Ghosts explained

In this post, Sri Aurobindo discusses the varied phenomena which go under the term “ghosts”.  The material comes from a letter written to a disciple.

What do you mean by a ghost? The word “ghost” as used in popular parlance covers an enormous number of distinct phenomena which have no necessary connection with each other. To name a few only:

  1. An actual contact with the soul of a human being in its subtle body and transcribed to our mind by the appearance of an image or the hearing of a voice.
  2. A mental formation stamped by the thoughts and feelings of a departed human being on the atmosphere of a place or locality, wandering about there or repeating itself, till that formation either exhausts itself or is dissolved by one means or another. This is the explanation of such phenomena as the haunted house in which the scenes attending or surrounding or preceding a murder are repeated over and over again and many other similar phenomena.
  3. A being of the lower vital planes who has assumed the discarded vital sheath of a departed human being or a fragment of his vital personality and appears and acts in the form and perhaps with the surface thoughts and memories of that person.
  4. A being of the lower vital plane who by the medium of a living human being or by some other means or agency is able to materialise itself sufficiently so as to appear and act in a visible form or speak with an audible voice or, without so appearing, to move about material things, e.g., furniture or to materialise objects or to shift them from place to place. This accounts for what are called poltergeists, phenomena of stone-throwing, tree-inhabiting Bhutas, and other well-known phenomena.
  5. Apparitions which are the formations of one’s own mind and take to the senses an objective appearance.
  6. Temporary possession of people by vital beings who sometimes pretend to be departed relatives etc.
  7. Thought-images of themselves projected, often by people at the moment of death, which appear at that time or a few hours afterwards to their friends or relatives.

You will see that in only one of these cases, the first, can a soul be posited and there no difficulty arises.

Sri Aurobindo, Letters on Yoga – I: Rebirth


14 thoughts on “Ghosts explained

  1. Pingback: A nobler pragmatism « Skylight

  2. Pingback: Physical marks appearing after injuries sustained in dreams | Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo & The Mother

  3. Pingback: On suicide, euthanasia, and capital punishment | Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo & The Mother

  4. Pingback: On death, burials, cremations, funerals and resurrection | Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo & The Mother

  5. Pingback: Does Nature revolt against machinery? | Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo & The Mother

  6. Pingback: Why do we feel afraid and how to overcome it | Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo & The Mother

  7. Pingback: On spirit possession and mental imbalances | Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo & The Mother

  8. Pingback: Isaac Newton, mind-reading and the scholar-gypsy | Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo & The Mother

  9. Pingback: On luck, superstitions, folk tales and miracles | Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo & The Mother

    1. Sandeep Post author

      Mike: Seems to be quite a big story for some reason. Wonder why that is ??

      Probably because it seems like a nice trick.

  10. mike

    l wonder how many apparitions are down to people exteriorising themselves unconsciously when they sleep etc… l’ve read of quite a few ppl appearing to friends and relatives while they’re still alive, but just sleeping at a distance. l think there must be a lot of that going on. Some healers claim to project themselves in this way, in absent healing…

  11. Sandeep Post author

    3 September 1926 (Evening)

    (X raised the topic of table-tapping. Sri Aurobindo said that generally no spirit comes from the outside. The will of the medium and the men participating creates a force which makes those manifestations. The answers are from the minds of the men — they may come from the subconscious mind or from the subliminal which knows many more things than men are aware of. The concentration of the men produces an atmosphere, a change in the (universal?) consciousness — which calls forth the manifestations.

    Sometimes small spirits of the lower vital plane and the physical plane may take part in it and help in the manifestations simply for the sake of amusement.

    Genuine cases of intervention are very rare. Dead persons can communicate with the living if they feel interested and are sufficiently near.


    Sri Aurobindo described the experiments made by Mirra [the Mother] in these matters. She, simply by the exertion of her will could create such a force as would make a table to jump across a room and come to her bed where she was lying.


    The idea that all sorts of departed persons are hanging about for centuries and respond to the table-rappers is ridiculously absurd.


    Persons when dying may create thought-forms which appear before distant relatives. Dying persons may leave behind influences which may be taken up by vital beings and worked — this explains the genuine cases of oppression by the ghosts of departed persons.

    Devils may appear in human bodies which they take possession of at the time of birth.



Join the discussion!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s