Email: Evagrius the Buddhist (7.6.2020)

Dear Gillian

I am astonished at the ‘Buddhistic’ nature of early Christian monasticism. For years I studied various scholars who speculated broad associations whilst the Church denied any and all historical links. However, the Church has been successful in moving the goal-posts so that most of us are looking in the wrong place. Evagrius is obviously talking about uprooting the daemons of greed, hatred and delusion in the mind (a foundational teaching of early Buddhism), so that ‘god’ can be directly perceived (this latter bit is different as Buddha perceives non-soul – non-god, but the principle is identical). The Buddha was also tempted by ‘Mara’, or the ‘devil’ when he went into the wilderness to uproot his ‘klesa’ or ‘mental obscurations’. Daemons (klesa) are both physical and psychological with the Buddha and Evagrius stating that they often start in the mind and manifest to various strengths (and degrees) in the physical environment. However, both also seem to be saying that daemons can be concrete physical beings that are ‘attracted’ to our location and given unnecessary strength and influence over us by the corrupt state of our minds (and deficient behaviour), as well as being entirely psychological-emotional structures that can be superimposed over (and upon) concrete reality, whilst avoiding the trap of an inverted ‘idealism’ (which suggests physical matter congeals into concrete reality simply by force of thought). I would say that monasticism solves this problem by permanently uprooting the essence (asava) of ignorance that gives rise to greed, hatred and deluson,  This ‘stills’ and ‘purifies’ the mind in both systems, and removes the idea of inner daemons polluting the outer conditions of the external world. I also think this prevents the ‘attraction’ of daemons on the physical plane, which might be better described as ‘corrupt beings’. This would allow for your ‘things worse than daemons’ statement. The similarities between early Buddhism and early Christianity are far more astonishing than most realise. 

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