The Daemon vs the Demon
Are you listening to your inner demon or your inner daemon?
Your “calling” or your “daemon” is the part of your being that you cannot deny – it is a guiding light that demands to be followed. By contrast, the “demon” is that which tries to deny that calling.
The daemon is your bodhicitta, the awakening mind. It is that which takes you most quickly to the fulfillment of your aspiration for true harmony and bliss (a bit like the yidam in Tibetan Buddhist practice).
Your inner demon is that which keeps you from your calling. Whenever your daemon calls you to grow, your demon says ‘its too scary’.
Listening for One’s Daemon
If you listen in quiet times when you’re not busy with ego concerns, your daemon will tell you its decision every single time, every single day. There’s not a moment in your day when the daemon isn’t saying what should be done. And if it isn’t speaking it’s because there’s nothing to be done.
The daemon’s voice is very quiet. It is not obsessive. It doesn’t scream at you. It’s just a very quiet voice at the bottom. You’ve heard yours many times, right?
The way you can tell if it’s the daemon’s voice is that you are in a good space. If you’re not in a good space, then do not trust the voice.
Most of the time the daemon is pretty quiet. But every nine months or so – on average – it comes up and it demands something from you. If you continually let the demon say “no” it recedes, it gets quieter and quieter and eventually it will stop talking to you at all, in this lifetime. The motivation of the voice is always for growth, which implies a struggle, which is why we avoid it.
The Struggle of the Daemon’s Growth
By struggle we mean this – when you are at points of transition in your life the daemon is probably going to ask for things you don’t want to give it. There’s no way around it.
The law of spiritual growth demands radical change. If you look at inventors, scientists, writers or painters, they are constantly reinventing themselves.
What feels like sacrifice to the ego is not sacrifice to the daemon. The demon will say its risky, its not worth it, stay home, seek pleasure, stay comfortable. But to the daemon it’s an opportunity, an opening, a possibility. And the thing with a sacrifice is that it always takes you forward.
Discipline Finds the Daemon
Most importantly, the strength to let go or sacrifice what you have now, in order to see or discover something that you know not yet, comes from discipline. If you do not have the discipline, you do not have a containment field, you don’t have a framework built around your building to sustain the walls while it goes through change.
Every spiritual teaching has disciplines. Meditation, mantras, prayers, cleaning the bathroom, making wine or sweeping the walks are examples. That discipline wasn’t supposed to be an imprisonment. It was supposed to be a room for you to let go into.
The discipline of your spiritual practice allows you to focus your mind in a very clear space, let go into it and then be ruthlessly gentle and compassionately active according to the daemon’s appearance.
And so what is the inner demon avoiding? Pressure. You cannot be a warrior on the spiritual path as long as you avoid pressure. You cannot find your daemon and you cannot walk with it as long as you just want to stay comfortable.
Your discipline gives you the breathing room and the space to incorporate the daemon, deal with the pressures of your internal and external world, to meet challenges and stay cool. If you don’t have that discipline in place you can’t do it.
So, if you want to live a life worth living, embracing your calling, your awakening principle, then practice discipline. Let your consciousness remain clearly present in each situation as it is, using your discipline of mantra and visualization, your writing, painting or teaching as the tool.
These disciplines give you the power to stay present in each moment. They allow you not to fall prey to primitive views, or conflicting emotions. And certainly not to think solely about the pay check at the end of the day. This discipline allows you to be really present for quiet voice of the Daemon and to meet the challenge and growth factor that is your calling, bliss and fulfillment.
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Meet the Teachers
Doug Duncan and Catherine Pawasarat are Dharma and meditation teachers who founded Clear Sky Meditation Centre, BC, Canada. Achariya Doug Duncan received lay ordination from Namgyal Rinpoche in 1978, and is a lineage holder in that teaching. Known for his direct, humourous and compassionate engagement with students, Doug embraces various traditions, contemporary psychology, and science, to mentor all beings to a more awakened state. Catherine Pawasarat has trained daily with Acariya Doug Duncan since 1998 in an intensive spiritual apprenticeship that is rare in the modern West. She received lay ordination from Namgyal Rinpoche in 2003. In addition to Buddhist philosophy and its applications to daily life, Catherine also draws on generative living and the arts. With Doug she is co-founder of Clear Sky Retreat Center in the BC Rockies.