Throughout the history of mankind there has been multitude of reports of people seeing some beings that others couldn't see, contacting them in all kinds of ways, and employing them. We just cannot dismiss those thousands of instances. There must be some actual real events behind those reports. In fact, there were so many of them that in our time we are facing a great confusion of terminology concerning these "other beings": spirits, ghosts, gods, specters, phantoms, apparitions, vampires, banshees, elves, poltergeist, etc.
And today, in the 21st century, we can find any number of teachings claiming that they are the unique and only ones right in interpreting the true nature of the spirits, and that all the other teachings are big time wrong in that regard. Many well-developed religious, mythical, moral¸ and cultural systems exist to expound the place and the role of the spiritual beings in the world and in our lives.
However, if we study the matter closely and begin to get into it, we will find a formidable layer of fairy-tales, superstitions, religious guff, all kinds of cultural junk, and even pure nonsense on the subject. I personally am not concerned about any cultural, mythological, religious, or philosophical aspects of the knowledge on the spiritual beings. My concern is only just the most practical, pragmatic, and concrete aspects of getting into contact with that spiritual world.
(I think a small parenthesis is appropriate here. The thing is, all I'm saying in my lectures is not supposed to be a declaration of some sort of an absolute truth in any way. My lectures are not sermons. I don't have any goal to convince anyone about anything. I'd say, my main goal is oral practice of English. It also helps overcome and improve my personality because naturally I'm self-conscious. I am convinced that any truth can only be subjective.
There is an English saying which is 100% right: one man's truth is another man's lie. I think this proverb is the top of human wisdom (it only doesn't work for the precise and natural sciences such as mathematics, physics, and chemistry, but the scope of things not covered by these sciences is much greater than the scope of things covered by them). It seems that all the wars and violence and bloodshed on Earth took place because of just one reason: somebody thought he held the Absolute Truth and he had to force that One and Only Truth into all the others, fair or foul. Those beautiful Eternal Brilliant Unique Truths that served millions, probably billions of people to be tortured, hanged, drowned, and stoned were named "Christianity", "Allah the Only God", "Fascism", "Communism", and any other kind of "-ism". So I don't believe in any objective or absolute truth. Any truth is subjective, by its definition. There are as many truths on Earth as there are people. And the more people realize this one, the less murders will follow.
So all I'm telling about spirits is my personal subjective view, based 95% on the books and 5% on my personal experiences. Generally speaking, I do not care a rush if no one shares it with me. Sorry about that.)
I'll begin with a very brief review of the attitude toward the world of the spirits along the timeline of human history.
1) Spirits in main religions & mythologies
In India people worshipped "gods" or "semi-gods" since the ancient times. Vedas prescribe different type of offerings to those semi-gods. Bhagavad-Gita (which was created thousands of years after the oldest Vedas) says, "In the beginning of creation the Lord of all creatures created generations of men and semi-gods…" This is a clearer indication of creating the spirits than in the Bible. Who are these semi-gods? they are not the Supreme God, and yet we cannot see them. So they fall under my vast general category of "spirits".
Celestials, Dakini, demons, hungry ghosts, minor gods, major gods: there is a multitude of types and even classifications of spiritual beings in India, depending on particular religions and their branches.
However, some general notions common to Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, and Hinduism are that one category of spirits was created by the creator (not in classical Buddhism though, because it's atheistic), and another category is the spirits of men after the death of their physical bodies. The greater the enlightenment of a person when in the physical body, the greater his power after his departure. All those who became liberated from sansara (the circle of reincarnations), got their bodies of energy and were somehow different from the ordinary men who did not become enlightened in their lifetime, have been worshipped. These are called heroes, saints, canonized ones, deified ones, etc. If such an enlightened person is willing to return into the world of suffering to help out his fellow mates, then he chooses a body to be born in again, and is called Tirtkhankara. He lives in his physical body, but he is almost a god because he became so in his past life. Two such famous women in Tibetan Buddhism were Machig Labdron and A-Yu Khadro. (There are thousands of such in Tibetan and Indian traditions).
Especially martyrs are said to become powerful spirits. Many of such spirits are willing to help the mortals to become likewise liberated, with or without returning into flesh, and in the second case these saints are worshipped and brought offerings to by ordinary people to set up a beneficial connection with them. Various images of those saints are used for that purpose.
b. Greek mythology
Although we have all the gods, satires, nymphs, and naiads here, it's much harder to separate human fantasy from real facts of existence of these supernatural beings in this case, because Greek mythology doesn't give us any spiritual practices. It only describes the unthinkable feats of Olympic gods without much connection to real life. That's why it's mythology, not a religion, and not a system of spiritual practice. So for me, Greek mythology is only useful in a way of comparison with other world's disciplines. Because I believe that by comparing several spiritual traditions and finding the things common between them, one can actually find the practical way of attaining to all the valuables appraised in these traditions by getting behind the veil of myths, the cloak of useless fables.
