Search Results for tramp souls
Deceased persons believed to be clinging to the material world, often to some particular locality and possibly holding a grudge against someone whom they believed wronged them in life.
Alternately, tramp souls are regarded as the victims of an accidental death who don’t understand why or haven’t accepted the fact that they’ve passed.
Tramp souls are said to be responsible for hauntings, obsessions and possessions.
An unofficial branch of Catholic thinking expressed by author Michael Brown (Prayer of the Warrior) attributes to homosexuality the psychological influence of tramp souls. According to Brown, a deceased woman’s spirit influences a man’s sexual preference or a male spirit influences a woman’s.
From this belief the opposite-sex spiritual influence apparently permeates the personality and the living individual comes to identify with it over time. » Demons, Obsession, Possession, Transmigration
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Most religious and mythological traditions attest to the reality of demons. For the most part, demons are regarded as dark, evil spiritual beings whose sole purpose is to wreak havoc on individuals and the world.
In Hinduism, demons appear in the Puranas as Rakshakas (evil beings capable of shape-shifting) and tramp souls. Also in Hinduism the, at one time, god-like asuras of the Vedas devolve into demonic spirit beings which, the mystic Sri Aurobindo says, try to place false and harmful ideas into the minds of impressionable, vulnerable human beings.
In Tibetan Buddhism, immediately after a person dies a priest reads the Tibetan Book of the Dead aloud over the dead body, instructing the departed soul how to avoid different spiritual lights and deceptions that demonic beings use to try to trick the deceased into falling into another earthly incarnation. And Mahayana Buddhism portrays many hells, each presided over by horrific entities
In China demons are thought to be able to inhabit dead bodies and haunt various places, both inside and out.
Demons in China… are capable of animating dead bodies, haunting cemeteries, cross roads, and the homes of relatives. Some live in Hades…others inhabit the air. Many are hungry ghosts, the spirits of those who have had no proper burial or who have no decendants to feed them sacrifices.¹
Traditional Roman Catholicism doesn’t envision the demon in terms of a psychoanalytic, physiological id or Jungian shadow archetype, as is fashionable in some circles today. Instead, traditional Catholicism makes no bones about the belief in demons. The Prayer Against Satan and The Rebellious Angels, published in 1961 by order of H. H. Pope Leo XIII refers to various “spirits of wickedness,” “diabolical legions” and “infernal invaders” that are to be driven away with the help of this solemn prayer.
Contemporary Catholicism, however, is incorporating secular and psychiatric perspectives on demons, but arguably in a clunky manner that seems to conform to ancient and medieval styles of analyzing issues. This shouldn’t be surprising as certain aspects of Catholic theological discourse borrow from Aristotelian and Thomist analytical categories and modes of analysis. And as history suggests, deeply entrenched patterns of thought and practice usually take time to be positively redirected.
In secular society alleged demons are often described as nothing more than a product of the imagination, hallucinations, an arrested or disturbed personality, mutated chromosomes, or the much debated idea of chemical imbalances. Along these lines the Catholic Catechism makes a sharp distinction between “the presence of the Evil One,” on the one hand, and current understandings of mental illness on the other:
The solemn exorcism, called “a major exorcism,” can be performed only by a priest and with the permission of the bishop. The priest must proceed with prudence, strictly observing the rules established by the Church. Exorcism is directed at the expulsion of demons or to the liberation from demonic possession through the spiritual authority which Jesus entrusted to his Church. Illness, especially psychological illness, is a very different matter; treating this is the concern of medical science. Therefore, before an exorcism is performed, it is important to ascertain that one is dealing with the presence of the Evil One, and not an illness.²
In contrast to the arguably underdeveloped either/or perspective outlined above, a more productive and responsible approach would intelligently consider different perspectives — physiological, psychological, cultural, transpersonal and spiritual — using as many of the analytical tools that are available to us in the 21st century.
Having said that, we should also keep in mind the very real possibility that God could permit a fundamentally good and ‘well adjusted’ person to be afflicted by evil, as we find, for instance, in the Old Testament Book of Job.
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¹ S. G. F. Brandon, A Dictionary of Comparative Religion, 1971, p. 230.
² Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 1673.
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In psychoanalytic terms obsession this is a neurosis where one dwells on an issue or another person to an unhealthy and potentially destructive degree.
Obsessive thinking is often accompanied with compulsive behavior—for example, an internet stalker.
Psychologists see obsessive thought and compulsive behavior as flawed mechanisms where a person tries to avoid unconscious feelings of pain, guilt or inadequacy.
A classic literary example of obsession is found in Shakespeare’s character Lady Macbeth, whose repeated hand washing bespeaks a crime and her feelings of guilt and defilement from it.
