Some students of religion entertain the erroneous notion that saints completely vanquish their demons, expelling them into the pit of hell. Yet, in reality, the demons never leave. The spiritual aspirant’s skill in dealing with them simply improves over time. And the demons’ presence is actually a good thing, pressing humility.

Anger and aggression are simply vital energies that, when harnessed, move mountains. Grief, when harnessed, champions empathy and understanding. Fear, when harnessed, leads to heightened awareness. Conversely, the business man with unbounded vital energy who whips through the inbox and spanks the to-do-list, usually has to give careful attention to anger management. The sensational actress, who bathes in public affection, must watch her own destructive pleasure-seeking tendencies, which spiral into binge drinking and recreational drug use. The brilliant professor who unlocks the secrets of the brain’s bio-chemistry must come to grips with chronic paranoia about his research getting stolen.

Every gift has both advantages and liabilities. And liabilities can’t be eliminated completely. Even Saint Paul had a “thorn in the flesh” that didn’t go away (2 Corinthians 12:7). In other words, some dog breeds are prone to biting. The solution isn’t to kill the dog. It’s to get a leash and a muzzle.

The solution isn’t to vanquish demons, but to harness and temper them.