The most ancient and wide-spread system of practices of contacting the world of spirits is shamanism. It exists with nearly all of native tribes of the earth, in all five continents, since the time immemorial. Unlike Greek mythology, this realm of human knowledge is highly practical. One of the best books on the world's shamanism is by Mircea Eliade, "Shamanism: The Techniques of Ecstasy". Typically in nearly every tribe outside of the so-called "civilized world" there is a shaman (healer, sorcerer – these sometimes being different persons, and sometimes the same one performing all these functions) who is responsible for contacting with the spiritual world for the purposes of healing his fellow mates, saving them from the evil spirits, predicting the events such as rich or poor harvest for the current year, etc. It is widely believed that a great part of the spirits are those of the ancestors of the tribe, and another part – beings of higher order like demons and gods of nature. In his book, Eliade gives definition of a shaman: the one who is a professional in techniques of ecstasy—ecstasy not in its common sense, but in the scientific sense of outside-of-itself, such as in the New Testament:
"Now the next day, as Cornelius’ people were on their way to the city, Peter went up onto the roof to pray about noon. ACTS 10:10 He became hungry and wanted a meal, and while they made preparations there came upon him a trance. There came upon him a trance: The Greek is ECSTASIS from which comes “ecstasy.” A trance is a state of absolute focus in meditation. 10:11 And Peter saw the sky parting and then descending something like a large linen cloth being let down to the ground by its four corners."
The characteristics of a shaman differ all over the world, but some remain unchanged and can be found, for example, with Siberian shamans, South American shamans, and Indonesian shamans even these days. These are the following items: a shaman must go through the initiation of a sort. This initiation is basically the process or the sign of how the spirits mark the person out, spot him, show him as their possible conductor. Many initiations must have such elements as diseases (often epilepsy), raving, passing out, and even near-to-death conditions.
Many of these symptoms are referred to in the New Testament as demon possessions. And it seems to actually be the case with the shamans, with one important exception: he who eventually cannot control these forces that possess him is disqualified from being a shaman and can never become one. He is simply possessed, and that is a miserable thing to look at. But if the candidate can cope with these forces and eventually learn to control them then he is indeed qualified to be a shaman and becomes one. Another thing in common with all the world's shamans is the imitating ritual and, supposedly, the ability of going up to heaven and down to hell and successfully return back to normal states of perception, having done some practical tasks there such as rescuing the souls of the people of their tribe (sickness is referred to as "losing one's soul" in many tribes).
And how successful a shaman's journey to the other realms would be depends on his personal power and on benevolence of the spirits whose friend the shaman is. Only shamans can see (hear, or somehow witness) the spirits, ordinary members of the tribe normally can't.
A friend of mine named Oleg told me a number of years ago how in his hometown, Schyokino, Tula region, a guy called Yura was thought to be possessed. He was this type of feeble-minded person who is usually kept in special schools for retarded people. It wasn't Mongolian syndrome though. He was often seen raving, yelling at no one in particular, and drooling. Some local Christians tried to exorcise the demon, but to no avail of course. Christians these days are not like those two thousand years ago. The interesting part is that Yura was once seen walking in a peculiar fashion on a staircase. His body actually leaned far backward as he walked up the stairs, defying gravity. If there was a shaman in Schyokino, I'm sure he would've helped out.
I knew some other Christians who told me that demon possession mainly occurs in uncivilized areas of the world, where there are tribes with their almost primitive way of life, and often along water courses because these beings are said to dwell in water.
d. Judaism & Christianity
i. Fallen angels.
The Bible begins with the story of God creating his helpers, the angels. Then at some point in time one third of the angels became corrupt and was cast from heaven down to Earth; this part is later referred to as "Satan and his angels" in the Bible. If we discard the fairy-tales ideas of angels being all white, fuzzy, human-like. having wings and a halo, then we might question ourselves: what are they like then? From several passages in the Bible we can see that angels have no physical bodies. For example, Jesus was asked, "Suppose this woman had 7 husbands in this life. Whose wife she would be in the heavens when she dies?" Jesus answered something like, "You fools, that's the most stupid question I ever heard. Spirits of men DO NOT marry after they depart, instead, they abide in a sort of angelic state. And angels NEVER marry". Of course here Jesus referred to the normal condition—he must have read the book of Enoch and known what happened after Adam's creation and before the great flood and Noah's ark. Then the angels actually married earthly women.
Demons are the spirits of men and semi-angelic bastard beings who drowned in the flood. (See my Lecture 2).
iii. G.H. Pember. The Fox house.
The straight Christianity condemns any use of any spirits except the one and only Spirit of Jesus Christ. They say any other spirits are evil without exception, and only the spirit of JC is good.