In Catholic theology, the term obsession refers to a person who is unduly influenced or harassed by evil spiritual powers or beings. By way of contrast, the term possession suggests that a person loses control over the body – but not the soul – as the devil appears to control them.
Psychological and theological perspectives on obsession arguably could be combined to their mutual advantage. For instance, an unresolved psychological complex could be a weak spot for demonic influences to develop or exacerbate physiological conditions and behavioral patterns related to obsessive-compulsive behavior.
Put simply, evil might like to prey on psychological vulnerabilities.
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According to this view, possession may be temporary or permanent.
Exorcism prayers and rituals of various complexity were developed over the centuries by the Catholic Church to repulse what are regarded as spiritual attacks from Satan. One example of an exorcism prayer is Prayer Against Satan and the Rebellious Angels, published by order of His Holiness Pope Leo XIII.
The Swiss psychiatrist C. G. Jung used the term ‘possession’ to describe the unhealthy influence of an archetype on the ego. Jung’s discussion of the archetypes includes the idea that many are equivalent to the pagan gods which are lesser than God.
The claims of contemporary psychiatry complicate the idea of possession. Materialist psychiatrists no doubt would look to delusional systems possibly rooted in faulty brain functioning as an explanation for the belief in possession.
It’s also possible that faulty brain functioning and spiritual attack go hand in hand. Just as a hacker finds weak spots within a computer’s operating system, the devil, one could argue, exploits physiological vulnerabilities within human beings.
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One definition of the word spirit points to an incorporeal being which may not be seen, as compared to a ‘ghost’ which allegedly is seen by a living person.
Spirit has several other meanings, such as an animating or vital force within life, the soul or some some kind of invisible force or presence that permeates the created universe.
Spirit arguably becomes an ambiguous concept if assessed merely from a conceptual level of analysis.
Many New Age thinkers, for instance, equate the notion of spirit with that of matter/energy. This is a dubious analog when we consider Rudolf Otto and C. G. Jung‘s treatment of the term numinosity and, moreover, the Christian understanding of The Holy Spirit.
It almost seems as if those who haven’t experienced any difference between the perception of matter/energy and spirit tend to automatically equate the two, just as one might equate any seemingly similar variables without having had a significantly direct experience of them.
By way of analogy, if one had never drunk white wine they might look at its color, recognize it as a liquid and say white wine is equivalent to apple juice or perhaps urine. And so it is, many mystics content, with the experience of spirit. Those who know, they claim, realize that spirit’s character may vary significantly, not only because spirit is passing through psychological and cultural filters, but also because of the differences inherent to spirit itself.
Since the experience of ‘the spirit’ may be associated with a ‘particular spirit,’ as in the opening definition, we have the notion of ‘pure and impure,’ ‘holy and unholy,’ ‘good and evil’ spirits, along with their respective abilities to influence human beings for good or ill.
This tremendous diversity as to the meaning of spirit is not just found in Christianity but in most world religions. But again, some well-meaning but arguably unknowing individuals tend to simplify this diversity by making unsupportable claims, as did Sri Ramakrishna, that all paths involve the same type of spirit, lead to the same place, and so on.
This may have been Ramakrishna’s belief when dabbling in different religions from his master perspective of Hinduism but it certainly isn’t everyone’s.
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The idea of the soul has innumerable meanings around the world and throughout history.
A distinction is often made between an individual soul and a world soul. Some regard the soul as a multiple entity, as in ancient Egyptian religion or the contemporary views of the trance channeler Jane Roberts/Seth.
Others insist the soul is single.
Some say the soul is the conceptual “I” that apparently remains constant throughout life.
Plato viewed the soul as single but containing multiple functions.
Aristotle saw the soul as a partly rational and partly irrational function governing bodily needs, desires and actions that disappears at death. Soul is also envisioned as a spiritual, self-motivating and eternal agent or substance.
St. Thomas Aquinas insists it is united to the body but not of the body. For Aquinas it “operates through corporeal organs” with its “proper function” being “in the understanding.”
In much of Hinduism the soul reincarnates, ultimately to merge with God, as a drop of water returns to the ocean from whence it came. In this sense, individuality is temporary at best. Ramanuja‘s Visistadvaita school of Hinduism is an important exception to this idea. For Ramanuja individual souls (jivas) emerge from and ultimately rest within God (Brahman), retaining some aspect of their individuality, existence and, therefore, reality.
The anatman doctrine of Buddhism contends that the idea of a soul is just a conceptual illusion and, in reality, does not exist.
Catholics believe that the soul is created by God at the moment of human conception, a view that has sparked intense debate among pro-life and pro-choice groups. Concerning death and the afterlife, Catholic believers say the soul rises to heaven or is purified in purgatory in preparation for heaven or descends to eternal hell.
