Angels and Satan
Questions by various friends, and Answers by Swami Nirmalananda, abbot of Atma Jyoti Ashram
Are angels and archangels real individual consciousnesses, or are they some kind of energy constructs?
In Oriental cosmological view–including that of Christianity with is an Eastern religion–the individual consciousness evolves from the simplest form of manifested existence, the atom of hydrogen, to the most complex–including angels and archangels. (In India they are known as various kinds of devas–"gods"–gandharvas, asparas, etc.) They are all stages along the way to Infinity. Thus, archangels are "graduated" angels, who are themselves "graduated" human beings.
In truth, there are no human, angelic, archangelic, etc., beings as entities in themselves. Rather, there are spirits (atmas) who are presently evolving through those forms. More simply: there are no beings known as hats, coats, shoes, dresses, and trousers–those are just the clothing assumed by us humans. In the same way there are only individualized consciousnesses that are clothing themselves in various states of embodiment for the purpose of evolution. The angelic/archangelic condition is just that: a condition or state of being which is experienced by the evolving spirit in its upward passage to divinity.
It has been my understanding for years that angels are in a completely different evolutionary stream from that of human beings–that they have not passed through the evolutionary forms that lead up to the human form. I have been taught that angels are of a completely different mode of being than us, and that their evolutionary paths are irrevocably separate. Could you comment on this?
There are throughout the universe–and including our own planet–numberless types of psychic entities that are evolving along lines of their very own–beings that shall indeed never be in the human evolutionary stream. (I use the term "psychic entities" to designate beings that have bodies formed of astral–psychic–energies, rather than material energies. The term "spirit" is properly applied only to the divine spark within all beings, rather than to their relative conditions.) These range from the type of entities we call "elementals" to the guides and guardians of plant and animal life, even up to great entities who look after the welfare of solar systems. Each of these entities may be given a proper name of their own, such as sylphs, undines, pixies, kelpies, devas, gandharvas, kinnaras, etc. Chistians tend to lump them all together under the term "angels." This certainly does no harm, but is not very accurate.
Although there are indeed many "species" of non-physical entities which dwell within, upon, and above the earth, mostly affecting its mineral, plant, and non-human life, they are not properly called angels. Perhaps to use the Sanskrit term devas, as do the residents of Findhorn, is more appropriate even if not exact. Further, it is true that these residents, though evolving, will never enter into that particular evolutionary current which produces humans and angels. They are nevertheless the moral and spiritual equals of the beings within that current–as are those within all the various evolutionary streams within creation.
Who or what is "Satan"? And "Lucifer?"
Satan is the force of cosmic delusion. But since it is to a great extent the collective energies projected by deluded intelligences (souls), it is also a kind of energy being that has a form of independent (though reflected) consciousness. Those who talk about how "if God did not exist, man would invent him" have intuited a fact. Humans can create thoughtform entities that become energy robots with a dim life and consciousness of their own. Many of the "gods" that have been worshipped throughout history were such creations of human will and consciousness. It is fashionable to sneer at the declaration by Judaism and Christianity that many of the "old" gods were demons, nevertheless–they were.
Satan is much more powerful than the thoughtform gods, being drawn from countless beings over a vast span of time. Satan can be thought of as an immense blind shark that swims around and intuits who can be engulfed or eaten and perhaps even assimilated in time. In this way it perpetually increases in power and effect. As Frankenstein's monster was composed of parts taken from many bodies, so Satan is also a composite of energies or intelligent beings that are yet somewhat individual though submerged in a collective darkness of consciousness. So Satan is not an individual but a collection of both negative forces–and negative trapped souls. This is far more hideous than anything most of us can imagine. This awful conglomerate moves through the universe, both material and psychic, indeed seeking whom it may devour1 or debase. It both knows what it is doing and does not know, since much of its function is subliminal.
