In this article we will talk about the elusive and paradoxical entities known as ‘Thought-forms’. Science can’t deal with them because they can’t be the object of experimental verification and it is not possible to deal with this topic from a purely intellectual point of view. Only the people who carry out a radical work on themselves can ask themselves if thought-forms really exist. We will analyze the relation between thought-forms, ‘subtle’ bodies of man and prime Matter of the Alchemists; we will talk about the nature of maggots, shells and other invisible entities that man can feed or even equip with their own life through his psychic energies and finally, we will deal with the thought-forms created by a community of men, which are called Eggregore.|
by Alessandro Orlandi
© copyright by Esonet.it – Esonet.com
1. Prime matter of the alchemic work, subtle bodies of man and thought-forms
There is an endless dispute about three different methods of considering the Prime Matter of alchemists.
A first position is taken by Jungian-spiritualists, who state that the Opus Alchemicum concerns first of all the relation with our imagination, the relation between animus and soul, the conciliatio oppositorum in the sense expressed by Neumann in ‘ The Great Mother' and in ‘ The origins and history of consciousness' .
On the contrary, some Masons link the transformation of the Opus alchemicum with the various initiatory degrees and with the integration with one's own Shadow achieved in the journey inside a Traditional Organization.
Finally, a distinctly Spagyric Current underlines the importance of the Laboratory next to the Oratory, the reality of a Matter on which to work (it is often highlighted the opportunity of working specifically on metals), the need to have a furnace, a fire and a Vase that must be recognized, built and used in order not to remain in the kingdom of words and illusions…
Is someone right or wrong? Or, by any chance, aren't all of the three positions right (or wrong)… won't there be something fundamental that has been overlooked?
Many of the statements expressed on the subject of alchemy concern the possibility that the vase on which to work is the human body or it is not (up to Crowley's position, who sees in sexual drives the fire that can start many transformations), but they forget a fundamental fact.
According to all traditions the human ‘body' is not limited to its visible aspect. For Egyptians, next to the physical body subject to putrefaction, the khat or sahu , there were also the shut (or khabbit ), the ethereal body, the Latin umbra , also destined to dissolve after death, the Ka , the astral body or emotional body, which could avoid dissolution after death thanks to the support of the mummification of the physical body, of the Canopic vase, of writings on the walls of the sepulcher and offers, but it wasn't subject to further evolution. Then the Ba , the soul that linked the spiritual and divine plane with the earthly plane and finally the Akh , the immortal body of light.
In Asian doctrines as well we find a similar distinction. In Tibetan tradition, in the state of Bard, following death, whilst the material body dissolves, the consciousness of the dead person wanders in a kind of maze of nightmares and it is placed in front of the thought-forms fed during life, which can take different colors. Some of them lead towards Liberation and subtle and spiritual bodies, others towards the rebirth in less and less advanced forms. These thought-forms are a kind of extroversion of the conscious and unconscious hopes and fears that the person nourished during his life. Since they have been feeding on his energy for years, they still demand nourishment from the subtle body, which (temporarily) survives to the physical death and therefore they appear to the dead person as ‘devouring divinities' that claim his energies.
In Hindu Yoga and in Taoism, the path that leads the soul to identify itself with the Atman of the Upanisad is long; it is immortal and defined by: ‘it is not this, it is not that'; the structure of the bodies where the cosmos reflects itself is complex. Nevertheless we can mention the ethereal essences called ‘ Po ', which die together with the physical body, and the astral ones called ‘ Hum ', which last after death and contribute to the formation of the Shen or spiritual body. Oriental alchemists believe that by purifying the vital breaths or Qi , we can form an ‘embryo of light' that draws its nourishment from the identification of man with Tao, the Path. A royal discipline to achieve this result is preached, for example in the Bahagavad Gita, by Hindus: not to feed on the fruit of one's actions; or the ‘Wu Wei' , the ‘not-doing' of Taoists, which has still to do with actions without attachment.
