Epiphany {new age/spirituality}

Do you believe in ghosts?

June 26, 2006

Hell no, I hear the cynics amongst you cry. Although, I haven’t actually seen a ghost ‘in the flesh’ myself, a reliable friend of mine has, and no, he wasn’t stoned or drunk at the time. Well, he can’t have been every time as there have been several instances, too many to disregard as a figment of his imagination. A malevolent force seems to follow him around. I believe this is known as a poltergeist, when the entity is focused on a person rather than a house or building. Both he and his family have also openly talked about their home being haunted. Apparently, the spirit is often quiet around strangers due to shyness but makes an appauling noise at other times. They almost seem to accept it as a member of the family, constantly shouting at it to ‘shut up.’ Needless to say: I have never felt the urge to sleepover.

One of the worst / surreal experiences that he has had, happened during art college. We were all living in halls and his girlfriend’s room was diagonally across the corridor from mine. One night, whilst sleeping together in her room, they both woke up at exactly the same moment, after suffering dreadful nightmares and both had an unsettling feeling that there was something disturbing in the room. They were so frightened that they ran downstairs to his bedroom, switched on the light which immediately blew. And then saw a dark figure eerily move across the corridor. In the morning, everyone was quite freaked out by their explanation of the previous night’s events, particularly myself because I also remembered having a nightmare, in which a voice had said to me, “You know your room is haunted, don’t you?”

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  1. “I’m open minded about these things. I know a few people who have seen things – some scary, some not. My dad’s bedroom as a child apparently had some very odd noises and he rationalised it in his (childlike) mind as being some kind of radio in order to cope with this bizarre occurence. Apparently he had to give up his bed for his Uncle one night who then woke up with the slightly scary experience of feeling hands around his neck, trying to choke him…don’t think my dad had to ever give up his bed again after that.

    I also remember staying at a house in the Lake District as a kid that had apparently always had poltergeist activity. There was one room that was the focus of that activity and this was an office. Of course we couldn’t resist having a good look about in it – all was OK, it was neat, but we went back the next day and it was like a battering ram had been through it, everything was piled up against one wall – desk, chairs, papers, books – the lot. Think we left that day funnily enough!

    My business partner is an uber sceptic who doesn’t believe in ghosts but saw a hooded figure disappear in front of him when he was younger, he puts this down to ‘imagination or hallucination’, but that seems a bit odd to me. He won’t have the fact it was a ghost though…”

    Zoe Rusforth
    http://www.luminatedesign.co.uk

  2. “Many years ago, GNM Tyrrell, author of the classic study “Apparitions”, suggested that this question is very ambiguous; a better question would be:
    “Do you believe that people sometimes experience apparitions?” The answer to this question -at least for me – is clearly “yes” – there are many authoritative studies in support.

    On the other hand, I would be less sure about the answer to the question:
    “Do you believe that dead people walk about the Earth sometimes in their next-world bodies?”

    Parapsychologists generally consider that there is more than one kind of “ghost”. Professor Arthur Ellison, in his excellent book “The Reality of the Paranormal”, suggests five types of apparition:

    Hauntings – persistent cases recurring over a long period of time. These are usually considered to be a kind of recording rather than a surviving spirit.

    Crisis cases – experienced when the person seen is near death or suffering some other crisis – explainable by telepathy.

    Post mortem cases – the apparition is seen after the person has died. Information may be imparted.

    Experimental cases – where a living person deliberately tries to make his apparition visible to another. (There are numerous recorded examples of apparitions of the living.)

    Suggestion-type cases – people see what they expect to see! Many reported cases are proved to be normal objects or phenomena which have been misinterpreted.

    Poltergeists, by the way, are generally regarded as something completely different. They often centre around a particular person and are usually explained as extreme cases of psychokinesis – mind over matter – exercised unconsciously.

    I bet that doesn’t help at all!”

