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Come, see Ghosts!
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
28 min
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Questioner (Q): Acharya Ji, because we are standing here and our sense organs are allowing us to see only this side of the hill, we cannot see the other side. Similarly, perhaps there are many objects, many life forces that we are not available to, because of our limited perspective in life. There are friends of mine, there are people I know who argue that ghosts, souls, subtle bodies; they cannot be seen by these naked eyes but if you develop certain powers, you can for sure see them. And when I see this analogy, it makes sense to me. What do you have to say?

Acharya Prashant (AP): See, you're talking about something material here, right? And you're talking about the laws of movement of light. When you say that you can look at only one side of the hill and not the other side, you are actually, indirectly referring to the law that light moves in straight lines, that's all.

So, there is nothing mysterious here. You are referring to a fundamental characteristic of the material universe. And when it comes to the material there are certain laws and those laws are inviolable. Those laws pertain as much to the observed material as to the observer in the sense that the observer can observe only the material and that observation takes place according to certain laws.

So, there is nothing really called paranormal observation or paranormal experience. The observer may have certain irregularities inside his mind, and that can lead to a distorted sense of perception, but that distortion has all to do with the observer, and that distortion tells nothing at all about the observed material or phenomena. For example, if I am under the influence of alcohol and my sensory functions, brain functions are distorted a little, I might just perceive that these are six fingers here (referring to his hand). That does not tell anything about my hand or the number of my fingers. If anything, it tells about the state of my brain.

Similarly, there is nothing called paranormal activity in the external world. That which you call as external world follows the law of Prakriti , which physics, so honestly and gently seeks to translate into a mathematical language. Those laws are inviolable. There are no exceptions there. If somebody is perceiving something that violates the laws of physics; which are the laws of Prakriti then that experience, I am repeating this, then that experience has something to do with the experiencer’s own brain. The brain has deviated from its normal functioning. And if the brain has deviated from its normal functioning, that does not really mean that the brain has ascended to a higher state. It merely means that the brain is now delusional; these are six fingers (pointing towards five fingers) that kind of delusion.

Q: Would you say that, of course, I think you would say yes to this, the human system i.e. our brain, body, mind, is limited, our perspectives are limited. We cannot perceive everything at once. Would you agree with this?

AP: Not in the sense you are putting it. Our sensory perceptions are limited in the sense that when I'm looking at this side, I cannot look at that side but that does not mean that there is something in the universe that is material and yet cannot be experienced or that there is something in the universe that is not material and yet can be experienced.

Q: Acharya Ji, our ability to see only till a particular point in the distance is because of the powers that these instruments (pointing towards eyes) have.

AP: It is because of physical phenomena. If you have a perfectly clear path you can look till infinity.

Q: With which instrument?

AP: With your eyes, with these very eyes. What happens on clear nights? How are you able to look at those stars which are otherwise not available to you? If there is nothing obstructing the path of light you can look practically till infinity. So, when you say, “You know, our senses are limited” instead of this being an exercise in humility, this becomes an exercise in self-deception. Our eyes are not limited when it comes to looking at material objects. If there is some material object to be seen, the eyes can look at it. Even if it is, you know, at an infinite distance away from you, provided nothing is obstructing the path.

Q: So, seeing, hearing or whatever is being experienced is based on certain conditions. What I'm trying to arrive at is, if those conditions are changed, and Yogic practices claim that they can radically transform the instruments within, the instruments which perceive the world then, perhaps all that is not usually perceived can be…

AP: That will require a physical change in the constitution of the eyes themselves.

Q: And what, Acharya Ji, makes you so sure that Yoga cannot do that?

AP: Because that will require a change in the DNA itself. You'll no more be a human being. The very DNA that determines the color of your skin also determines the constitution of these balls of flesh called eyes. If your eyes are to change, everything about you will change.

Q: There are Yogis who claim that their third eye has been awakened and they can see things that these two eyes cannot.

AP: If somebody has a third eye made of flesh and blood then he cannot have any mechanism in the body that resembles that of a normal human being.

Q: So, the third eye between the two eyes of the Shiva, they are just symbolic?

AP: Even mythology does not say that the third eye is a real thing in flesh and blood. It is obviously symbolic. It's a great symbol.

Q: But there's a mark on the forehead of Shiva, we see that.

AP: So, Shiva is not a person. The third eye does not really belong to a person. Shiva is a great symbol.

Q: What does it mean that Shiva opened his third eye?

AP: It means that as a human being you must strive to take your consciousness beyond attachment to the material. The eyes can look only at material. You have to go beyond material which means you have to go beyond the stuff that these two eyes look at. Symbolically you have to go beyond these two eyes.