Immortality is obtained by the alchemist with the ‘strengthening' of his own body of light and by transferring consciousness into it.
In Hebrew tradition the mystic reflection of the Qabbalah on the Torah is not far from such ideas.
A famous verse of the Torah says: ‘Then HaShem God formed man of the dust of the ground ( adamah ), and breathed ( ruah ) into his nostrils the breath of life ( neshamah ); and man became a living soul ( nefesh )' [Gen 2, 7]. Well, next to the physical body ( adamá or even better basar , Gen 6, 3), cabbalists envisage a soul or psychic entity ( nefesh , Gen 1, 30 and 9, 4-5) and a proper intellect ( ruah , Gen 7, 22). According to the Zohar , one of the key books of Qabbalah, Nefesh Ruah and Neshamah are parts of the human soul that form a sequence from the lower to the higher and the intermediary between the physical body of man and his soul is Zelem (Gen 1, 26), his spiritual configuration or principle of individuality, made of subtle matter like an ethereal body.
Rabbi Shimeon writes on the subject: ‘The body of man is a pedestal to another pedestal, which is nefesh. This other pedestal is used by Ruah, which is the pedestal to Neshamah. Reflect on this gradualness of the human being and you will discover the mystery of the Eternal Wisdom that formed them in the image of the Supreme Mystery'.
The shamans all over the world talk about a Double , unknown to our diurnal consciousness, which non-initiated men are destined to meet for a short moment, only when they are dying, whilst their consciousness inexorably dissolves. On the contrary, it allows initiates, who can transfer their consciousness into it, to accomplish unthinkable undertakings and the possibility to become two. In particular Mexican shamans talk about ‘ Nagual ', variously interpreted as a totemic animal where the identity of the shaman can be transferred or a kind of ‘Energetic double' of the wizard (for example this is the idea of the Nagual accepted by the wizards of the descent of Don Juan in Carlos Castaneda's books). Provided the acquisition of certain disciplines of body and mind, ‘diurnal consciousness' can be transferred in the Nagual , allowing phenomena of doubling. Among the techniques that must be learnt to allow the transfer in one's own energetic Double, the most important seems to be remaining conscious during sleep.
A curious circumstance is that African shamans call a similar entity linked to the Double ‘ Ngwel '.
Christians, both Catholics and orthodox, insist on the triplicity of man: body, soul and spirit, although many of the attributes that are nowadays referred to the soul, in ancient times were only subtler elements of the body. Another part of Christian tradition is the belief that some men, mostly saints, can double and transfer their consciousness at will in a kind of ‘ energetic double ' that acts on their behalf and operates ‘miracles'.
…Let's go back to the Prime Matter of the Opus alchemicum. What seems obvious is that when we talk about ‘interaction with the matter' and ‘Prime matter' of the Work, we must see ‘who' perceives this matter amongst us… with which ‘eyes' we see it. If our ‘ energetic double ' is ‘looking', the distinction that opposes ‘spiritualists' to ‘spagyrists' disappear. Indeed the perception of the world, in particular of the matter, which, if existed, would have a Double , would be completely different from the ordinary diurnal consciousness and it is very hard to establish if our Double is ‘inside' or ‘outside' us… it is impossible to establish, in the state of ordinary consciousness, which are the relations between our ‘subtle' bodies and the world around them, its objects and substances… furthermore, looking at the substances from a different perspective, the material transformations of a substance might be the visible reflection of something that is happening on a subtler plane.
If this is the case, all the people who can't transport their own consciousness on the level of subtle bodies would be blind in front of the causes of alchemic transformation and they couldn't but observe their consequences on the plane of the matter, perhaps perceiving them as ‘miraculous'.
Under this perspective, the issue of which are the substances to work on (Vermilion? Stibnite? Antimony? ... and so on towards less and less noble substances such as urine), appears as totally misplaced. Who is ‘spiritually blind' can't hope to ‘touch' the matter in a way suitable to transform it, or to recognize the characteristics that make it the chosen substance for the Opus alchemicum. In other words, the man who hasn't re-awakened his ‘subtle body' interacts with matter and ‘touches' it in a plane of existence that doesn't allow any significant transformation.
