Monday, June 10, 2013

Ghosts -- Just because they aren't real, does that mean they don't exist?

In the past week, I watched two shows regarding ghosts. One was the movie, “The Awakening” and the other was the hit musical, “Next to Normal.” “The Awakening” was a horror film about a skeptic who disproved the existence of spirits, though deep down inside, she wanted them to exist. In the movie she said, “We all want ghosts to be real but that doesn’t mean they are.” “Next to Normal” never made any reference to ghosts. It was about a family dealing with a Mother who suffered from psychotic delusions. She believed her son who had been dead for years, was still alive. 

Ghost stories could fall into three categories, horror, paranormal drama or realistic drama. People who love horror get off on being frightened out of their wits by malicious ghosts who have the ability to terrify them to death. Lovers of paranormal drama fall in love with ghosts, want them to be real, and are touched when the dead are reunited with their loved ones. Realistic stories such as “Next to Normal” may never mention ghosts. The ghosts are memories or hallucinations. In “Next to Normal,” a family is torn apart by a ghost they know is not real and the mother goes through a series of horrible psychiatric treatments to help her get rid of her delusions.

Btw, I love ghost stories of every kind. I feel there is always something deep and archetypal about every type of ghost. They appeal to our own wishes and dreams much like vampires do. I think it is because we truly want ghosts to be real. I can’t think of how many times my door opened on its own. I realize it was just a draft but deep down inside, I was wishing it was the spirit of my long dead Grandfather watching over me. We want to believe that there is a connection to our souls that transcends death. Also, if ghosts are real, it would mean that we aren’t alone, even during our darkest days. They are our imaginary friends.

Harry Houdini, the greatest magician that ever lived, made it his life’s mission to expose mediums to be frauds. However, his initial intent was to contact his dead mother. He offered large amounts of money to find a medium that was real, but he proved them to be frauds each time. Here we have an example of someone who knows too much about magic tricks to be fooled. However, if someone did turn out to be the real thing, he was willing to offer them large sums of money. Deep down inside, he was looking for the genuine article. He never found him or her.

Until modern times, almost every society that ever existed; from ancient pagan cultures, to native tribal cultures, to Christian religions, believed in an afterlife. Coincidentally, most cultures attribute the start of winter or the end of fall as a time for the spirits to visit the living or to move on to the afterlife. I always find it fascinating that my Pagan, Christian and Native American friends celebrate a day where they give reverence to the dead all around the same time. In American culture, children dress up in costumes and haunt other people’s houses. They get candy in exchange for not playing tricks on the members of the household. Are we training our children to become mafia leaders when they grow up? Just kidding, I digress. While Halloween is a commercialized version of all these holidays, the truth is we all seem to need one day or more to pay homage the paranormal.

So the question that arises in my creative, rambling mind is: Just because ghosts aren’t real, does that mean they don’t exist? In the musical I just watched, “Next to Normal,” a ghost that didn’t exist was able to cause trauma to a family. If he wasn’t real, how did he manage to do this? To the writer of the musical, he was very real. He even cast an actor to play him. He wasn’t just a delusion; he was a metaphor. He didn’t just haunt the psychotic woman. In the end, we see how he haunted everybody. Yet, it was very clear that he wasn’t real. At some point in the musical, the mother complained that taking the delusion out of her head didn’t work because it wasn’t in her mind.  It was in her soul. Who can blame a grieving mother for harboring a ghost of a child she loves in the deepest parts of her spirit?

In Buddhism, no one really dies. We all share the same energy. Buddhists learn to accept death as an inevitable cycle, but there is no need to let go because nothing ever leaves and nothing ever dies. Death itself is an illusion. So if death doesn’t exist, is it real?

When I went on the Ghost Tours during my visit to New Orleans, I learned that ghosts are a powerful energy of something traumatic left behind. The haunted areas were more like historical landmarks where very bad things happened. Something still existed, a horrible memory that refused to die.

To those of us who write fiction, we create ghosts. We use them as metaphors. They remind us of people we loved. They help us let go or deal with the unknown. Malicious ghosts represent what we abhor or can’t face. We use them as archetypes and create myths and legends around them. They help us explain concepts that can only be understood through the use of stories. We shape them out of thin air even though they aren’t real. Yet, in the worlds we create, they exist. 