In music “soul” refers to a form of music originating in America that blends gospel music with rhythm and blues. Although soul music was created by black Americans, its contemporary offshoots are composed and performed by anyone, anywhere.
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The belief that the soul departs from the body at death and returns to another body to live another embodied life.
In Eastern religions, the equivalent term is reincarnation; within the Western tradition, the belief in transmigration first appears in Orphism (5-6th century BCE) and later with the Pythagoreans. Western philosophy also uses the equivalent term, metempsychosis.
Many people claim to have flashback memories that they assume stem from former lives. Documented cases tell of individuals in trance states, dictating precise details about homes and places, often in distant countries that they’ve never visited. Some claim to be drawn for no apparent reason to certain ideas, interests or historical sites such as the Egyptian pyramids.
Others strongly identify with a person who’s passed. The musician K. D. Lang apparently once toyed with the idea that she was a reincarnation of Patsy Cline. And John Lennon and Yoko Ono
consciously adopted the image of themselves as the reincarnation of Victorian poets Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Robert Browning for Milk and Honey; the album jacket even reproduces verses by the Brownings next to lyrics by John and Yoko (http://www.rollingstone.com/artists/johnlennon/albums/album/192382/review/5945871/milk__honey)
It is often assumed that unusual experiences or strong identifications with the dead are ironclad proof of a past life. But there are other possible explanations for these types of experiences:
- So-called vampiric or tramp souls influence and even possess individuals in the present, infusing their memories and past desires into the minds of sensitive or impressionable living persons. The upshot is that living persons uncritically believe they have reincarnated.
- From the perspective of theology it is said that Satan uses supernatural trickery to deceive people into believing in reincarnation.
- In a less malefic vein, it’s conceivable that some individuals pierce the veil of space-time and connect with other souls from other time zones but misinterpret the experience as proof of transmigration. This hypothesis assumes, of course, that the past still somehow exists. Considering the relativity theory of Albert Einstein, this idea might not be too far fetched.
- Another view is that the living are not connecting with evil beings or those living in other regions of space-time but merely with ordinary persons who’ve passed.
While these alternative theories are no easier to prove than the idea of transmigration, many seem to uncritically embrace transmigration as if it were not just another theory but a fact. And if urged to consider alternative hypotheses, some believers in reincarnation condescendingly act as if they know it all and there’s nothing left to say on the matter.
» Mind Abuse, Pythagoras, Tramp Souls
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The relationship between faith and action raises some interesting questions, many of which are largely overlooked in contemporary society.
For starters, most religions advocate the necessity of action to keep faith alive. Action, in fact, is highly regarded in Western culture. But the meaning of the term ‘action’ is often loaded with cultural assumptions and, therefore, misunderstood.
We could say, for instance, that Trappist monks are more inwardly active than externally so. These monks, being one of the more contemplative sort, believe that their internal prayer life has positive effects on other people, just as the great saints believed that they interceded for other souls.
So if his beliefs are true, the Trappist monk is extremely active, but most of us don’t see it that way.
Faith-based action also takes a more worldly form, a form which everyone can easily understand and appreciate. Here I’m talking about charities and goodwill missions that serve the needy.
In most instances, it’s likely that a continuum exists between contemplative and worldly action. And it seems that those disposed to contemplation understand the good works of worldly folk but the converse is rarely true. This, perhaps, explains why in Hinduism the path of knowledge (jnana-yoga) is said to be more difficult than the path of action (karma-yoga). Active people often become hostile towards contemplatives. And sometimes they can even be abusive.
Along these lines, some orthodox and gnostic Christians, alike, interpret these words of Jesus Christ to his disciples as a warning to keep an eye out for vulgar materialists:
Mind you, no discussion of spirituality and abuse would be complete without calling attention to the opposite situation where charismatic gurus with an abundance of numinous powers swamp gullible disciples and, in so doing, are just as abusive toward individuals as vulgar materialists can be to potential saints. The abuse is different. But it’s still abuse.
In less extreme scenarios it seems reasonable to suggest that contemplatives and active individuals can keep each other in check, providing, or course, the rules of fair play are observed. By this I mean that some contemplatives can get smug, lazy, and authoritarian. And a good kick in the pants from an active person might, in some instances, actually help to realign them to their saintly calling (if not perhaps in the way that the active person envisioned it).
By the same token, the active person at times needs to be ‘toned down’ by the wisdom of the contemplative. For if a contemplative is truly focusing on God (and not some strange power), over time they should begin to accrue at least some wisdom that others could benefit from.
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St. Maria Faustina Helena Kowalska (1905-1938 ) was one of the great Christian mystics of the 20th century. Originally Helena Kowalska, this Polish nun wrote what has been called the Divine Mercy Diary, narrating the daily struggles and joys of her unique convent life.
