Drawing on idea from both neurological science and the spiritual concepts of Baha’u’llah, it is possible to define a new framework for the understanding of the phenomena of seeing and communicating with Ghosts, and experiencing memories of a person that has long deceased.
Neurologically, we know that the brain can project illusions, from within its own store of information, in such a manner as a person might ‘see’ or ‘hear’ an object or a person or a creature that is not a corporeal entity. This is most well-known through the hallucinations of a person suffering Schizophrenia, especially some of the rarer forms. Likewise, the dreamer finds both structured and chaotic story rambling through their night’s sleep. What is common about both the schizophrenic hallucination, the dreamer’s dream, and even the wakeful person’s impression of colour, shape, sense of self-body, etc, is that all object awareness relates to pre-coded qualia maps that seems to be the outcome of the common configuration of neural networks within the human brain. Small changes in mapping configuration can lead to synesthesia in which a person’s visual perception of numbers is overlaid with a perception of colour for every number or some other dual configuration. Synesthetes and Schizophrenic sufferers show that something that is not supposed to be there, is there. Interestingly, synesthetes are more likely found among artists; and the sensory overlapping abilities in most of us is related to our ability to develop complex language through the use of the overlap as a metaphor and then generations of reiterations giving more complex language.
This suggests that everything that we experience as ‘there’ is the result of a mapping of our sensory experience onto our mind / consciousness. However our sensory-perceptual processes can also use sensory memory and extrapolated metaphor to create new imaginary object. Thus, the schizophrenic will ‘see’ a monster in a coat, the sensitive person will ‘see’ a projection of a long dead person (a ghost), and the dreamer will ‘see vast vistas of meaning, sometimes with people they know, sometimes with people they do not.
But, you might ask, why not a real ghost, a remnant of the soul or spirit of a deceased person. Indeed, why not. But also, why, at all. For this idea relies upon a concept of a soul that exists in the world of the corporeal, is part of the physical, and is a photographic rendition of the corporeal. Indeed, where is such a photographic image except in the memory or imagination of the observer. Yet perhaps there is, within the idea that our sensory perceptual system can project a non-corporeal image into our mind to appear as a real object, an indication of what a real ghost might be.
Before I address this, let’s look at the issue of the experience of memories of a life from the past, which is often interpreted as evidence for reincarnation. Could it be that there is some mechanism by which our sensory perceptual system can conjecture a historical life in detail, without the person having detailed study of that life?
Let us presume that the life from the past being ‘remembered’, was a real person from the past.
Let us then only accept that the image of that person is a projection from our sensory perceptual system to our conscious mind.
If there was a process by which the sensory perceptual system was exactly stimulated by an external faculty that did have access to the lives of bygone people, then such stimulation would realise the exact image as if it were a memory. Likewise, if such stimulation also overlapped with a visual perceptual map for the external world, then that image would appear, not as a memory but as a thing in the world. If a person experiences the image as a memory it becomes interpreted as a reincarnation experience, but if as an external visual and auditory projection it will reinterpreted as a ghost.
In trying to understand what process might facilitate the delivery of stimulation directly to the sensory perceptual system, we can look at the teachings of Baha’u’llah about the soul. Baha’u’llah taught that “the soul of man is exalted above, and is independent of all infirmities of body or mind”; that, like the sun obscured by the clouds, its splendor appeareth to have diminished, when in reality the source of that light hath remained unchanged. He goes on to say that, “The soul of man should be likened unto this sun, and all things on earth should be regarded as his body. So long as no external impediment interveneth between them, the body will, in its entirety, continue to reflect the light of the soul, and to be sustained by its power.” He extends this view of the pure soul to one that, after death, “… is responsible for the progress of the world and the advancement of its peoples … like unto leaven which leaveneth the world of being, … (constituting) the animating force through which the arts and wonders of the world are made manifest. Through them the clouds rain their bounty upon men, and the earth bringeth forth its fruits. All things must needs have a cause, a motive power, an animating principle. These souls and symbols of detachment have provided, and will continue to provide, the supreme moving impulse in the world of being. The world beyond is as different from this world as this world is different from that of the child while still in the womb of its mother. When the soul attaineth the Presence of God, it will assume the form that best befitteth its immortality and is worthy of its celestial habitation.”
We might understand from this, that Baha’u’llah’s understanding of the soul is of an immortal entity, the primary entity of creation and existence, a fundamental influence on the human mind. Indeed, if the soul is an entity that is not effected by the damage to the human body or mind, then it would seem that Baha’u’llah is representing it as a conscious entity that is beyond the time-space fabric. In that case, information from across time would be accessible to the soul. And such information as accessible to the soul, might be conveyed to the mind. This, then, would be a process by which the mind might receive clear details of a past life as memory (reincarnation experience), details of a past life as visual and auditory projection (ghosts), and details of the future (prophecy). It might be noted here that there more be much more about the world beyond the time-space matrix that the soul has access. Even if the soul were to transmit such information, then only that information which can be translated as code to the qualia maps of the sensory-motor-perceptual system would impinge on our consciousness. Indeed, it may be that any information stimulating the neural net would appear to us in a common form, even if it were, in reality, most uncommon, most alien.
Baha’u’llah teaches that we must avoid becoming obsessed by the information that might come to us across space and time. This does not improve our awareness of the greater reality of the worlds of God or our souls, but might distract us from the task at hand, of purification of the mind for the best reflection of the light of the soul. Baha’u’llah, in many divers teachings, tells us, that this purification happens through prayer, service, practicing virtue, understanding and teaching his faith, and accepting the tests that come from the adventure through time and space that is created for our learning.