The Power of Possession

(An extension and deepening of the essay: The High Goal of Self-Consciousness)

Part I:

What makes people do extreme, out-of-character deeds? Like taking something little personally, boycotting a kid at school, abandoning a family member, even a husband killing all his family – for no apparent reason, two loving friends becoming the greatest enemies. What makes this horrible switch, from Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde?

(And indeed I am not referring to a deterioration of the relationship, or something of the like, but to an actual switch).

There could be no rational, evidence-based reason. If we come back to taking what someone said personally, then it is not at all on the same level of power and damage as anger, aggression, antagonism, and other negative emotions, it is much more destructive and damaging. 

Every negative emotion could be explained but not the extreme examples above, they appear from nowhere and cause massive damage. 

Again, these examples are not a result of a process, of deterioration by stages, it is an irruption, bursting out from the inside, as from nowhere, and suddenly it rules everything. For example, when one is under the state of taking what someone said – personally, then all of a sudden this other person becomes an enemy. A moment before he wasn’t, and now he is totally and only an enemy.

A regular explanation would not do here, they fail in front of the sudden, extreme shift. Almost a kind of quantum leap.

Part II:

There could be no rational explanations for such switches, the explanation must be more radical (because of the radical nature of the result). So the direction towards an answer must also be radical: they became possessed!

Being possessed, means being taken over by something to which you obey as a puppet on a string.

Here we are talking about possession from the inside.

One example of the power of being possessed is falling under the charisma of an egomaniac and charismatic Guru, or a worshiped great Rabbi. Under him, they might do things that might be totally extreme, like disconnecting all ties with their parents. When possessed by him – they are capable of almost anything, so powerful is the influence of possession, they have been literally possessed by the personality of the leader that overshadows their own. 

Another example: There could be a case of a beloved family member (it could be even the head of the family) who reached a high level of consciousness and therefore his system (not him) is spreading and oozing all around the people closest to him, an atmosphere of self-consciousness and self-knowing. This is not received well at all, for the air of self-knowing got turned in them into an unbearable, painful self-conflict. Exactly at the point when the inner conflict becomes unbearable, they become possessed by hatred to this family member, till the point of either emotional closure to him, up to complete disconnection from him. 

Yes, everyone has in him the capacity to become possessed either from an outside source (like the dominant Guru, or a family member who transmits to others self-consciousness). Or from the inside, when taking something personally, (but the possession itself always comes from the inside).

In order to be angry one doesn’t need to be possessed, but in order to hate – one has to be possessed. Hatred or taking someone personally – could not happen without possession. 

In order to feel anger or antagonism towards someone you don’t need to be possessed, but to be taken over by taking something or someone personally – you have to be possessed, without it, the radical power and damage of it would not come to their possible edge, power and destructive damage, what gives it this extreme power is being possessed by it. You could be angry without being possessed, but you cannot hate without it being a possession. In anger you become negative and heated up, in hatred, it happens upon you and takes you over, and because it is a possession – you surrender.

Yes, hatred is a possession, there is no other explanation for 2000 years of anti-Semitism fueled by deep hatred that led eventually to the murder of 6000000 Jews. All those who have in them antisemitism – were and are, possessed (by hatred). 

Being possessed by hatred could even lead to the very extreme cases of sudden murder of wives and even children, (but again, in order to be able to hate for real -you must be possessed).

As with the previous example of a family member who is oozing to all members of the family self-consciousness – this happens also when we meet a rare spiritual teacher, that not like most spiritual teachers – is radiating an air of self-knowledge and self-consciousness to his students, for without knowing oneself no consciousness development is possible! –  then  without wanting it –the student begins to experience difficulties; this radiating self-consciousness from the high-level teacher is causing in them, unknowingly, to take it in, and because most people live in a competitive society, they turn this blessed self-knowing into self-examination, which could only lead to inner conflict and to what seems to them as leading towards  self-distraction, so at this point, they become obsessed with hatred against the teacher that set them into a losing battle against themselves. And in most cases, this high-level spiritual teacher who is oozing self-consciousness to his students– is being either abandoned or boycotted. In any case- after a short battle of self-conflict – they vanish into the thin air, fully possessed by hatred in their being towards the teacher that was supposed to discover for them heaven on earth, and instead is making them look into themselves with knowing (in order to become less mechanical and automatic), but what they find inside causes in them hate towards this spiritual leader who made them discover the sides of them which they cannot face.

No one is grateful for the opportunity to know oneself, not for real.

And there is the hard and correct way which is: to use self-consciousness and thus become less mechanical and automatic about one’s responses and now to respond more out of understanding and full coverage of his response by full self-knowing. But it is very difficult to use it through the neutral vector and in a constructive way, very few do.

And back to the obsession; Is there a positive obsession? Like a very dedicated worker, dedicated party leader, a fully involved artist, or a loving mother, etc.? 

Well no, they are not obsessions, all of them might be only fully committed, but they themselves don’t disappear during their dedication, but in obsession, they do disappear as independent thinkers that can think for themselves, in possession, only the possession rules on the account of all which existed before, a complete control. 

Part III:

But from where do these possessions arise? From the shadow in oneself. Most possessions are a kidnapping of a person by an agent from the shadow land in his Psyche.

Anger and aggression and antagonism – all come from the emotions, however, being possessed always comes from the shadow-land. 

It is a possession from within.

Quotes on the Shadow:

It is a frightening thought that man also has a shadow side to him, consisting not just of little weaknesses- and foibles, but of a positively demonic dynamism. The individual seldom knows anything of this; to him, as an individual, it is incredible that he should ever in any circumstances go beyond himself. But let these harmless creatures form a mass, and there emerges a raging monster; and each individual is only one tiny cell in the monster’s body, so that for better or worse he must accompany it on its bloody rampages and even assist it to the utmost. Having a dark suspicion of these grim possibilities, man turns a blind eye to the shadow-side of human nature. Blindly he strives against the salutary dogma of original sin, which is yet so prodigiously true. Yes, he even hesitates to admit the conflict of which he is so painfully aware.

C.G. Jung, “On the Psychology of the Unconscious” (1912). In CW 7: Two Essays on Analytical Psychology. P.35

The change of character brought about by the uprush of collective forces is amazing. A gentle and reasonable being can be transformed into a maniac or a savage beast. One is always inclined to lay the blame on external circumstances, but nothing could explode in us if it had not been there. As a matter of fact, we are constantly living on the edge of a volcano, and there is, so far as we know, no way of protecting ourselves from a possible outburst that will destroy everybody within reach. It is certainly a good thing to preach reason and common sense, but what if you have a lunatic asylum for an audience or a crowd in a collective frenzy? There is not much difference between them because the madman and the mob are both moved by impersonal, overwhelming forces.

C.G. Jung, „Psychology and Religion” (1938). In CW 11: Psychology and Religion: West and East. P.25

Knowing your own darkness is the best method for dealing with the darkness of other people. It would help you to have a personal insight into the secrets of the human soul. Otherwise everything remains a clever intellectual trick, consisting of empty words and leading to empty talk.

~Carl Jung (Book: Selected Letters of C.G. Jung https://amzn.to/3nr0vWl

Unfortunately there can be no doubt that man is, on the whole, less good than he imagines himself or wants to be. Everyone carries a shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is…

C.G. Jung, “Psychology and Religion” (1938). In CW 11: Psychology and Religion: West and East. P.131

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