header pic header text

Volume V - Spiritual Liberty


Chapter VII

We often find in our daily life that we do things that we do not wish to do, things against our will and contrary to our ideals. Sometimes we recognize that such or such a friend has induced us to do an action which otherwise we should not have done, and we ascribe to him the credit or discredit of its result. It may be because our love for him is so great that we take his word to heart, whether we agree with it or not, or we may be so under the power of another person that we cannot but act as he wishes.

Occasionally we feel inclined to do a thing which apparently we have no reason to do. This is owing to the silent influence of some other person acting upon us without any spoken word and causing us to do that which we imagine to be his wish.

Sometimes the thoughts and conditions of mind of another person make so strong an impression upon us, either in the presence of that person or in his absence, according to the extent of his power, that his condition is transferred to us. We sometimes laugh without reason on seeing the intensity of another person's laughter, and we feel sad without any reason when we are in contact with one who is sorrowful. We fulfill the wish of another, not knowing that he had any such wish, sometimes even without his own knowledge of it.

It also happens now and then that we feel a desire to eat fish, and find that the cook has prepared the very dish of which we were thinking; sometimes we think of a friend and it happens that the friend comes to see us. All such instances are proofs of silent suggestion, the inner influence directed consciously or unconsciously. Sometimes we are under the influence of another person's mind and thought, at another time someone may be under our influence; it depends upon the positive or negative state of the will.

Suggestions are of two kinds; spoken command, and suggestion by thought. One who is powerful minded often may not intentionally command or suggest, and yet every word spoken by the powerful and thought by the mastermind is fulfilled. 'Word spoken and action done.' is the accomplishment which us called Siddhi by Yogis, and those so accomplished are called Sahib-i Dil by the Sufis.

Hypnotism and mesmerism are a kind of obsession for either a good or bad purpose.

The black magicians work six different spells: murder, fascination, severance, unrest, torture, persecution. The same are also wrought by the evil soul whose occupation it still is to work evil upon earth. This it accomplishes solely by means of obsession. Those subject to its influence experience any of these ill effects.

All this is partial obsession. Thousands of such influences come and go like moving pictures upon the blank curtain of man's mind, and it rarely happens that the effect lasts longer; if it does, then people call it obsession.

The influence of the dead is the same as the influence of the living, but even stronger. Their spirit throws its reflection upon the mirror of man's mind, and man acts as the spirit wishes, knowing all the while that his wishes are other than the spirit's. The intensity of spirit obsession is much greater than that of the influence of a living person; for the living are themselves subject to influences and obsessions, and their own self is an obsession to them, reflecting the various pictures of their own life upon their soul; but the spirits, from whom the burden of external existence is removed, are much more powerful, freer, and more inclined to obsess others.

Frequently, a crime is committed by a man under the influence of another. A person with an evil thought of revenge, or the desire to kill somebody, by the very concentration of his evil thought becomes so weak that he cannot do it himself. Then he may consciously or unconsciously, by the intensity of his desire, convey to some other person the suggestion of doing it. The other person is innocent of the evil desire and so has the strength to accomplish it. This is often seen with anarchists; among anarchists there are some who only plan the deed, and there are others who carry it out.

There are two sorts of obsession: one is when one soul imparts its qualities to another; the other is when one soul causes another to accomplish some deed; this may be either evil or good. In India we have often seen this with snakes. The soul focuses itself upon the snake, and then the snake will feel an inclination to go and bite a certain person.

If the influence is so strong from a living person, the obsession of a dead person, of a spirit, is much stronger still. The dead person has no other means of expression, and so he seizes upon a weak person, a weak mind, and controls that. It is not that the soul enters into the body; the soul is much too large to do that; but it reflects itself upon the other soul. A spirit focuses itself upon the soul of another; the greater power holds the lesser.

