“Belief? What do I believe in? I believe in sun. In rock. In the dogma of the sun and the doctrine of the rock. I believe in blood, fire, woman, rivers, eagles, storm, drums, flutes, banjos, and broom-tailed horses…”
I’m the last person on earth to believe in the supernatural, especially when it comes to religious phenomenons such as spirit possession. Hell, I don’t even believe in God, so how could I believe that a person can be inhabited by a spirit, a piece of God, who acts as a portal between our world and the spiritual one. That’s why what I witnessed, two spirit possessions during Kalachakra, was so incredibly confusing and astounding to me.
As I was sitting amongst 200,000 other people listening to the Dalai Lama I suddenly heard shrieking. As I craned my head to see the other side of the large field we were all sitting on I eventually saw a hysterical women emerge. The security guards and monks guarding his Holiness immediately went to her, but, to my surprise, let her proceed up to him where she began chanting, crying, and praying in a frenzied state. I figured she was simply a devotee extremely overwhelmed by being in the presence of his Holiness, and perhaps a touch mad as well.
And then she fainted.
She simply collapsed, suddenly, and was caught by the guards who I realize now were standing by in order to catch the women when she fell. Though the English interpreter in my earpiece explained that a spirit had just inhabited her, I probably would have dismissed the whole thing as fake had it not happened again a mere ten minutes later.
Though this time there were no sounds, the presenter on stage had stopped talking and I could sense that the crowd around me had noticed something in the distance. I then watched closely as a man wobbled drunk-like up to the stage where his Holiness was sitting. This time I paid close attention as the man urgently spoke with his Holiness until he too collapsed in a heap on the ground. The monks and guards then carried his limp body out to the grass as they had with the women and laid them both down to recover from their trance.
Now most of you reading this either think they were faking (which people have been known to do, especially in charismatic churches, which is one thing that has given spirit possession a bad name) or that I’m simply a little crazy. If I were reading this without having witnessed it myself, I would say the exact same thing. There is no doubt in my mind that these people were indeed in some sort of a trance and were not just putting on a show, but going from atheist to a believer in spirit possession in ten minutes is also a bit of a stretch. I have no idea what caused this possession, or if it was an Oracle (a medium through which God speaks) as the Buddhists believe, but it was definitely an eye opening experience into a mystical world in which I never thought I would dare enter.
Doing some research into the world of spirit possession led me to see how widespread, diverse, and controversial the idea really is. For Buddhists, God sometimes speaks through an Oracle which is used to foresee the future or to heal, though it’s main purpose is to protect the dharma (teachings of the Buddha) and it’s practitioners. The current Dalai Lama has actually received many predictions from a famous Oracle who keeps returning, the Nechung Oracle, who, if I’m not mistaken, is who my interpreter said inhabited the man I saw. In Christianity this phenomenon is defined as “slain by the spirit” when the Holy Spirit briefly inhabits people, but interestingly enough this only happens in charismatic churches where that is the sort of thing those people want to see. In Mozambique, the spirit (gamba) is thought to be dead soldiers from the war, while in South Africa, those who develop inwatso (spirit procession) are held in high regard as they are thought to foretell the future. Going back in time there are also numerous examples as well, including in Ancient Greece when oracles were frequent and prophetesses would utter Devine messages in a frenzied state. The list is endless, covering nearly the whole globe while spanning centuries, and though spirit possessions all have different names and interpretations, in truth, they all boil down to the same thing.
So here is my theory. First off, if I am to believe in God, I believe that there is only one God and that ever religion just has a different name for Him. I believe that the messengers of God (Christ, Mohammad, Buddha, Baha’ullah) have been sent down in secession to help humanity as God sees fit for that period of time but that every religion’s core messages are the same (seriously, religious wars are the most ironic and idiotic thing possible, what religion doesn’t teach love, compassion and peace?!). If this is the case, I see fit that God should get to choose how he portrays himself to different cultures (meaning different religions as I have seen beyond a doubt this trip that your religion is dictated by where you live) because he realizes that everyone is different and therefore needs to see this portal into the spiritual world in a different way according to what they can or cannot understand or believe.
Though the idea of spirit possession seems absolutely ludicrous, it also seems a bit odd that nearly every religion and culture has reports of it, and that prophecies have indeed been predicted and fulfilled through oracles time and time again. As hard as it is to contemplate the possibility of it existing, how do you explain these crazy phenomenons that have been recorded around the world in various ways since the beginning of time?
Then of course, maybe I, and thousands before me, have simply interpreted seizures and mentally ill people to be inhabited by a spirit of God because that is what we want to see. An illness gives us humans no hope, whereas the thought of God for many acts as a comfort. Though I still think many instances are faked, and that sometimes medical conditions such as epilepsy can be taken to mean something they don’t, it’s hard for me to completely ignore the two instances I saw during the Dalai Lama’s teachings as well as other spirit possessions I have since read about. Though we can’t seem to explain some of these phenomenons with today’s knowledge of science, who knows if someday that might be possible. I guess the beauty of it all is that, at least in today’s day and age, we will never truly know for certain if spirit possession really exists or not.