    Barry Cooper
    http://www.magicofthemind.co.uk

  3. “I’ve been called to a couple of “poltergeist” cases and they could both be explained by psychokiesis. Although I didn’t manage to persuade the people involved in the incidents, that was clearly what was going on. I’m trained as a spiritualist medium so am also used to the “experimental” version in a development circle or demonstration I sometimes “see” a version of somebodys spiritual body- for want of a berrer word. If consciousness continues after the death of the physical body then this would be quite normal, in my view.

    Mental mediumship relys on a consciousness communicating telepathically to the medium – whether that consciousness has a physical body or not isn’t relevant to the communication.. ”

    Dennis Barker

  4. “Hello, I’m your freindly representative from Summon-a-Cynic and I have some questions.

    Barry wrote:

    “Crisis cases – experienced when the person seen is near death or suffering some other crisis – explainable by telepathy.”

    Dont we need to explain Telepathy or at least record its existence beyond reasonable doubt before evoking it as an explaination? And when i talk about resonable doubt i mean hard, non-anecdotal evidence of information passing from one mind to another without any possibility of fraud, and also the repetition of the experiment by an independant group. While there are people like Derren Brown in the world who are able to perform “psychic” stunts of magnificent intricacy without ever claiming to exploit the supernatural. The evidence will have to be ever so convincing.

    “The answer to this question -at least for me – is clearly “yes” – there are many authoritative studies in support.”

    Can you provide links to some of these studies? I presume they are on the internet somewhere?

    Dennis wrote:

    “I’ve been called to a couple of “poltergeist” cases and they could both be explained by psychokiesis. Although I didn’t manage to persuade the people involved in the incidents, that was clearly what was going on.”

    This is sort of the same question I asked Barry, have we proved psychokinesis beyond reasonable doubt? If so why haven’t the natural sciences had a revolution? Could we be looking at possible Quantum explainations for this? I’m afraid i’m not very well versed in quantum theory, and there is a popular anecdote that says no-one actually understands it! Tis the cutting edge! But while the underlying principles are a mystery to us i find it hard to see how this could be citied as a “clear” explaination. There is alot of personal assumption at play.

    “If consciousness continues after the death of the physical body then this would be quite normal, in my view.”

    From what I understand of consciousness studies, which is more that the average layman but no where near an autoritative stand point- basically i’ve read alot of pop sci on the subject, Consciouness requires a complex and delicate array of neurons and synapses working in a particular way, that is very easily affected by tiny external factors such as drugs and alcohol or through physical factors like brain damage or neuro-surgery. How could it survive death, when this vital balanced system decays and disperses?

    “Mental mediumship relys on a consciousness communicating telepathically to the medium – whether that consciousness has a physical body or not isn’t relevant to the communication.”

    Considering my reply above and the physical requirements of conciousness how can it exist without a brain? The evidence is against this being possible.

    *Takes flight on his evil cynical wings and returns to his circling (aka work!)*

    P.S. Cynicism is not a bad thing if it can stop people being mislead intentionally or accidentally and I prefer the term empiricism!”

    Martin Coote

  5. “”Can you provide links to some of these studies? I presume they are on the internet somewhere?”

    As a matter of fact, I wouldn’t presume that, because the ones I had in mind are published in books rather than online. The best single book I’ve come across which is specifically on ghosts (as opposed to ESP, mediumship or survival) is “Apparitions” by Celia Green and Charles McCreery (Institute of Psychophysical Research, Oxford, 1975).

    If you want to do some online reading, however, there’s a vast library at the International Survivalist Society ; you can subscribe to a weekly newsletter, which gives a brief synopsis of the weeks’ main article and media links. The articles are mostly extracts from classic texts. I’ve just done a search for “apparitions” on the site and found the whole of a 1961 book by WH Salter, a very well known name in psychical research circles.”

    Barry Cooper

  6. “Thanks Barry, certainly lots of material to get my teeth into there!