If a man has left this world full of anger, full of hatred against his enemy and longing to do him harm, he cannot find peace. If a person leaves the earth with revengeful feelings he will long to accomplish his revenge. He is restless and looking for some means to accomplish his desire. The negative soul, suited to his purpose, receives this impression; not the positive soul, but one who is weak in body or mind. The well-balanced and vigorous throw off such influences; they are not easily affected.

A spirit may obsess for a good purpose or for an evil purpose. If a mother dies before she has been able to bring her child up, and all her thoughts and affection are centered in the child, she may obsess one of the relations, who then will feel inclined to take the child and do all he can for it.

It may happen the case of soul-mates. Especially in the East this is often seen, where a man may love a girl or woman whom he has seen only once and there is no chance of his ever seeing her again. Then, if he dies, she may become obsessed. She can think of nothing else but his thought and she becomes half dead, and is often in a trance. It may not be that she loved him very much, but his thought obsesses her, and she feels his condition only.

The disciples of Khwaja  Nizamuddin Wali, a great saint of Delhi, were once sitting waiting for him to come and speak upon a very abstruse and difficult matter, when to their astonishment they saw his servant come into the room and sit down on the murshid's seat.  Nizamuddin then came in, made a very deep bow to the servant and took his seat before him. The servant began to speak and spoke for some time, explaining some very subtle and deep questions. Then a change came over his face, he looked around, and ran from the room in great confusion. Afterwards  Nizamuddin told his disciples that he had asked his murshid for the answer to some very difficult question, and that the subject was so complex that the murshid needed a human form in order to explain it exactly, and that was why he had spoken through the servant.

I have taken a great interest in this subject. As a boy, out of curiosity, I studied it very much. I have always gone where obsessed people were to be found and I have seen some very curious and remarkable cases of obsession. One was in a Parsi family. There was a young lady who sometimes once a day and sometimes two or three times, would change her mood and would speak in Arabic and Persian; and she spoke about philosophy and metaphysics which she had never been taught. She was so strongly obsessed that she did not care to speak to her father and mother or her brothers and sisters or anyone else; nor would she ever go out. She always had incense burning in her room and led a very retired life. They brought learned people to speak with her, and she discussed with them like a great philosopher and got the better of the argument. Then she would forget it all again. At Secunderabad there was a boy who sang Telagu songs. He had never learnt them, because Telagu is not spoken there among Muslims. Sometimes he would sing many songs, and then later on he could not sing one.

Many people who are obsessed go to Ujjain in Central India to be healed at the tomb of a Sufi, Miran Datar, a saint who in his lifetime cured cases of obsession, and continued doing so even after death. I once visited this place. On the steps of the tomb a man was sitting who seemed a quiet and thoughtful person. He was praying. I spoke to him. If I had known that he was obsessed, I would not have spoken to him, but I did not know it. I asked him, 'Why are you here?' He said, 'Do not ask me such a question.' I said, 'Why not?' He said, 'Because I am afraid. Now that I am near this holy tomb I have a little strength to answer you; if I were not here I could not even do that.' He told me that he had been a storekeeper on some British liner going back and forth between Bombay and London. One day at sea he had a strange feeling, as if some power were taking hold of him, and he was not able to do anything. After that this power would often take hold of him, and he could not do what he wanted to do. At times he wanted to eat but could not; at other times, when he did not want to eat he had to go and eat. He became quite weak. He told the ship's doctor, but the doctor could do nothing for him. Then he went to see many other doctors, but none of them could help him. At last he went to the tomb of Miran Datar to see if he could find some relief.

While I was at the tomb of Miran Datar, the Prince of Kheralu came to see it, a very handsome boy of twelve or thirteen, accompanied by aides-de-camp and attendants. He was brought there to be cured. A conversation began of which we could only hear the part spoken by the prince whose words were really those of the spirit that obsessed him. He said, 'I will not leave him. I like him so much. He was in the forest, shooting, and he came near the tree on which I was sitting. Don't whip me, Miran, I am his guardian, I will not leave him. Miran, don't whip me.' The prince began to run, leaping high in to the air, and showed every sign of being severely whipped. He ran round and round the tomb, leaping every time that the invisible whip struck the spirit. At last he fell down exhausted, and his attendants at once lifted him up and carried him away.