Hers differs from most other spiritual diaries by virtue of its immediacy and simplicity. With her health rapidly deteriorating, Faustina strove to follow the strict religious observances of her order. And with the permission of her superiors, she continued to write striking descriptions of her alleged encounters with Jesus, whom, she says, spoke to her on a near daily basis.
Her alleged mystical visions and encounters include seeing Jesus as a person of great beauty and grace. They also include seeing many souls suffering in hell and those bound for hell—some of these hell-bound souls apparently were fallen priests and religious persons.
In a way not entirely unlike the Hindu notion of karma transfer, Faustina claims to have suffered for the spiritual benefit of others. In essence, she claims that sin transfers from some souls to others. She wrote that Christ told her:
You are not living for yourself but for souls, and other souls will profit from your sufferings. Your prolonged suffering will give them the light and strength to accept my Will (Saint Maria Faustina Helena Kowalska, Divine Mercy in My Soul, 2nd edition, Stockbridge Mass.: Marian Press, 1990, p. 34).
For believing Catholics, St. Faustina’s Diary is filled with the kind of simple, unpretentious wisdom that eludes so many apparently ‘great’ philosophers, scholars and intellectuals who are limited by the walls of their own conceptual corridors. St. Faustina writes that Jesus, in one visitation, said:
Speak to Me about everything in a completely simple and human way; by this you will give Me great joy. I understand you because I am God-Man. This simple language of your heart is more pleasing to Me than the hymns composed in My honor (Ibid., p. 316).
With regard to the idea of sacrificial love (agape), Faustina says that souls not in a state of grace caused her intense suffering by virtue of the spiritual transfer of sin and impurity:
Sometimes when I meet a soul that is not in a state of grace…the suffering is terrible (Ibid., p. 304).
She says solitary “heroic souls” are misunderstood and hated by the world but nonetheless receive strength from God as they prayerfully assist others with humility and courage:
They not only carry their own burden, but also know how to take on, and are capable of taking on, the burdens of others (Ibid., p. 329).
And she believes this essentially spiritual connection with other souls may occur at a distance:
During the night, I was suddenly awakened and knew that some soul was asking me for prayer, and that it was in much need of prayer. Briefly, but with all my soul, I asked the Lord for grace for her (Ibid., p. 319).
This evening, I felt in my soul that a certain person had need of my prayer. Immediately I began to pray. Suddenly I realize interiorly and am aware of who the spirit is who is asking this of me; I pray until I feel at peace (Ibid., p. 326).
Indeed, distance, seems to have little effect on interior perception:
For the Spirit, space does not exist. It sometimes happens that I know about a death occurring several hundred kilometers away (Ibid., p. 327).
Also, speaking of dying souls she says:
I feel vividly and clearly that spirit who is asking me for prayer. I was not aware that souls are so closely united, and often it is my Guardian Angel who tells me (Ibid., p. 325).
Concerning the idea of ‘spiritual warfare,’ in she recounts in another diary entry:
Today I have fought a battle with the spirits of darkness over one soul. How terribly Satan hates God’s mercy! I see how he opposes this whole work (Ibid., p. 320).
Faustina also says that even religious persons are far from perfect. Pettiness and jealousy figure prominently in the religious life, just as in the secular world:
I have experienced just how much envy there is, even in religious life. I see that there are few truly great souls, ready to trample on everything that is not God. O Soul, you will find no beauty outside of God. Oh, how fragile is the foundation of those who elevate themselves at the expense of others! What a loss! (Ibid., p. 326)
On a happier note, she writes that spiritually inclined souls recognize each other when they meet, even if not discussing religious matters:
A soul united with God…easily recognizes a similar soul, even if the latter has not revealed its interior [life] to it, but merely speaks in an ordinary way. It is a kind of spiritual kinship. Souls united with God are few, fewer than we think (Ibid., pp. 307-8).
Some might wonder if St. Faustina was merely hallucinating or imagining things. Nevertheless she, herself, openly admits to experiencing moments of doubt:
Once again, a terrible darkness envelops my soul. It seems to me that I am falling prey to illusions. When I went to confession to obtain some light and peace, I did not find these at all. The confessor left me with even more doubts than I had before (Ibid., p. 109).
And quite unlike many alleged psychics and mystics, she was concerned with verifying her interior perceptions:
Especially now, while I am in the hospital, I experience an inner communion with the dying who ask me for prayer when their agony begins…since this has been happening more frequently, I have been able to verify it, even to the exact hour (Ibid., p. 326).
While atheists and worldly-minded people would probably reduce Faustina’s claims to psychophysical aberrations,¹ for Catholic believers she represents the very best of their rich mystical tradition.
¹ For an alarmingly biased (and scientifically unsound) critique of parapsychology in general, see The Penguin Dictionary of Psychology, 4th edition (2009), p. 555.
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