This is always a good conversation starter: Do you believe in ghosts? The answers vary from, “Nope. They don’t exist,” to “Yes, I’ve seen one!” What’s funny is to listen to the conversation, always inserting just enough input to keep it going, and realize how many different ideas there are of what a “ghost” is. As you sit there reading this, ask yourself that question. Before trying to decide whether or not you believe in “ghosts,” ask yourself what a ghost is because you have to know that to know whether or not you believe in them.
dictionary.com defines “ghost” as: the soul of a dead person or a disembodied spirit. Hmm… I’m pretty sure I believe in those – if for no other reason than I want to believe in my own. Yes… before you raise your eyebrows and think I’m insane for wanting to believe in my own ghost (since I can’t have one because I’m still alive, right?) I want you to think about that definition for a moment.
Do you have a soul?
Do you have a spirit?
Most of us believe we have one or the other although it’s probably just different names for the same thing. We don’t like to think about it being disembodied from us because most of us believe that only happens when we die. That is to say, when our physical body dies.
No matter what you believe the genesis of your soul is: whether it’s created new when you’re born or previously existed, came to you when you were born, grows with you and then passes from you when you die… most of us believe in that ethereal abstract energy that “is the real me,” and that is released from our body when it dies. My question is: if you believe in your own soul, and you believe it leaves your body when you die, then how can you not believe in ghosts? Wouldn’t they just be the souls of others?
Our challenge with such a concept usually comes in when someone says, “Yeah, but when you die your soul goes to heaven or hell; it doesn’t wander around haunting people.” I would make a few observations about that.
- That’s only a common believe in the Judaeo/Christian ethos. Other religious faiths believe in reincarnation, a transfer of positive/negative energy (depending on the quality of your soul) and other after-this-realm-of-existence options.
- Any soul only haunts people if they feel haunted. All too often, thanks to Hollywood, the idea of a “haunted” location or a person being haunted by a ghost, is a scary or negative experience. But it doesn’t have to be that way and, indeed, there are plenty of people who report experiences with “ghosts” who felt that it was a pleasant and enlightening experience.
Somewhere along in the conversation, at about this point, someone will bring up the idea of astral projection: where a person can be separated from their soul/spirit and that soul/spirit travels somewhere else to see or do something and then comes back to the body it “belongs to.” If that CAN happen (and plenty of people believe that it does), then wouldn’t that “projected” soul/spirit be perceived by others as a ghost?
More conversation will follow and eventually someone will say, “I don’t care what you say. I don’t believe in ghosts.” Well, that’s your prerogative. It’s not for anyone to say you’re right or wrong. Let me change the topic to future medical science:
Do you believe that one day… some day… medical science will evolve to the point where we can transfer your consciousness into another body? What if that body is artificial or the process requires an entire brain transplant? SOME day? Most people will say yes; they think that can happen someday.
A movie called “Ghost in the Shell,” was made and revolved around that topic. A young woman dies and her consciousness is transferred into a synthetic body. The body, being synthetic, is stronger and more resilient than these simple fragile human things we’re all so used to. Given the movie title and the plot of the movie, it’s obvious that the writers use “ghost” and “consciousness” synonymously. Interestingly, some of the same people who say that there’s no such thing as “ghosts” will insist that when such medical technology comes available, it’s not the spirit or soul that’s being transferred; only the consciousness… but they can’t articulate a difference.
So, the question remains but will be asked differently: Do you believe in YOUR OWN ghost?