Home » Features » How To Explain, End And Prevent Mass Hysteria?

Individuals’ delusions
can lead to collective confusion.
Individuals’ clarifications
can lead to collective illuminations.

– Stonepeace | Books

Mass hysteria is sometimes the expression of collective obsessive behavior – due to group perceived threats, real or imaginary, often through highly suggestive rumours and subtle group pressure. Medically, mass hysteria is sometimes attributed to reactions of certain chemical effects in the bodies of a group under similar conditions. In terms of Buddhism, it might also be due to group possession by a group of similar unseen beings, which is a result of negative collective karma’s ripening. In short, each case of mass hysteria can be due to one, two or all of the above reasons. That said, less mysterious causes for mass hysteria can often explain how many cases arise.

Say, a student’s claim to see a spirit (whether real or not) is so highly disturbing yet convincing, that other students imagine they see it too. Next, if one imagines being wildly possessed, others around might imagine they too are possessed, creating a chaotic domino effect from class to class and even school to school. The energy of stress present can be due to pressure from over-discipline, exams and growing up, leading to a subconscious wish to behave outrageously and rebelliously, yet ‘blamelessly’, under the cover of possession. The mind can be so greatly fooled that it creates adrenaline rushes for great strength to arise. If there is real possession, such strength should be extendable, while conveying sensible messages too.

Mass hysteria can occur in religious settings too, though devotees there will not call it as so – such as congregations suggested to speak gibberish together, out of faith that some holy being can possess them together. They might express much emotions due to pent up pressure, but they do not even know the meaning of that they spew verbally, supposedly with messages from the deity believed in, conveniently said to be in a higher language unknown to mere humans. That uttered is actually made of inconsistently used words made up along the way to let off steam. Naturally, they feel relieved after much ‘shouting’ and ‘gesticulating’, which creates the illusion of ‘deepened’ peace.

Sincere Nianfo (practice of mindfulness of Amitabha Buddha’s name – ‘Amituofo’) will end hysteria, from disturbances internal and/or external. It is to connect one’s Buddha-nature to him – for calmness, clarity and protection to arise. In fact, those who practise Nianfo sincerely, diligently and regularly in everyday life will never experience any form of hysteria. They will only be ever more awakened from potential confusion. However, those who invoke weak or imaginary gods cannot help the mass-hysterical, because there is little or no actual power of blessing – unless the mass is not really possessed, with all in it being equally suggestible (which is seldom), that help has arrived.

We always have Buddha-nature,
while all defiled natures
that shroud it only rise and fall.

Stonepeace | Books

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