Meditation – Spiritistic Energy Manifestations

By: Dr. John Ankerberg, Dr. John Weldon; ©2004
The authors give examples of people who have experienced “a great surge of energy” and actual possession during meditation. READER CAUTION ADVISED.

Meditation – Spiritistic Energy Manifestations

One of the principal features of New Age practice is the belief in a universal or cosmic energy circulating throughout the body (e.g., prana, chi, mana, orgone, or ki). This energy can be ma­nipulated for various spiritual or psychological purposes, and it is even palpable.

Energy “manifestations” are a principal characteristic of meditative experiences as well. Although it is widely accepted in the East that psychic powers are a natural by-product of medi­tation, the vehicle through which these psychic abilities are produced is often viewed as a from of “cosmic” energy.

A major study on meditation asked respondents to check characteristics of their in meditative experience. One description was: “I felt a great surge of energy within me or around me.”[1] Meditators whose experience could be described in this manner were to check this item. Signifi­cantly, it received the highest “loading score” of all 16 items in the category of “Intensification and Change of Consciousness.”[2]

Experiencing a “great surge of energy” was therefore a dominant characteristic of meditative experience.[3] The authors related this to the spiritistic mana of Polynesian shamanism and the occult prana, or kundalini, of Hinduism.[4] Consider other characteristic descriptions: “The force went through and through my body…. It was absolutely wild and intense…. I felt possessed by the energy.”[5] One woman described the supernatural power as “entering me and taking over my being…. I was completely possessed…. [It was] taking me over completely…. There was nothing left of the person I thought to be Marie.”[6]

The experience of a surge of energy or power is also related to the cultivation of altered states of consciousness.[7] Thus, “[Meditation is] a profoundly transformative process, for when practiced intensely, meditation disciplines almost invariably lead into the transpersonal [occult] realm of experience…. A progressive sequence of altered states of consciousness can occur, which may ultimately result in the permanent, radical [occult] shift in consciousness known as enlightenment or liberation.”[8]

For us, the key issue is to determine the nature of this energy. Transpersonal psychotherapist Dr. Frances V. Clark, who wrote her Ph.D. dissertation on “Approaching Transpersonal Con­sciousness Through Affective Imagery in Higher Education,” refers to our culture’s modern fascination with occult energies. “In recent years we have learned much about releasing energy, raising energy, transforming energy, directing energy, and controlling energy flow. Yet the energy we are talking about remains undefined.”[9]

In the preface to “Kundalini Causalities,” an article discussing the dangers of yogic kundalini arousal during meditation and other New Age therapies, The New Age Journal points out:

Traditionally, spiritual teachers have warned their students of the dangers and possible side effects of meditative techniques and helped practitioners deal with these difficulties as they arose. Now that meditation is being marketed as a mass commodity, the information concerning the dangers and the necessary help is often not part of the package. Moreover, certain body therapies and human potential techniques appear to be triggering off the Kundalini syndrome completely outside the context of spiritual training and often the therapists themselves have no idea what this energy is, let alone how to deal with it.[10]

We are convinced that the mysterious, dramatic energy experienced in New Age meditation is characteristically the result of spiritistic influence. That meditation produces energy manifesta­tions clearly associated with primitive shamanism, the occult, and Eastern or Western spiritism, is undeniable. Meditation-induced “energy manifestations” are so often associated with spiritism, that we have no doubt that this energy is not human, and certainly not divine, but demonic.[11]

Whether the phenomena are described in terms of the Eastern guru’s shaktipat diksha (transfer of occult energy), classical shamanism, kundalini arousal, or something similar in other traditions, we are dealing with one and the same energy. Many primitive traditions attribute this energy to the spirit world (cf. the num of the Kalahari !Kung tribe); others see it as an internal manifestation of divine power residing potentially within all people. Even if this energy is not directly attributed to the spirit world, the spiritistic associations and manifestations are so blatant and persuasive one would be hard-pressed to conclude that he was dealing with anything other than spirit influence or possession. Great surges of energy are typically felt by Eastern and Western gurus, who freely confess they are possessed by spirits, demons, or gods.[12] Occultists also admit the same condition,[13] as do many practitioners of yoga.[14]