    My initial thoughts: I’d be intrigued to see how the older books stand up in the light of recent research, certainly psychology has changed a great deal during the last thirty years, and in no small part due to the discoveries of neuro-science.

    I dont like being seen as a dowdy cynic and i find it lamentable that the rational and skeptical school of thought is so maligned in the public eye, hence comments about the cynics circling! I’d like to say I dont subscribe to any worldview wholeheartedly and that I try to come to things with an open mind, but i think from personal reflection this is not true. I do need alot of convincing before I accept something which is why i’m keen to challenge quick and big assumptions about our existence. I once had a open mind and found it quickly became full of some very dubious ideas, only when i learnt to have a healthy analytical rigour to what i let in, did i actually start getting somewhere with my attempts to understand the universe. And it is through this process that i have accepted that there are some things we will never fully understand, but what we can understand must be allowed to take precident. It is surprising how much science has to say about the deep personal bits of the self we take for granted.

    I remain an empiricist and am perfectly happy with the meaningless universe in which we seem to exist. Even if we and our consciousnesses are merely temporary arrangements within the whole and shall dissipate like a unique snowflake inevitably does. I think the delicate nature of life makes it all the more important to use the limited time to the fullest, rather than hoping for a better time afterwards.”

    Martin Coote

  7. “Sorry about the flippant cynics circling remark Martin. I actually agree a lot with what you are saying, but also think that science might not be able to explain everything – it might be that it will in time, so in the interim I don’t really have a view either way. The likelihood is that these things will have a scientific explanation at some point and we’ll see right through these ghost stories for good. We still have a lot to learn, not everything has been answered yet – which is great, because a bit of mystery is always entertaining!

    I think my view has been coloured by my business partner who refuses to think anything outside the rational and scientific can ever be true. It drives me mad as there is no way that our stage of science has the definitive answers to everything. Knowledge is progressive and what we think we know today might be incredibly different given a hundred more years of research and study – henced my undecided status, after all the Victorians thought they knew everything too”

    Zoe Rushforth

  8. “”I think my view has been coloured by my business partner who refuses to think anything outside the rational and scientific can ever be true. It drives me mad as there is no way that our stage of science has the definitive answers to everything. Knowledge is progressive and what we think we know today might be incredibly different given a hundred more years of research and study – henced my undecided status, after all the Victorians thought they knew everything too wink”

    I think i’m alot like bits of both you and your work mate.

    I also know that we will never know everything, which is why i am absolutely rabid about knowing what we can know properly! Because i have come to science through evolution i am aware of the way cultures change and how limited the idea that were at some kind of pinnicle is childish. Spiral dynamics is great becuase it maps out various stages we have been through and then fades out at the top representing stages yet to come which we can concieve of.

    I think alot of superstition stems from a fear of saying “I Dont Know” and compensates for this uncertainy by inventing rules which have little or no basis in reality.

    This is why i like Zen because great spiritual leaders and icons that we should struggle to be like spend ninety years meditating then say “What is the meaning of existence? I dont know!” How cool is that?

    “Science can never explain everything but if you want to explain anything the first port of call should be science” Thats my soundbite for the day!”

    Martin Coote

  9. “This is why i like Zen because great spiritual leaders and icons that we should struggle to be like spend ninety years meditating then say “What is the meaning of existence? I dont know!” How cool is that?”

    A friend of mine said something similar recently, “It brought to mind that bit in the film Whistle down the wind when the little lad and his sister are sitting in the cafe and they ask the vicar a very direct question about god or something- can’t quite remember. The vicar makes a feeble attempt to baffle the lad with a reply which is either very vague or completely over his head. When he’s gone the little lad turns to his sister and says – ‘He dunt know, does he? ” – its priceless.

  10. “What an ace exchange! Who ever thought Buddha and Whistle down the Wind would come under the same category! I love the way mainstream culture comes up with hese profundities, my signiature on some other forums comes from Angel, Buffy’s-ex;

    “If nothing we do matters, all that matters is what we do.”

    Martin Coote

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