Therefore the words of the alchemists: ‘to discover the prime matter is a gift of God' and ‘the matter is unique, you won't use anything that comes from elsewhere' are not in contradiction with the idea of working with a substance in ‘laboratory', wherever it is…
Jung claimed that alchemists project on the matter their own ‘journey of identification of Self', but his view assumes only a diurnal and ordinary consciousness, a nocturnal and repressed consciousness and a kind of Collective Subconscious or Superordinate Principle that manifest themselves through dreams and active imagination…Jung didn't ‘explicitly' assume any ‘subtle body', otherwise he would have been banned by the scientific community.
2. Maggots and thought-forms
Is it pure superstition to believe that the mind can create golems , thought-forms almost gifted with an autonomous life, animated by the energy we gave them?
Establishing if we believe in their existence or not has relevant effects both on ourselves and on our relationship with reality…
If we admit that we can create ‘ golems ' with their own life with our ‘creative imagination', the thought immediately goes to the so-called ‘maggots', the entities mentioned by men since ancient times in all traditions (Egyptians, Maya and Tibetan passed on to us the equivalent of a ‘Michelin guide' on the subject).
The ‘so-called' maggots are shells, ‘psychic corpses', remnants of the subtle bodies; they can remain active for a long time after the physical death, animated by what Egyptians called khabbit (not to be confused with ka ), the lower shadow of the dead person…generated by the fact that during his life he animated one or more thought-forms with fear, anger, wrath, jealousy, pain, lust, morbidity and so on… These ‘animated shells' can decompose in a very long time and they can be temporarily inhabited by parasite ‘subtle entities' much more dangerous, perhaps temporarily evocated by the inconsiderate activity of some mediums, who take the exterior forms of the ‘maggot' that they entered into.
The existence of ‘maggots' explains most of the phenomena of spiritualist evocation, which, if this explanation was true, would appear deprived of any ‘aura' of a spiritual kind. On the contrary, they would be unadvisable because they are harmful for the health, both physical and psychical, of the people who practice spiritualism.
On this subject, in ‘ With Mystics and magicians of Tibet ' Alexandra David Neel quotes the speech of a Tibetan hermit, who answered the question about being skeptical on the possibility that the creations of the mind could become ‘objective' as follows: ‘Do you think that it is sufficient not to believe in the existence of tigers to be certain that we won't be devoured by them?...Either it works consciously or unconsciously, the objectification of mental creations is a very mysterious procedure. What do these creations become? Can't it be that like children born from our flesh, these children of our spirit escape our control and are able to live their own life, either in a future time or immediately?'…'To give a comparison, imagine a river and at a short distance from its bank a space of dry land where you live. Fish never come close to your house, but if you dig a canal between the river and your house and at the end of the canal you build a pond, then the water will flow and fill your pond and the fish will come from the river and you can see them swim next to you. We must be careful not to open these ‘canals' thoughtlessly. Very few people worry about the content of the bottom of the universe that they inconsiderately drill' .
Well, talking about maggot-vampires that feed on the thought-forms of the living creatures, which go to the point of guiding their thoughts and emotions, sucking vital energy, the only proper defense from these entities is work on ourselves . These maggots can be psychic corpses, remnants of lives dominated by negative passion and emotions, as we said, or even be created artificially by operators unconscious of what they are doing or consciously by adepts of counter-initiation; they can even be psychic corpses ‘inhabited' by more or less dangerous non-human entities. The hold they have on living creatures consists of the ‘resonance' with similar negative passion, with indulgence into morbidity, anger, hypertrophy of the Ego, fears… The people who travel a luminous Path don't offer any ‘grip' to these entities; we could say that their soul has, for them, an ‘unpleasant taste'…
Surely, for reasons that we can easily guess, the places where these ‘maggots' find rich nourishment and strength are not hospitals and cemeteries, but also mass gatherings of any sign and color…This will lead us, in the last part of this article, to talk about ‘eggregore', the thought-forms created by a community of men that share passion, a common goal and an active imagination of the forces that work in the universe.
