Seeing a ghost

by frankbeswick

Many people sees strange things, but the question is how you interpret them.

This article has been motivated by the account given by a particular individual, who underwent a strange experience. What do you do when you awake in the night and see a figure staring at you in your own bedroom? It then disappears very suddenly. Is it a ghost, the remnants of a dream, or something out of the ordinary? You were not taking drugs or drunk, you are not insane or in the habit of hallucinating at night. You are not willing to jump to conclusions about ghosts, so what do you think about what you "saw"?

Image courtesy of manolofranco

The Experience

I will call him Freeman, for he wishes not to be identified, but he tells of awakening one night last week [late November 2016]  to   a strange experience. I can vouch for the authenticity of his tale, as I  consider him trustworthy. Let us hear his words.

"There is nothing odd about my house, which is just over a hundred years old; there is no brooding presence or strange feeling. In fact, it is a place at peace with itself, exuding an atmosphere of peace, a place where I and others are comfortable and in  which nothing odd has been seen. Until a few nights ago."

" My wife and I are comfortable living where we are, and we have no plans to  go elsewhere. A few nights ago we were both in bed, and she sleeps the sleep of the just.I don't, but I plead the fifth amendment on that one. I often awaken at night, and this time, when lying and enjoying the warmth of the bed I sensed a presence in the room,  to my left. I looked across to the left and saw an old woman smiling down at the bed. She was vivid, short, round face, curly grey hair. I was shocked into full alertness, and as that happened she disappeared. I have seen nothing since. But what struck me was that she was completely clear to me, as if she was not lit by the faint light that filters in through the curtains. I  am not sure of what I saw, and I am not going to jump to conclusions. Did I even see anything at all. I really don't know."  

"What is certain is that there was no sense that there was anything evil present. This was not a dark entity. What intrigues me was that I sensed that there was someone present before I saw the apparition. I had not been dreaming of anything at the time."

Interpretation.

Let us have a look at some environmental factors. Freeman had drunk two pints of ale-strength drink several hours earlier. He was not drunk and next morning suffered no hangover. He works, but was not overworked or under any stress, and his relationship with his wife, who still does not know of the experience, hence his anonymity in this article, is good. There are no marital problems. Freeman has never had psychotic experiences and does not suffer hallucinations.  He is very well educated and not prone to jump to conclusions. The absence of any factors that suggest hallucinatory experiences mean that skeptics cannot easily resort to claims of drunkenness or temporary insanity, hallucinations and so on, the standard and rather tired explain-all  explanations of the strange and extraordinary that in explaining everything explain nothing. 

It is quite conceivable that a person awakening from a dream might find that the dream imagery persists into  the early stages of consciousness, and I suggest that this explains quite a few sightings at night, but Freeman was awake and was definitely not dreaming of anything. We might, however, observe that he was jolted into full alertness, so there is a possibility that he was not fully awake, and the edge of sleep can be a strange time, so a visual phenomenon that was the product of his own mind cannot be ruled out, and Freeman agrees, which is why he has not drawn a definite conclusion on what he saw. 

A  skeptical escape route will often be that he was ill and therefore hallucinating. Certainly,fevers, which cause high temperatures, are known cause hallucinations, and Freeman had one while an infant, but in this recent case he was not sick in any way whatsoever and has been for a long time in good health. He is not taking any illegal drugs and has no medications that produce hallucinatory side effects.  

While he admits that once or twice in the past he has sensed presences, these experiences have never included anything hallucinatory. This shows us that his mind is not  given to express his experiences in terms of visual hallucinations

The light in the room was at quite a low level, but there was nothing unusual about the light conditions, no passing headlights that interplay with the shadows in the room, and at no time in the past in that room has there been any visual apparition or anything seeming to be one. This gives the lie to another skeptical escape route, that he was gullible. A gullible person would have taken the experience at face value, but Freeman has not done so. He is not gullible.  

Tentative Conclusions

Freeman will not say that he has seen a ghost, but he rejects the easy skeptical explanations of what he saw, which don't work in this case. They explain away rather than explain. He is prepared to accept that he was imagining the vision,  as it was night time and he had been sleeping. But he points out that nothing like this had happened to him before and has not happened since. 