When I came to the Western world I was curious to know whether it is only we in the East who have so many obsessed people, or whether there are obsessed people in the West also. They said to me, 'Here if someone were to show such a condition, we should put him in a lunatic asylum. If you wish to see cases such as you mention you must go there.' I went, and found that there were many who were mad and also many who were obsessed. I wanted to try some experiments in casting out the influence, but the doctors would not let me, because they wanted a medical diploma, which unfortunately I lacked.

Then they took me into the laboratory where they were dissecting brains. They showed me that this man had a certain spot in his brain that was decayed and therefore he was mad, and another man had a cavity in his skull and therefore he became mad too. I asked them whether it was the decay that caused the madness, or the madness that caused the decay. At first they were astonished. But then they thought that there might be something in my philosophy.

According to the mystic's view the cause is mostly within. It is the fever that gives heat, not the heat that gives fever. Weeping does not come first and then sadness. The sadness comes first and that causes the tears to fall.

An Arab who had lost his camel, after searching for it everywhere heard that it was in the stable of the Sherif of Mecca. He went to the Sherif and said, 'I have been told that my she-camel which I lost has been sold to you and is in your stable.' The Sherif asked him. 'How will you recognize your camel? Has she any particular marks?' The Arab said, 'She has two black marks upon her heart.' The Sherif was amazed to hear this; wondering how the Arab could know about his camel's heart; and in order to ascertain the truth the camel was cut open, and two black marks were found upon her heart. The Sherif asked, 'How could you know that your camel had these two black marks upon her heart?' The Arab replied, 'Twice my camel was in great sorrow; twice she lost her foal; she looked up and gave a deep sigh, and I knew that each time a black mark was left upon her heart.'

I have seen that there are many suffering from such influences in the West, but, science being the conqueror of religion, the casting out of devils, so often mentioned in the Bible, is today mostly regarded as only a superstition.

The East, on the contrary, has gone to the other extreme. There are a great many cases of illness there which are taken to those who cast out devils, and these, in order to get as many patients as they can, interpret every disease as the influence of a spirit.

There are, however, two advantages in this course. The first is that the patient thinks that the disease is not within himself, but is an external influence which will cease if it is cast out. This prevents his taking his illness too much to heart, for the very thought of having a disease which is rooted in the body may often lead him to his death. Instead of that, however serious the illness may be, the patient will have the impression that it is a spirit that can be cast out; and this belief may restore him to health.

The second advantage is that a wise person can, while pretending to cast out spirits, arouse the patient so that he begins to confess the secrets of his heart – some hidden thought or feeling which may have made him ill. He had not been able to speak of it, having been constrained by the situation in which he was placed, but when this poison is released, the patient can easily be cured. Faqirs often work in this way.

Sometimes women, owing to the strict customs and manners of their country and religion, cannot tell the secret of their despair to anyone, and thus they hold the poisonous seed in their heart until their death, and this consumes them within. Many have had longings which could not be attained, jealous fits which could not be explained, heart breaks which could not be repaired. All such cases show externally as a bodily disease, which doctors try to cure by chemical prescriptions, but the root remains. This treatment is like poison within mixed with poison without; the result, without any doubt, is usually death.

As soon as the patient's secret is known to the healer, he has really made a successful operation in the invisible heart and taken out all the poisonous substance which was causing the sickness and leading the patient to his death. He then releases him from this by words of consolation, by fragrance, by music, by the recitation of the names of God, and by reflecting upon the heart of the obsessed his own wisdom and piety. No doubt there are very few, even in the East, who could give the right treatment; and mostly there are real devils amongst those who profess to cast out devils.

checked 20-Feb-2006