  1. Ghosts are real They are DEV - People of Heaven - according to Jainology. CMA Naresh Motta. Borivli. Mumbai. India

  2. Hello Naresh,
    Thank you for commenting? What is Jainology? My perspective is from being an artist and writer of fiction. I'd love to hear about your perspective and culture. Do you set aside a day of the year to pay homage to ghosts or people who pass away?

  3. mom used to tell lots of bleak, empty, vivid ghost stories when i was a kid. eventually turned out she really believed in them. schizophrenia, dong :P

    anyway, facing that kind of stuff as if they were.. facts of life .. was somewhat scary. time eventually blurred that. yet, one night, some years later, while in college (and on pot) i remember to be w/ gf and notice, and hide from .. what we then called a "wave of evil".

    well, probably just reflections, cars in the street, lol.

  4. Lol, JSP!
    You would have loved the musical "Next to Normal."
    Either that, or you would hate it because it is to much like your real life. ;)
    Thanks for commenting.

  5. well, guess i'll have to check it out now..

  6. checked it. meh. but i get your point.

    hm, about your post from june 8th, do you know


    1. Lol, JSP, I was going to say that you would only like it if you are into the modern musical's tendency to sing about every psychological angst they can.
      Great website. Cool website. Society needs some reality cracking.
      Maybe you can write something about code words. Wrote a blog about it here:

      My other blog about reality checking:

      Since my latest book is about the dangers of following cults, reality checking seems to be a great theme and your site is an important addition. Great stuff, JSP!

    2. F's "search lores" isn't mine. And anyway, the old cracker is dead... what a pitty. My personal take in reality cracking is more practical. Enough theory already. And it's so easy to be misunderstood.


    What is the meaning of calling on the name of the Lord? Many assume that believing in Jesus and saying a form of a sinner's prayer constitutes, calling on the name of the Lord. The problem with that theory is none of the conversions under the New Covenant support that assumption. Not one time is anyone ever told to believe and say the sinner's prayer in order to be saved.

    The apostle Peter on the Day of Pentecost quoted the prophet Joel, Acts 2:21 And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved." (NKJV)

    The apostle Peter preached the first gospel sermon under the New Covenant. Peter did not tell the 3000 converts to believe and say the sinner's prayer.

    Peter preached the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. He preached Jesus as both Lord and Christ. When they heard this they asked Peter and the rest of the brethren what they should do?(Acts 2:22-37) Peter told them what to do. Acts 2:38 Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.(NKJV)

    How did the 3000 on the Day of Pentecost call on the name of the Lord and become saved?
    1. They believed that Jesus was both Lord and Christ.
    2. They believed that God raised Jesus from the grave.
    3. They repented. Repentance is a change of heart. Repentance means to be converted so that God may forgive your sins. Repentance is to make the intellectual commitment to turn from sin and turn toward God. (Acts 3:19, Acts 2:38)
    4. They were immersed in water (baptized) so that their sins could be forgiven.

    How did the 3000 on the Day of Pentecost not call on the name of the Lord?
    1. They did not say a sinner's prayer.
    2. Not one person was asked to pray for forgiveness.
    3. Not one single man was told to be baptized as a testimony of his faith.
    4. No one was told that water baptism was a just an act of obedience.
    5. No one was informed they were saved the very minute they believed.
    6. Not one person was told that water baptism was not essential for the forgiveness of sins.
    7. Not one person was told to be baptized so they could join a denominational church.

    Jesus said he that believes and is baptized shall be saved. (Mark 16"16) Jesus did not say he who believes and says a sinner's prayer shall be saved.

    YOU ARE INVITED TO READ MY BLOG POSTINGS ___Steve Finnell-a christian view
    Posted by Steve Finnell at 9:07 AM No comments:

  8. Thanks for stopping by Steve. The computer I am on right now is not letting me check out your website but I will try again later.

  9. Awesome as always my friend, what a great read. I totally believe in ghosts, there's no doubt about that.