Betrayed by a loved one? Had a friend turn out to be a stranger? Regretted something you did and wondered why you did it? Faced down an addiction? Clawed your way out of a bad relationship?
Then you know that demons are “real.” No, they can’t pass the Amazing Randy sniff test. But if you conceive of them as harmful patterns of behavior that repeat across time, they are 100% real.
Demons don’t take over the way Plankton takes the controls from Spongebob. You have to “invite them in.” In the movies, you must buy the cursed book, say the forbidden words, or move into the evil house. In real life you have to try that cocaine, visit that strip club, or gamble with your rent money. That’s how the “demon” gets a foothold and you introduce the possibility of ending up addicted, sexually obsessed, or homeless.
Maybe believing that “demons” can “possess you” if you “let them in” is a useful fiction that prevents negative behavior patterns — you know, kind of like other useful fictions, such as “porcupines can shoot their quills” and “all guns are loaded.” Behaving as if porcupines can shoot their quills and treating all guns as if loaded effectively help prevent pain and suffering.
But surely demons don’t have agency. Or do they? Does the rabies virus have agency? Viruses aren’t conscious. And yet rabies makes the infected want to bite, which is the primary means of transmission. Sure seems like rabies has agency. Mammon, demon of riches, seems to manifest whenever people obsess about wealth. Is the demon Mammon a conscious entity repeatedly leading people astray?
I don’t know what demons are, nor do I understand their agency. All I know is that they are “real” enough to be harmful and scary. And real enough to be exorcised.
Because, sure as I’m sitting here, there are demons in all of us.
Demon Slayer: Training Involution #141
What does it take to kill a demon? Cold? Fire? Enchanted weapons? Exorcism?
- Freeze. For a 200 count (about 3 minutes), hold a pose taking as few 12-count breaks as you must. Beginners, hold a Horse Stance. Intermediate, Plank. Advanced, dead-arm hangs from a Pull-up bar or Crow-stands.
- Burn. Complete 200 reps of an exercise. Beginners, Bicycles or Crunches. Intermediate, Push-ups on knees or Steam Engines. Advanced, Down-ups or Kettlebell Swings.
- Slice. Complete 200 strikes per hand with your practice weapon of choice. Tactical pen or kubotan keychain, walking stick or cane, rattan stick, wooden knife, tomahawk, nunchaku or what-have-you.
- Exorcise. Set timer for 15 minutes. Assume meditative posture of choice. Whisper a 10-to-14-word prayer — aloud as you inhale, silently as you hesitate with lungs full, again aloud as you exhale, and once more silently as you hesitate with lungs empty. Repeat until timer beeps — roughly 200 recitations. This will force you into box breathing and facilitate a deeply meditative state. Your prayer can be religious or secular, general or specific. Even atheists can pray — pray to Light or Truth. “O Light, drive away all darkness and show me the way I pray thee.” I used the Prayer of the Heart: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.”
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