Are ghosts everywhere?
When I was a kid, Halloween sent us out swinging jack-o-lanterns at our sides. Our paper bags begged for candy. We knew ghosts were make-believe. Casper the Friendly Ghost or the scarier spooks of Rod Serling. Now, grown up and then some, I see we were wrong.
Estimated reading time: 8 minutes
By David Stone
Sound waves and photons flow by the billions into our brains every second. They blended with other invisibles, creating the motion picture we call “reality.” Really, the world is not out there; it’s in here, between your ears. Science knows this, but it’s not easy convincing us.
The irony of ghosts is that, if they are only what people believed for millennia — that is, spirits of dead people and animals — we’d never know about them.
Our senses can’t see, feel, hear or smell anything that isn’t physical, and once you’re dead, you’re not physical anymore. No one disputes that.
How we make reality out of real things…
It’s all personal.
Related: What happens when we die?
Our brains make order out of a tidal wave of sensory perceptions, ignoring most of the deluge, making much out of little. Mental templates, inherited as well as learned, aid the process.
Suggestions mushroom into complete things.
As one result, a gazillion somethings go unnoticed. Evolution’s a minimalist undertaking.
For one thing, you should not be able to see a ghost, and yet, like many thousands of others, I did.
A Ghost for Dinner
My ghost was independently verified by someone with an even better view. She saw more, colors, enough to identify the visitor whizzing by, although all I caught was something between shadow and real.
We looked up.
“Did you see that?” I said.
Yes, she did.
Is there some crossover zone between physical and not physical where specters pop in and out of reality in an action we know nothing about? Do they force their way into reality?
It happens. People see ghosts all the time, and the shame is that self-doubt or fear of ridicule forces them into silence.
Ghosts Anywhere or Everywhere
When you try to verify whatever information is out there about ghosts, scientists scramble to defend their beliefs.
Science is faith-based. The prevailing belief is that nothing that can’t be proved — and proved again — is true, and that makes it safe to dismiss claims for no mechanism exists for testing. That’s a belief, nothing more, and a tenuous one at that.
Scientism maintains that everything real in our universe can be observed and/or measured by instruments. Otherwise, it doesn’t exist. And if you disagree, you’re a loon hooked on woo-woo. Close-mindedness rules.
You have to shake your head at the unscientific behavior of scientists. Denial of alternatives is the knee-jerk tool of vulnerable belief systems.
If it’s strange accepting that spirits live on after physical death — just as they did before, it’s even stranger assuming that they don’t.
Look at it this way: Is your life a terminal case so trivial it amounts to no more than the muscle and bone carting it around?
When that body goes, all the thought, emotion, wisdom, memory and connection to others, all the nonphysical attributes, vaporizes?
That’s a stretch, and it doesn’t make sense.
Don’t we all sense there’s more to us than arms and legs carting around a mindful pumpkin on top? Why do we feel that, if there is no truth or insight in it?
Are we born delusional about our basic nature? What kind of evolution would conjure up something like that?
Are there ghosts everywhere but we just don’t see them? The possibility gets stronger.
Proof In the Spooky Pudding
You can’t read a mainstream article about ghosts without running into: “There is no conclusive proof.” Or something similar.
It’s true but far from a slam dunk. There really is a lot of evidence.
But if the standard is that we must see, feel, hear or touch anything for it to be accepted as real, you can throw love, hate and fear out the window, too.
We’ve never seen any one of them, but know and accept them, just the same.
There’s no proof for some of our most cherished, accepted beliefs. Disbelief in ghosts — or spirits — is a strange anomaly.
Are skeptics afraid of ghosts or truths implied by them?
Things We Accept with Less Proof
Let’s take an easy example. Nearly everyone believes in a world of things “out there.” People, trees, light bulbs and Bubba Gump fill it up.
But that otherness, the something outside us, has never been proven. In fact, countless experiments say it isn’t so. Nothing exists as a real thing until it settles between our ears. It’s strange, but that’s where the best evidence now takes us.