G.H. Pember reports in his book, "Earth's Earliest Ages", how in the middle of 19th century there was a famous case of poltergeist in the Fox House. There were many witnesses to that, subsequently giving rise to Spiritualism—thousands of people started believing in poltergeist, i.e. the spirits manifesting themselves in obvious ways.
e. European mythology
Myths of Europe stem mostly from Christian and Gnostic traditions, often heavily distorted by cultural influences.
i. Incubus & succubus
This mythological notion of spirits copulating with humans comes, most probably, from the same events described in the book of Enoch.
ii. Fairytales. Human imagination.
Myths grow on the ground of actual events, but eventually they become so distorted by artful imagination of the writers (especially when the stories were handed down orally from generation to generation) it's hard to see what exactly was based on real events, and what was added later to make it sound better or more exciting. That's how all the imaginary beings came into being—dragons, elves, fairies, goblins, etc.
If you would like to know more about the unreal beings, check out "Gallery of Imaginary Beings" by J.L. Borges. I'm interested in the real ones, not in the fruits of imagination.
2. Spirits in modern teachings
a. Theosophical Society
As the Indian religions were getting known to the masses in the western world in the late 19th century, a Theosophical Society was founded by colonel Olcott and Helen Blavatsky, a russian. She was said to be a crook and fraud by many; however, she performed some documented miracles in New York during meetings of the Society. She said the spirits of three Indian mahatmas, or spirits of enlightened persons of the past, possessed her.
That's when the show began, and today we see a great multitude of ESPs, psychic persons, gurus, even Christian pastors claiming that they contact the spiritual realm and feel totally at home there. And often times there is no reason to distrust them, except when they're trying to make money with that.
b. C. Castaneda
To my opinion, there is no moralistic constituent in his books whatsoever. There are no "angels" or "demons". To refer to the spiritual beings, he first uses the word "allies"—that's how the sorcerers of antiquity called them, and this concept later on proved to be disastrous for many of them because those beings were but pure energy, not anybody's allies or enemies. Before Conquista, those sorcerers believed that having an ally at hand and being able to command him to some extent would surely save them from the oppressors. This notion turned out to be erroneous, and the majority of those sorcerers has been exterminated by the Spanish conquerors along with the ordinary Indians. The sorcerers of today, according to CC, prefer to call them simply "inorganic beings", to avoid that blunder of the ancient sorcerers. This name is more neutral. One characteristic feature of his books is that CC has a purely pragmatic approach to the issue (See my Lecture 1) (pragmatic meaning enabling to travel in inconceivable other worlds vs. the pragmatism of the ancient sorcerers who were aimed at using their sorcery to gain more riches and power). Allies, or inorganic beings, probably fall under the same category as demons in NT—their characteristics are often similar.
Man's double: whenever a sorcerer becomes professed at dreaming (See my Lecture 3), he develops the powerful body of energy, or double. With it, he can do things such as teleportation, flying, etc. However, some rare people have the strong double by virtue of their birth, not practice. When the double of such people manifests itself, we have the cases of poltergeist (see Fox House above). Such was the case of CC's aunt: she troubled and scared her household at nights with her body of energy (Vol. 10).
So as we see, there are intentional and unintentional contacts with the spirits. The intentional ones are practiced by sorcerers, yogis, spiritualists and anyone who is persevering in the corresponding practices. The unintentional ones are subconscious, occasional, and are conditioned by the paranormal inborn capacities. Such people are rarely aware of their power and often are a source of annoyance to their neighbors as well as to themselves.
c. R. Monroe & his institute. Traveling to the world of the dead.
Robert Monroe (See my Lecture 3) and his coworkers, through their practice of lucid dreaming, contacted the spiritual beings in different realms, or planes: the multiple realms of real worlds existing for any lucid dreamer, very similar to those described by CC, especially in his Vol. 9; in this world (the world of our daily life); and in the realm of the dead where they contacted various deceased persons. So here's the
d. Relation with lucid dreaming:
When we are in our physical bodies, we can only contact the physical realm. And when we are in our bodies of energy that we can attain to through various practices, we can contact the spiritual realm, or the realm of energy, which is, according to the ones who traveled there, is infinitely greater than the physical one.
So, based on all the abovementioned, we may come up with the
e. Rough general classification:
i. "Fallen angels", or gods
ii. "Demons", or allies
iii. Spirits of places
iv. Doubles of the living
v.Spirits of the dead
3. The practice
Now, all theory aside, how can we practically get into contact with any of those buddies today? It seems to me that there is only one shortcut to that:
a. Stopping the internal dialogue
i. Use darkness: in the dark, there are no identifiable clues for the mind, and the internal dialogue quenches easily.
ii. Use the "gait of power" described by CC: a special way of walking in the dark trusting your other senses rather than the eyesight.
iii. Unfocusing the eyes. This delivers a powerful jolt to the babbling in your head. I experienced that many times.
— All three can be practiced in any of the parks in our city at night. If you would like to, I could take you to such trip and try to be your guide. But you would probably have to bring some big diapers with you ;-) Because the things you might witness can be scary.