In his book called ‘The Reign of Quantity and the Sign of the Times ', René Guenon mentions the extremely serious dangers that threaten the humankind, dangers of subtle order… Dangerous passages for these ‘subtle entities', he said, are created by the indiscriminate practice of activities such as spiritualism and channeling , so dear to the New Age, from the inconsiderate development of the so-called ‘psychic powers', open passages that destroy the invisible ‘wall' that protects us from the contact with such entities, without any consideration for the qualifications of balance, sobriety and inner strength that the person who undergoes such attacks should have as virtues…I might also add that the use that we make of mass media, radio, TV, internet, in particular with regards to political and advertising propaganda, turn the humankind into the ‘global village' of McLuhan, a huge chicken farm, an inexhaustible reserve of negative emotions where these ‘maggots' can safely thrive…I wouldn't particularly mention slaughterhouses or turkey farms…the mass media users are themselves a huge farm of human turkeys.
Progress in knowledge and widening of the ability to perceive ‘subtle realities' require the necessary qualifications; until we are completely blind to the subtle worlds we are also protected from influxes and interactions which only those steadily centered in themselves are able to face. The shell of blindness and unconsciousness that surrounds almost every human being is also a protection and defense, a gift that shields them against the predatory vocation of ultra-sensible entities.
If we take the responsibility of talking about maggots, we also have to make the effort of reminding ourselves that there is an ongoing fight of Light against Darkness, a fight that we are called to face in our soul, battling to affirm Silence in place of Rumor, Synthesis in place of Dialectics (and therefore the reawakening of the unifying power of symbols), Love in place of Hatred, Beauty in place of Vulgarity and Unity in place of Fragmentation.
I know that many people claim that to find such a conflict in the world, in action or power, is a form of blindness and unilateralism, giving up to a partial view of the game of opposites. Perhaps this is the reason why I think it's so useful that the concepts of ‘good' and ‘evil', as they are proposed by Tradition (initiation and counter-initiation, gathering and dispersing, knowledge and unconsciousness of self, images flown from the heart and deceitful images produced by the mind…) are now and again re-considered. The path of inner research swarms with Supermen and Superwomen that place themselves beyond Good and Evil… Exactly this , I think, is one of the most dangerous thought-forms…the maggot of a maggot, the definitive victory of the Ego. It is possible that progressing in the journey, we finally catch a glimpse of the deep reason for everything, we guess how every dark and tenebrous aspect is nothing but the secret preparation for the dawn that will come. But who can go beyond the blinding Maya generated by the game of opposites? Only who has played this game to the end with each and every one of his cells!
This leads us to talk about the Devil as the organizing center of ‘Evil' and ‘Darkness' and his relation with our thought-forms.
3. The figure of the devil in the Christian conception of evil and its relation with thought-forms
Is it perhaps possible to face the topic of the ‘Devil' from an ‘inner' point of view? The advantage of such approach is that we start from what we can actually know and face and then, possibly, ‘recognize' the phenomenal aspects and the subtle forces that originate outside ourselves, on which of them it is possible to hypothesize everything and the contrary, or, drawing liberally from what the various Traditions say, practice a sterile ostentation of erudition…
In the evolutionary journey that all of us make, it is unavoidable the meeting with the two forces that fully justify the diaballein , the ‘division' from which the term ‘devil' comes from.
One of these forces has a satanic nature and it leads man to a descent in the matter, to sacrifice everything to the God of Money and to one's own social mask, in favor of what we call ‘success'; it drives man towards the sleep of consciousness and the negation of any transcendence. As a secondary result of this ‘disease of the soul' we have the letter without the spirit, the morals and precepts applied in a mechanic way, not vivified by an inner journey, the utilitarianism, no matter if aimed at one's own personal destiny or at the triumph of a social or religious cause, which doesn't find any obstacle in the sacrifice of human lives, because life isn't given any value.
