Paramhansa Yogananda spoke of “tramp souls” that wander the astral world. He described how they may try to take over our consciousness, with a desire to harm us. This seems frightening to me. Can you clear up my confusion?
Yogananda said that in the long journey back to our home in Bliss, we experience every possible form of delusion. If you are no longer drawn to being a murderer, it’s because you have tried murder in other lives and realized that it didn’t give you the happiness you were seeking. Your own experience taught you not to follow that path.
If a soul behaves without compassion or concern for others, he may surely find himself residing in an “astral slum” after death. Those who are able to see beyond the physical realm tell us that places where people drink, take drugs, and otherwise indulge in experiences that diminish their control over their minds and bodies, are literally haunted by such dark disincarnate beings. The evil tramp soul knows that such places are favorable for gaining possession of a physical body whose owner has lost control.
People often commit violent crimes when they are drunk or on drugs. Later, they may not remember committing the crime. Sometimes it is because they didn’t do it. An evil tramp spirit took possession of their body. Only when the drugs or alcohol wear off does the rightful owner take control again.
(Photo: Paramhansa Yogananda, the day before his mahasamadhi in 1952. Inner attunement with the guru’s consciousness is the safest haven against astral entities that may try to harm us.)
To take possession of another’s body harms both the controller and the person controlled. This is why Paramhansa Yogananda called hypnosis a “spiritual crime,” because it takes over the will of another. And, of course, it is especially criminal to take over a body for the purpose of committing evil deeds.
Certainly, these matters are odd and confusing. The good news is that you don’t have to fear the evil that these astral tramps are intent on doing. God’s power is greater than any tramp soul.
In his autobiography, The New Path: My Life With Paramhansa Yogananda, Swami Kriyananda describes an experience he had in meditation, in which a disincarnate entity tried to take over his body.
When Swamiji felt that the encroaching presence might be too powerful to resist, he cried out, “Master!” And the dark force disappeared.
Yogananda warned against letting ourselves become passive or blank-minded in meditation – much less inviting such beings from idle curiosity. In other words, don’t ask for trouble!
The Mother aspect of God loves us too much to leave us wandering forever in delusion. Even tramp souls, no matter how badly they behave, are Her children. She will do whatever is necessary to awaken us to our Bliss nature, even though it means we must experience the consequences of our wrong actions.
If it seems like a punishment, it is only because our perspective, like a child’s is too small. Does it seem harsh? Sometimes a mother, in her love, must be stern; but the Mother is not cruel or arbitrary. Her wisdom may exceed our understanding. But through Her wise guidance, our own understanding grows until, in time, we become one with Her.