I keep hearing about "entities" and people being possessed by entities. What exactly IS an entity, how do people get possessed, and how can they rid themselves of them?
Yogananda spoke of “entities” and explained that term as being what people usually refer to as ghosts. He also carefully explained what they are and where they come from.
At the time of death, the soul, being no longer encased in a physical body, still has an astral body which is made of energy and light.
In most cases the astral body departs the material plane and goes to inhabit the astral world until it is time for it to re-incarnate in a new physical body.
However, sometimes a person becomes confused as to where he or she is supposed to go after death. This is generally due to deep attachment to a place or a person. Or it can be just a general confusion, vagueness, or un-groundedness, or wanting to cling to the more familiar physical world.
Sometimes an entity is motivated by evil desires. In the most extreme cases, these sorts of entities can enter the body of a weak-minded person and control them (drunkards or drug addicts would be examples of weak-minded people). This is generally what is known as “possession.”
All these things may sound a little far-fetched or like something out of a frightening, fictional novel or movie. But the great masters say that this is a reality.
However, it is important to add that if we are spiritual seekers, meditating, serving, and doing the very best we can to live in God’s light, there is nothing to fear from these sorts of entities.
If possession by an evil, astral entity has happened, then that person, or someone on acting on his or her behalf, needs to seek help from a person with spiritual power, such as a minister or a priest. Prayer helps too.
A very good book on this subject is How to Be a True Channel by Swami Kriyananda.