The other danger is a luciferian spiritualism , which loses itself in its own ascending drive and proudly refuses the descent in the matter. The person who perceives his own spiritual journey as an arrogant refusal of all that is material and concrete, as an escape of spirit from the matter, as an elitist disdain of people who are not part of a small group of ‘elected' and that don't share their idiom, ideas and chrisms, only builds the abyss where he will later fall; the appeal of matter that claims its rights is the destiny of all those who want to fly to the sun with wax wings.
Many ‘New age' sects share this disease of the spirit and contribute to increase it; in general, it is only a manifestation of this degeneration the research of psychic or ‘paranormal' powers as an end in itself, that lust for power that passes off as ‘Wisdom of the Wise Men' the ability to charge with ‘negative' energies actions and object, to produce phenomena from the distance to realize desires or damage other beings and, however, to use Traditional Magic for personal purposes.
Only inner research leads to the unifying principle that has the power to neutralize both the destructive power of the ascending force of a luciferian kind and the descending one of satanic force aimed at dispersion and dissipation of man's energies. In Christianity one of the meanings of the symbol of the cross is precisely to compensate and turn to the Unity of the being the two disaggregating drives, the satanic horizontal and the luciferian vertical ones.
Facing the knot of dispersion and evil leads us to a deep confrontation with our human condition. The man who wants to progress in his journey must recognize and fight the forces that, inside and outside him, work to separate what should be joined. They have a nature both subtle and material, both invisible and visible; they are at the service of the fragmentation of the being, as well as of the disintegration, scission and dissipation of our energies. They get stronger through a form of numbness and ‘anaesthetization' towards the soul, producing creative sterility, a kind of vacuum of values and perceptive blindness, which manifests itself with a total lack of beauty in what surrounds us.
The poverty of elaboration that accompanies these diseases of the soul reduces the image of the world of the people afflicted by them to the fixation on a few obsessively recurrent thought-forms.
The man who surrounds himself with thought-forms is ready to become the unconscious vehicle of subtle forces that can manipulate him unknown to him. Unfortunately it is not impossible that many of the men who lead the destinies of contemporary history find themselves in this condition.
What we can call ‘Devil' outside us is made of the forces and energies of a subtle nature that use thought-forms as vehicles to manifest themselves, accompanied by the two ‘diseases of the soul' mentioned above, the satanic and luciferian ones.
Therefore it is completely useless to eruditely list the various names of the Devil, the images that man has built in the various traditions, to refer to this presence comparing it to Jinn, the God of death that tempts the meditating Buddha, the demons of Christianity, Satan and other demons of the Hebrew tradition, etc…
Likewise it is completely useless to remain in the phenomenal field and draw a map of paranormal phenomena connected to the manifestation of the so-called ‘Devil'…
The subtle forces manifest themselves to every man and culture according to different forms that adapt to the dominating thought-forms in this culture or individual existence. From this point of view, if we compare the images that the various cultures have elaborated for the afterlife, which are all different and contrasting, we could say that they are all ‘true'!
The negative forces outside us, which we call ‘Devil', use a condition of scission of the soul and the thought-forms that are the expression of such scission as a vehicle. The effect of a subtle ‘possession' from them belongs to the diaballein opposed to the synballein , the re-joining of what is dispersed, characteristic of symbols. The forces of a spiritual order addressed to dispersion act by using disharmonies and they use human beings as vehicles, often unconscious, to achieve their plans. They reverse the nature of symbols and address it to raise the confusion and increase the number and obscurity of the ‘dialects' used by men to address their Creator and with which they describe the Path of their inner evolution. A journey of consciousness must start from inner and outer conflicts, from the inability to love and abandon the false certainties of the Ego, from the ignorance of the correspondence between what we really are and what happens around us.