Swami Rudrananda, in Spiritual Cannibalism, writes that while in meditation his master touched him, and “I immediately felt within me a surge of great spiritual force…. [M]ovements similar to those of an epileptic controlled my body for about an hour. Many strange visions appeared and I felt things opening within me that had never been opened before.”[15] In another experience, “Slowly [the spirit of my guru] Swami Nityananda came toward me and entered into my physical body. For three hours, I felt nothing of myself but that the saint had possessed me.”[16] A leading popularizer of Tibetan Buddhism in this country, Chogyam Trungpa, states, “I will say that for beginners, it is extremely dangerous to play with [this] energy, but for advanced students such work becomes relevant naturally.”[17]

One of the dangers is temporary or permanent insanity. Here are a few illustrations from meditators who follow guru Da (Bubba) Free John:

Bubba’s eyes rolled up, and his lips pulled into a sneer. His hands formed mudras [yogic movements] as he slumped against Sal, who also fell back against other devotees sitting behind him. Almost immediately, many of those present began to feel the effects of intensified Shakti [power], through the spontaneous internal movement of the life-force. Their bodies jerked or shook, their faces contorted, some began to cry, scream, and moan. The whole bathhouse seemed to have slipped into another world….
I saw Bubba just enter into Sal, just go right into Sal. From there he went out over everybody else, and then everybody else started going crazy.[18]
My hands were slowing and vibrating. It felt like electricity, like they were on radar or something, and they were just being directed to all of the people around me. I felt like I was conducting the Force through me to the others there. People were screaming and howling, crying and yelling out….[19]
As soon as I went into the room, I felt the Force. My head started jerking, and I sat down next to Billy Tsiknas and Joe Hamp. The Force went through and through my body, at first warm, then hot. It started to hurt. I was in a sitting position. My hand was raised, and I couldn’t move it because of the Force moving though it. My head was bent down. I was so full of intensity, I started to cry.[20]
I was so insane I didn’t know what was happening at all…. Everybody sitting here stared to have incredible Shakti [power] manifestations, and other things. It was absolutely intense…. When I was sitting here with everybody, I was shaking, and it felt sort of like I was possessed…. The “terror of being destroyed, totally destroyed.”[21]
Suddenly his body exploded with movement, his arms and legs flying outward, his head rolling around and snapping. Force seemed to be flung from his body into the others present.[22]

What is called “intensification,” or possession by energy, is a core experience in the historical literature of meditation and many occult practices. This “energizing” is experiences as a dra­matic and even overwhelming influx of spiritual power. It can be wild or uncontrollable, even deadly. And, irrespective of the interpretation placed on it, it shares characteristics with spirit possession. Abundant literature illustrates this, such as Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh’s The Book of the Secrets[23]; Swami Muktananda’s Play of Consciousness[24]; Swami Rudrananda’s Spiritual Cannibalism[25]; Da Free John’s Garbage and the Goddess[26]; Tal Brooke’s Riders of the Cosmic Circuit.[27]

What is troubling is the pervasive denial that what is really operating here is, in fact, demonic influence or spirit possession. The following cartoon illustration underscores our concerns:

There is a cartoon by Feiffer that illustrates some of these component aspects of meditation, and it proceeds something like this: Harry is sitting meditation; Madge walks in and asks, “Harry, what are you doing?” “I am concentrating on my mantra.” “A mantra? What’s a mantra?” “It’s a secret. I cannot tell.” “Harry, what is a mantra?” “I cannot tell,” “Harry, I must know what a mantra is. Tell me what is a mantra? It’s either me or the mantra.” Harry doesn’t tell and she packs up her bags and leaves, and Harry says, “See it works; no stress.” Meditation may be working for a variety of reasons other than the ones that the literature cites, and I think we need to research these reasons.[28]

Though no one really knows how meditation “works,” given the historic and contemporary association to spiritism, it is by far the most logical theory as to how it “works,” On the “Merv Griffin Show,” July 25,1986, Griffin interviewed New Age channeler Jach Pursel and actor Michael York and his wife. They, along with Griffin and many other top Hollywood stars, were described as disciples of “Lazaris,” the spirit entity who possessed Pursel and spoke through him while on television.