Everything we know about reality comes to us through our senses. Our brains use about 5%, chuck away the rest and paint a picture we think is It, all of it, the real thing.
It ain’t out there until you push it out there with your thoughts.
You could be dreaming the whole damn thing. We know we can because when we sleep, we invent a reality out of nothing, snore by snore.
The only difference with the waking version may be inherited templates helping assemble similar realities and/or a shared consciousness that keeps us rowing this boat together.
We embrace the created reality we make. It suits us.
The Color of Ghosts All Around Us
One more example, just for fun…
But physicists tell us “something” isn’t really the right word. More potential than actual, whatever it is springs into something only when observed.
Something is out there, of course, but it’s colorless, odorless and invisible.
For you and me, that means seeing, feeling, touching, smelling or tasting it. And, yes, your cat gets in on the act.
That blue, the scent of a rose — your brain makes it up to distinguish one thing from the other. Those qualities don’t belong to some external forest of things already defined and ready to label. We put on all the labels and give them value.
Colors are what our eyes, optic nerve and internal brain make out of billions of photons caught in our web of awareness.
And you should already know that there’s a vast range of colors, ultraviolet, for example. and sounds, like those used for dog whistles, our brains can’t do anything with.
Our limited processing abilities leave us blind and deaf to most potential realities.
Our senses are unable to catch most color ranges and sounds, though they are just as real as the ones we do see and hear.
We throw all that away, but it doesn’t lessen possible realities. They just aren’t available to us.
But they might be to your cat. Or dog. Or an aardvark.
We can’t experience them directly, but they are as real as the ones we do.
Blame It On Evolution
Our senses never evolved to take in more because, most likely, it wasn’t worth the effort, economically speaking.
Why waste developmental energy for so little return? All we really need is enough awareness to keep from walking into trees while wandering around in search of nutrients.
There’s plenty we can’t prove. We can’t even prove that you and I see blue the same way in our minds’ eyes or even that music is the same for each of us.
We take it for granted. There’s no choice. But reality is intensely individual.
Like ghosts. It’s possible that you can’t see them unless you believe in them or have some special sensory gift.
One thing that always gives me chills is the story of Michael Newton’s epiphany on his way to the discovery of what he calls “life between lives” or LBLs.
Before his retirement, Newton worked as a therapist using hypnotism and past life regressions to look for the roots of his patients’ emotional troubles.
A patient came to Newton for therapy over the agony of extreme loneliness.
Under hypnosis, she was regressed through several prior existences in search of the cause of feeling so disconnected from people for whom she cared but could not identify.
Then, suddenly, still under hypnosis, she brightened.
Ghosts Are Everywhere: The Pudding
“There they are,” she told Newton, pointing to a corner of the room.
Newton saw nothing, but she described a crowd of familiar souls who came to greet her.
What past life was she in, right now? Newton asked.
But she wasn’t in one at all. She was in a different space, one more fundamental, it turned out, between lives.
Neither extreme nor strange, ghosts are with us all the time, the core element of who and what we are. We are all, each of us, in part, ghosts.
That’s what we get from thousands of recorded stories collected by Newton and his followers.
Intriguing, but it doesn’t explain everything.
We still don’t know why ghosts are believed to haunt specific places that have reputations for reported sightings.
Life between lives does not explain why we sometimes see spectral presences when it shouldn’t be possible.
But what it does is offer convincing evidence that a belief in ghosts does not amount to the kind of mental infirmity scientists suggest.
It tells us we’ll learn more as we look further.
It may be that all the evidence collected by Newton and his followers can be debunked and discarded as some sort of mass hysteria. I’m inclined to doubt it though.
After all, I had my own, verified sighting, didn’t I?
Halloween may flourish because, somewhere inside ourselves, we know something is true about the legends.
When you think about it, isn’t it pretty unlikely that we made it all up out of nothing?
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