These considerations refer in particular to the difference between the initiatory path, belonging to great traditions and in a proper sense characteristic of the unique Tradition, and the counter-initiatory path, practiced by pseudo-initiatory groups that ape ways and languages of initiation and end up feeding a Tower of Babel of dialects that seem to have the purpose of making communication among men impossible.
Elemire Zolla, in ‘Uscite dal Mondo' (‘ Leave the world', Note of the Translator ), says: ‘ In evil initiations the Ego must face sacrifices like in others but the difference is that here they are not aimed at its complete extinction; indeed they isolate a nucleus made of extremely pure vengefulness towards the cosmos, vampire-like lust for other people's life, furious and naked will. The tremendous sacrifice is made and the mutilation of any other part of man is dedicated to this nucleus.'
The fact that this process is completely unconscious ad occurs inside a counter-initiatory organization or it is driven by historical contingencies and concerns thousands of individuals (just think of terrorism) doesn't make a big difference from the point of view of the final results for the soul…
We must say that psychology is a precious instrument of study and understanding for the purpose of better penetrating the nature and the domain of phenomena that we attribute to the ‘Devil'. But the fact remains that, when we talk about ‘Devil' and ‘possession', except in those cases where serious problems, such as schizophrenia, have been misunderstood, it is a sphere of eminently spiritual order, which concerns the evolution of individuals, with their ethical choices and the ‘deformities' of the soul. A psychology not supported by the ‘vision' that comes from the spirit is destined to remain irremediably blind in front of this kind of ‘reality'.
4. Eggregore: thought-forms generated by a collectivity
Finally we will consider the thought-forms that don't derive from imagination, projection and emotions of an individual, but from the intentions and passion of a whole community.
It appears that the term ‘eggregore', used to describe thought-forms originated by the psychic activity of a human group, has been used in this precise sense for the first time by the esotericist Eliphas Levi in his book The great Secret (1897). Levi refers this term to the Book of Enoch , a biblical apocryphal text considered as part of canonical literature until the 3 rd century. In the Book of Enoch the word derived from Greek ‘ egeiro ': ‘to be vigilant, to watch', referred to the angels that mixed with the daughters of men creating the mythical race of Giants. These angels are also called ‘the Guards'. The term has later been taken by many other authors and it is often used in Masonic environments.
Basically an ‘eggregore' is a thought-form created by the imaginative and emotional activity of a human group that shares a common purpose.
Such thought-form can become animated and characterize for a long time (years, centuries, millennia) history, beliefs, religious rites, rites of transformation and passage, the imagination relative to the ‘subtle entities' belonging to a community. Even the ‘Genius loci' of the place where the group lives or gathers is an eggregore, perhaps generated during several generations (they might be small human groups, such as sects or Masonic lodges or great masses of people that share an idea or interests, such as political parties, Nations or religious Institutions). From this point of view they would go under the definition that we have given both the forces that act during initiations and magical rituals, and the Gods of the pantheon of a certain religion, those ‘subtle entities' that sometimes are considered among the Angels or Demons, the manifestations that accompany a spiritualistic chain, some phenomena ordinarily classified as ‘paranormal', the so-called ‘familiar spirits', those that Latin peoples called Lares and Penates, the fashion and trends that characterize an Epoch, which English peoples call ‘the mood of time'; even some catastrophes that mark a historical period that are sometimes determined by forces originated by collective Imagination.
Basically if this view of things was true, we should re-write most of the history of the Humankind. Indeed, there wouldn't be people using ideas to determine the course of events, but rather eggregore, collective thought-forms, would use the human beings as moppets to ‘give body' and shape to what they potentially have in themselves.
An apparently similar theory was formulated by the biologist Richard Dawkins in his book The selfish Gene . According to Dawkins the human intellectual activity ends up producing independent unities of thought, that he called ‘memes'; each of them can enclose a philosophical and teleological view of the future of man and tends to reproduce, like a living organism, through the people who join that system of thought. Memes use human beings to achieve their ‘inner project' in the space of several generations.
