Possession or split personality?

A mother visited a Buddhist temple together with her daughter (Alice), who seemed nonchalant. As they approached the consultation room where the abbot is waiting, Alice began to show signs of anxiety. The mother had to tug at Alice’s hand and pulled her  towards the consultation room.

The door of the consultation room was ajar and the abbot was seated facing the door. He did something extraordinary. He gestured towards Alice as if he was coaxing a dog, snapping his finger and waving at Alice to approach.

Then Alice went down on all four and crawled towards the abbot. Her behaviour resembled a tamed dog going towards her master. Alice’s mother and the bystanders were stunned by this spectacle.

When Alice was close enough to the abbot, he simply placed his hand on her head, much like how you would pat a dog.

Then he started some incantation. Before long, Alice just collapsed into a deep sleep.

When she woke up a little later, her mother brought her home.

Weeks later, the mother came to give thanks. According to her, Alice was a very studious and modest person. She was a hardworking student and was a perfect daughter any conservative Chinese mother would want to have.

However, Alice’s personality started to change into someone completely different. Her fashion sense changed, she neglected her studies, met different guys, drank and smoke all of a sudden. The changes happened within a few weeks and was too much for the mother to accept. That was the reason why she brought Alice to the temple. She suspected that Alice was possessed.

After the mystic treatment by the abbot, Alice’s personality reverted back to her former self. Her mother was extremely thankful and happy.

When I first heard this story, my first thought was ” Are you sure Alice wasn’t just being rebellious?” I mean many of us had that rebel period in life when we were growing up. Maybe her sudden change in personality is caused by stress and she was coping with it in her own way by assuming a persona she longed to be?

Her mother definitely prefers the “modest daughter” Alice to the “man hungry” Alice.

Thinking from an educated front, I can perhaps conclude that the monk played the role of a pseudo psychiatrist to help Alice reconcile her confusion and take on a more measured approach in her “growing up” rebellion?

This story happened many years back and bringing someone to a psychiatrist was taboo. Instead, monks and shaman played a more active role than psychiatrist.

BUT how do you explain the spontaneity of the spectacle? Alice behaving like a dog and the monk doing what he did, the chanting, the fainting etc.

While modern medical science is deemed more reliable because it is all about facts and study, I think it is limited precisely because of its scientific approach.

Science is limited by how advance we are in Science.

Our measuring tools and equipment continue to advance and we continue to discover new frontiers. This means that, what we know now with our present technology may become half truths in another few decades.

Perhaps there are really ghost and spirits. Perhaps the non physical realms do exist. Instead of explaining these as mere fantasy, perhaps we do not have the technology to perceive them yet?

On the other hand, we cannot brush away science and revert to old wife practice where the cure of fever is to drink blessed water.

I am glad there was an amiable result for that treatment with the abbot. I heard that he had on occasion refuse to treat someone and advised them to seek psychiatric help instead.

When you try to ask him to explain the mystic treatment, he will just brushed it off with some general reply. Perhaps we cannot perceive the truth and there is no way explaining to us. Just like trying to describe a beautiful painting to a visually impaired person.

I believe there is still much unknown.

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