Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Mind of a Devil--the Oni

The Mind of a Devil

As an oni can shape-shift, why do they appear in a horrid form? The answer is that they are evil by nature. They are cannibals, and enjoy human flesh cooked or raw. Onis were once human, at least some of them. These humans may become onis because of something horrible that has happened. The oni can be a monster deserving pity, because it is quite often the cruelty of humans that has caused the transformation to this form as a devil. For example, in Fox Sorcery II, a young woman’s father makes up an elaborate ruse to make her believe that her lover had died. He does this because he doesn’t think the lover is her equal socially. This causes her intense grief. Women in particular are thought to be given to jealousy and shame. Japanese people were taught to avoid emotions such as anguish, longing, frustration, anger, or resentment, because these strong sentiments can cause one to wander in the world after death. The Buddhist idea of samsara, an Indian philosophical concept literally meaning to wander, is expressed in the concept of a ghost wandering ceaselessly in search of closure. While samsara referred to transmigration, even Indians understood the state of being a ghost as one of the possible bodies one might have to endure.
To avoid this cursed existence, one should avoid situations that might cause one to become distraught. As a devil, an oni is capable of violence, but at the same time, it is a soul aching with some sort of unimaginable pain. Only such anguish can cause a human to take such a form. This is the reason that onis are so often represented in Japanese stories as having human frailties and very human grief or anger. In Shinto this malevolent quality, aramitama, arises when a human or kami feels insulted or wronged. The oni is ensnared in the world of humans, being unable to move on to another body or to the realm of the ancestors, because of a strong emotion such as grief or rejection. The oni is a liminal creature—a part of the world, yet not of the world.
If one were haunted or possessed by an oni, there were specialists who could deal with the problem. The Onmyoji was a ying-yang magician skilled in exorcism. One might also approach a Buddhist monk for help. I will explain how they exorcised demons, devils and other spirits in my next entries.
See my book:
Oni Devils at devinedestinies.com/oni-devils/ 

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