On the show, Pursel described how he met his spirit guide while engaged in his normal prac­tice of simple meditation. In October of 1974, he recalled, he was meditating as usual; there was nothing abnormal in his experience. But all of a sudden—totally unexpectedly—he became possessed. The entity took him over entirely, completely controlling him and using his vocal chords to speak through him. His wife recorded the entity’s statements, and Pursers career as a medium was launched.

The significant fact here is not the birth of another medium, but how easily Pursel became demon-possessed (he had been practicing 20-minute sessions of a simple and widely practiced form of meditation twice daily).


  1. Karlis Osis, et al., “Dimensions of the Meditative Experience,” The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, vol. 14, no. 1, 1982, p. 121.
  2. Ibid., p. 127. The method used was the Verimax Orthogonal Factor Analysis: the loading score was .66.
  3. cf. Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, “Energy,” Sannyas, no. 1, January/February 1978 and the kundalini issue (no. 2, 1976), Rajneesh International Foundation.
  4. Osis, et al., “Dimensions of the Meditative Experience,” pp. 132-133
  5. This and dozens of similar reports are given in Bubba Free John, Garbage and the Goddess (Lower Lake, DA: Dawn Horse Press, 1974), pp. 69-100 and passim.
  6. Ibid., p. 76.
  7. Osis, et al., “Dimensions of the Meditative Experience,” pp. 132-133.
  8. Roger N. Walsh, Frances Vaughan, eds., Beyond Ego: Transpersonal Dimensions in Psychology (Los Angeles, CA: J. P. Tarcher, 1980), pp. 136-137, emphasis added.
  9. Frances Clark, “Exploring Intuition: Prospects and Possibilities,” The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, vol. 5, no. 2, 1973, p. 163.
  10. “Kundalini Casualties,” The New Age Journal, March 1978, p. 47.
  11. Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, “Energy,” Sannyas, no. 1, January/February, 1978; see the kundalini issues, Sannyas, no. 2, 1976; also Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, “Suicide or Sannyas,” Sannyas, no. 2, 1978; Tal Brooke, Riders of the Cosmic Circuit: Rajneesh, Sai Baba, Muktananda… Gods of the New Age (Batavia, IL: Lion, 1986). (1039/ 1040/249).
  12. Brooke, Riders of the Cosmic Circuit.
  13. David Conway, Magic: An Occult Primer (New York: Bantam, 1973), pp. 129-132.
  14. Swami Bakta Vishita, Genuine Mediumship (n.p.p.: Yoga Publications Society, 1919).
  15. Rudi [Swami Rudrananda], Spiritual Cannibalism (New York: Quick Fox, 1973), p. 85.
  16. Rudi [Swami Rudrananda], Spiritual Cannibalism (Woodstock, New York: Overlook Press, 1978), p. 13.
  17. Chogyam Trungpa, “An Approach to Meditation,” The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, vol. 5, no. 1, 1973, p. 74.
  18. Bubba Free John, Garbage and the Goddess, p. 47.
  19. Ibid., p. 60.
  20. Ibid., p. 61.
  21. Ibid., p. 66.
  22. Ibid., p. 72.
  23. Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, The Book of the Secrets, Volume 1: Discourses on Vigyana Bhairava Tantra (New York: Harper Colophon, 1977.
  24. Swami Muktananda, Play of Consciousness (New York: Harper & Row, 1978).
  25. Rudi [Swami Rudrananda], Spiritual Cannibalism (Woodstock, New York: Overlook Press, 1978).
  26. Bubba Free John, Garbage and the Goddess (Lower Lake, DA: Dawn Horse Press, 1974).
  27. Tal Brooke, Riders of the Cosmic Circuit: Rajneesh, Sai Baba, Muktananda… Gods of the New Age (Batavia, IL: Lion, 1986).
  28. Roger Walsh, et al., “Meditation: Aspects of Research and Practice,” The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, vol. 10, no. 2, 1978, p. 128.

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