Nevertheless eggregore, thought-forms, are different from Dawkins' memes for a fundamental aspect; in order to accept that historical events, either positive or disastrous, are determined by the invisible action of thought-forms, we must admit on one hand a magical action, distant from the human psyche, on invisible entities that are fed and almost ‘called to life' by intentions, thoughts and emotions of a community of men, on the other hand that, once acquired a kind of ‘independent existence' from their creators, as in the story of the Golem by Rabbi Loew, these imaginary entities, these collective thought-forms can have the power to influence the human beings they get in contact with through a kind of sympathetic magic by contamination, affecting the convictions and emotions of some men.
It is obvious that such a theory will never be part of any science, because the objects dealt with are not observable, their definition itself is evanescent and it is totally unverifiable that the effects derived by the alleged action of the thought-forms don't have other causes.
Eggregore and thought-forms are a chapter in human knowledge where abstract cognition has a relative importance; only the man who can (possibly) recognize and ‘use', control, dissolve thought-forms has the title to discuss their existence…
The spiritual practice and the conscious choice of a path of knowledge are a bar between the people who can and cannot perceive the existence of such entities. Not all observers are equal in this domain of knowledge. The conscious interaction with the observed object is the condicio sine qua non for the observed object to ‘exist' for those who want to perceive it.
We conclude with the example of a tradition where it is explicitly taught how to dissolve Thought-forms: Tibetan tradition. We have already mentioned that in Tibetan Buddhism it is believed that every man nourishes around himself, with his own energies, invisible thought-forms that feed on his desires, hopes and fears.
During a lifetime thought-forms acquire strength and independence and they await the death of man to banquet like vampires on his psychic energies. The Bardo Thod ö l , the Tibetan book of dead, is a spiritual guide to show the trespassed the path to recognize the monsters that meet the spirit of the dead person in the Underworld, like illusory productions of his own mind and past actions that belong to the life just gone or to other previous lives. Only recognizing the illusoriness of one's own thought-forms the dead person will not lose the path of light and will not be brought back to be reborn from his negative karma, perhaps in animal or demoniac forms. This view of the disaggregating forces of a psychic order that work in the Underworld is shared by the Egyptian Book of Dead; the death of the soul by dismemberment and by devouring from the psychic monsters fed during life is known as ‘second death' of man and it is more feared than the physical death, because of its definitive character.
The Tibetan monk, though, can appeal to a rite called Tchod to get rid, even during life, of vampire-like thought-forms that always accompany him wherever he goes.
The ritual of Tchod has two stages; during the first one, called ‘of the red banquet', the officer objectifies his own inner ghosts through his creative imagination.
They materialize and feed on his body and energies, which he offers them as a sacrifice, and they dismember him. In the invocation these ghosts are described as ‘vampires of energy', which the officer used to save his own body from death in this and other existences. He says: ‘ Today I pay my debts offering this body I loved so much for it to be destroyed' .
During the second stage, called ‘of the Black Banquet', the officer imagines himself as a pile of burnt remnants and conceives his previous sacrifice as an illusion. Indeed, since he is nothing, he didn't have anything to offer.
It is difficult here not to think about the part of the Bahagavad Gita on the Field and the Observer of the Field.
For example, in a part of the Bardo Thod ö l called ‘The path of good oaths in order to be saved from the dangerous narrow passage in the Bard', it is said: ‘The time has come to separate from this body of flesh and blood; may I recognize the body as impermanent and illusory. Now that the Bard of reality shines on me, abandoning every horror, every fear, every terror of all phenomena, may I recognize everything that appears to me as my own thought-forms….
…when the clear irradiations of the five wisdoms will shine on me may it happen that, not being scared or full of terror, I can recognize them as coming from myself' .
Cfr. A David-Neel, Mistici e Maghi del Tibet ( With Mystics and magicians of Tibet , Note of the Translator ), Rome 1965, Chapter 4.