Lucifer is an altogether different matter, being a highly evolved creative being–an archangel or prajapati–that has turned negative while maintaining his definition as an individual entity. Since he is in total harmony with the cosmic Satanic force and has for ages added to its power as its agent, he can also be called Satan–just as Jesus "turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men."2
So what are "demons"?
Demons,3 or evil spirits, are fallen (i.e., negative-turned) angels and earthbound human souls–many of whom are under the thrall of other evil entities. There are swarms of these distorted souls that also move here and there seeking who they may devour–that is, dominate and eventually assimilate. They are like gangs of murderers that will to be what they are and yet are at the same time slaves of their commanding masters. We can think of them as divisions of a demonic army.
Just as moths and other insects are drawn to light, so Satan, Lucifer, and the evil spirits are drawn to those whose auras shine forth. And just as the moths smother the flames of lamps and candles, so these beings wish to extinguish the light of souls and seize them in the resulting darkness. Each commander of a demonic platoon wishes to be as God. And the first step is the collecting of souls to rule. Such beings often reveal themselves as gods to those susceptible to contact with them. They can even give benefits and answer the prayers of their devotees, but in time they devour them and possess them through long ages. Though in time their slaves escape–for none are "damned" forever–the experience is nonetheless monstrous and traumatic. Those who enter into the path of communication with them shall find it leading into a darkness and agony that is hardly escaped–and for most cannot be escaped at all until the end of the creation cycle. Why does God allow it? Because it is the consequence of free will. We might as well complain about God allowing people who put their hands into fire to be burned. There is no learning otherwise.
So we must learn that defence against such horrible wanderers is necessary for both inner and outer survival. The pretty-think people may not like the truth about these beings, and even deny it. But that only guarantees that they will not have any immunity to their onslaughts. I well remember assisting in the exorcism of a wholistic health center run by a positive-thinking metaphysical church. The entire place was infested with earthbound entities, including a particularly dangerous being that had gotten trapped there. Since the church denied the existence of such beings, how could they deal with them? Consequently this beautiful expensive facility was completely unusable. Within a short time of entering there anyone would leave in fear. As a result they had to call those of us who were too ignorant to know such things did not exist to come and get rid of the non-existent beings. As the little boy says in the folk story: "I was afraid of the ghosts that did not exist!"
Such things do exist, and we who strive for higher life must not naively think that we are thereby automatically protected. We must not make the mistake of the deer in Bambi (I am referring to the book, not the movie) who believes that humans are kind and friendly and is shot trying to get near them. Sincerity and good motivation have never shielded anyone from the consequences of folly. Even Jesus would not agree to risk psychic danger when Lucifer urged him to jump off the pinnacle of the Temple.4 The principle not to tempt God by foolhardy confidence is wisdom.
On a cosmic level these entities and forces need to be pushed into "the outer darkness" of chaos where they can harm no one and can in time be healed.
Being miniature universes, we, too, have inner Satan, inner Lucifer, and inner demons–all created by our own negative deeds and thoughts in this and previous lives. They, too, must be "thrust down"–back into the subconscious from which they arise–and be recycled into good forces. Just as in time Satan, Lucifer, and all demons shall be healed and restored to their original state of perfection, so we should be working even now to restore their inner counterparts within ourselves.
Just how and why did Lucifer fall?
As far as the how and why of Lucifer's dilemma: I have no idea about my own "fall," so any speculation on my part about another's fall would be worthless. It happened. I cannot say any more, except that being an Archangel is no big thing on the evolutionary ladder, and Lucifer's situation only proves the statement of one great Master: "Until you are There, you are not There." That is, the possibility of reversing the process of evolution is as open to us as is the path of progression. Evolution is really a two-way street. In the ultimate analysis, it is a matter of will, which, whether it is exclusively ours or is really God's, is always free. Therefore the option of fall is essential to our freedom to rise.
Then what about Lucifer–is he evolving, too?
Lucifer is still playing the fool, directing other similarly deluded beings in their mutual self-destruction, but in time he will truly come to himself and take the path of return–so the saints and masters have told us. But I do not plan to wait around for the event.