individual human mind, the body and the senses are all aspects of the Universal Mind and, as such, operate as agents of the negative power. Maharaj Sawan Singh explains in Spiritual Gems:
Individual mind is Kal on a small scale. It is Kal’s agent, attached to every soul to keep it out from the eye focus and keep it entangled in this world. No individual is at peace with himself and no one is happy. In ignorance, doubt and fear, men go about.… The world is a plaything of Kal.
Although the soul is a drop of the divine essence and should control the mind, in practice the soul is dominated by the mind and the mind is dominated by the senses. The Universal Mind is able to keep souls captive in two ways: by occupying the attention of the mind with the varied phenomena and activities of the creation, and also through the inescapable, exacting law of karma. The souls themselves are therefore responsible for their own suffering and bondage.
In mysticism then, the negative power is not an external power but resides within, and it is from there that the battle to free the soul from the clutches of the mind must take place. The only way to purify the negative tendencies of the individual mind and escape the negative power is through a mystical teacher who represents in human form the power sustaining the creation – the Word. By focusing our attention on the Master and following his instructions, we leave no room for demons.