It could be an hallucination, but what if it is genuine and he has really experienced something supernatural? Skeptics may sneer at the possibility, but as they sneer at anything out of the ordinary,  their sneers simply become worn out, debased currency, a barrier to progress in the growth of wisdom and understanding

The first and most important strategy to follow when you see something strange is not to freak out or panic. In Freeman's case there was nothing harmful. Keep your self-control and remember, the time to get worried is if you encounter a ghost which can pack a punch, and so far this has not happened to anyone. The old lady, if she existed, would not have packed a punch in life, so why should she in death?

But as  Freeman says, you need to question yourself. Why did you have that  experience at that time. You might not be able to find a physical or medical reason, but you should be open-minded to the fact that there might be one. Of course, skeptics demand open-mindedness of everyone else. As you can see,I am no friend of die-hard skeptics, just as I am a critic of gullibility. 

You need to ask yourself if the experience is genuine, and if it is what does the apparition mean? Is it an earthbound spirit? If so, how do you get it to move on? As a Christian I would rely on prayer to achieve this. Might it be a visitant, an apparition that is not a feature of the property,but is considered to be a spirit  returning to  where they dwelt in life. Freeman does not know, and I am not going to  draw any conclusions, but I invite your comments on this matter.  

Updated: 11/27/2016, frankbeswick
 
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frankbeswick 5 days ago

BSG, your colleague's view that the figure that you saw was illusory may be right or wrong, but it comes from a process of reasoning whose assumptions he did not share with you. I suspect that he takes the Enlightenment world-view that believes that matter is all there is or that mind is merely an epiphenomenon dependent upon matter that exists but briefly, if at all and cannot survive the death of its body. In this view ghosts must be illusory. Right or wrong,people need to be clear to you about where their advice is coming from.

frankbeswick 6 days ago

The Catholic Church does not deny the existence of ghosts,but makes no issue of them. Look at what Jesus says in Luke 24, that a ghost does not have flesh. At no point does he tell the apostles that there are no ghosts. Have we not realized that our view of the afterlife as a limited number of places [Heaven, Hell, Purgatory and Limbo] is unscriptural? In the tale of the Gerasene demoniac the evil spirits are clearly operative in the world, and hence not in Hell. They plead with Jesus not to send them into the pit, and he allows them to enter pigs. Whatever we think of this strange story, we are shown that the spirits are at loose in the world, we have a picture of Jesus who does not wish to send even the evil ones into the pit, which I take to be hell. This story does not fit with the simplistic eschatology which teaches that there are the four places that I have mentioned which provide the destiny for all spirits upon death.

frankbeswick 6 days ago

In England we sometimes joke about pleading the fifth amendment, which we know about and have heard characters in American films claim. [I wish we did have a constitution like yours.] The person concerned is a British person and has led an innocent life.He was speaking in a jocular way.

Mira 6 days ago

I think that if the mind can see apparitions of the Virgin Mary, then it follows it can also see ghosts. I wonder then why the Catholic Church is not more open to this idea.

blackspanielgallery 6 days ago

I fully understand, as I have had a similar experience of a figure passing after I awoke one night only to disappear. I brought this to a friend at the college, a psychology professor, and was told the mind does such things. I found the explanation less than adequate, for I know what I saw, and know my state of mind at the time. The lack of fear and peacefulness of the presence is also common to my experience.
Since I do not believe the fifth amendment is English, I am guessing your friend is from the U. S.

frankbeswick 7 days ago

Nelda, you are absolutely right that there are things happening in the world that we do not understand.

As for the house, the previous owner but one was an old lady who sold it to fund retirement care, and died over a year ago. But I have no pictures of her.

Nelda_Hoxie 8 days ago

A few times in my life, I have had intuitive thoughts and experiences that were completely unlike anything else in my life. Nothing else in my being or in my surroundings had changed. They made a believer in me, that there is something else happening in the world that we humans don't understand. So I completely believe your friend, but I really don't know what it is he saw. Like dustytoes, I would research the history of the house and especially look for pictures.

frankbeswick 9 days ago

The events ceased at the age of thirteen and have not recurred.

dustytoes 9 days ago

Wow, that is interesting about your daughter. Do things like that still happen with her?

jptanabe 9 days ago

Fascinating! Certainly your friend experienced something, and is not jumping to conclusions. I like that. I tend to believe it was the spirit of a person, visiting with good intentions. If so and they have something to communicate, probably they will return. If not, then it was nice to share what seems to have been a pleasant experience.


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