Now, is there a third eye beyond these two eyes? Not really. It's just the beyondness that matters. These two eyes have to be transcended. In other sense, in other words, the material world that these two eyes look at has to be transcended. Transcended in the sense that you look at something and you fall for it, there is greed, attraction, possessiveness, you have to transcend that.

Q: So, you do agree that there are some people who are able to transcend the materiality and this system limits us to.

AP: Obviously, and that's a very abstract thing. It's got to do with the ego. The ego is no more attached to gold, to money, to possessions, to prestige. That's what it symbolizes.

Q: What is your response to those who get back to you and say that "Acharya Ji perhaps these paranormal forces have not come into your own personal experience and that's why you're theoretically denouncing them. Perhaps, it is you who have not experienced these but they can be experienced by other people who are available…"

AP: If I say, “There is somebody whose body temperature is a thousand degrees centigrade” what would you say?

Q: I would say that's not a human being, maybe something else.

AP: No, I'm saying there is somebody whose body temperature is a thousand degrees centigrade. What would you say?

Q: Some fictional character…

AP: You're saying, “It's fiction, it's not real” and I'll say, “Maybe you have not experienced it. Maybe your body temperature never rose to thousand degrees, but just because you haven't experienced it, how does it prove that somebody cannot have a thousand degrees temperature?”

Q: But science has proven that this body cannot bear a thousand degrees, but science has not proven that these souls don't exist.

AP: Wait, wait, wait, wait, so let's stick with the analogy. So, it's then not about that special person, it's about this body. This body is 70% water. The water cannot survive as water in its liquid state beyond 100 degrees. This skin cannot tolerate a thousand degrees. So, it's not about that person. You might say, “I have not met that person. I know nothing about that person but I know myself and knowing myself I know that, that person is lying.”

Q: It's about the species of that person?

AP: It's about the species that person belongs to. If that person is human, certain things are just ruled out. So, I am human and I know my body and I know my constitution and I know my skin. So, I know that no skin can survive a thousand degrees centigrade.

Q: Makes sense.

AP: Similarly, if somebody says that you know a quadratic equation can have five roots, what would you say? You would say, “Such a thing is impossible by the very definition of a quadratic equation.” It is defined to have only two roots. It cannot have five roots. You are talking nonsense.

Q: But what defines a human being is its inability to be defined. I mean we can fly as much as possible.

AP: No, no, no, that's imagination. When you're talking of ghosts, you're not talking of something imaginary and toto. You're talking of something that enters the human body and the human body is real. You may not know the ghost but you know the human body, and here you are talking of something in relation to the human body. You are saying, “The ghost is something that enters the human body", let's say. The ghost is something that is visible to the human body?

Q: Many have seen them.

AP: Right, but the human body can look only at material. These eyes can perceive only the material. These eyes can perceive only something that reflects light. You cannot look at something unless it is a reflector of light. And for something to reflect light, it needs to be material. How are you able to look at this tree or this twig or that hillside or anything? It is because they are opaque to light. They are reflecting light back to you and only material reflects back light. And if something is material then it is a part of this normal universe. Why are you calling it paranormal? There is nothing paranormal there.

Similarly, you know this body.

Only material can enter this body and only material can leave this body because this body is material. Therefore, the thing called 'ghost' is excluded by definition.

Q: So, if it is paranormal then you cannot see it. If you can see it; it is material.

AP: If it is paranormal then that paranormality has to do with one's own mental inability or insanity. There is nothing called 'paranormal' in the external objective world.

Q: But Acharya Ji, there are documentations. People have seen them.

AP: You can document anything because it pleases the ego. Finally, the good-for-nothing fellow had something special happening in his life. Why won't he want to document it? There is nothing at all extraordinary.

Q: Detailed documentations Acharya Ji, detailed.

AP: So, you can have detailed imaginations and imagination can be more detailed than the fact itself because nothing stops you from going into imaginary details. And the imagination need not be deliberately mischievous. You see, a large part of ourselves is unknown to us. We live in such illusion about ourselves, such ignorance about ourselves. We do not know what lies in the subconscious.

So, it is those demons in the subconscious that present themselves to us in front of our eyes. It's not that the thing is really standing out there, somewhere. It's something from in here (indicating towards the head) that's getting projected out there.

Q: The individual, the school of thoughts, that says that in general, normally this mechanism can only perceive three dimensions but if certain practices, mainly Yogic practices are followed; this body can also be made potent to perceive fourth and fifth dimension and so on.

AP: One basic thing, one thing can perceive another thing only in its own dimension. For you to perceive the fourth dimension, your three-dimensional body will have to fall apart. So you're dead.

Q: No, I didn't get it.

AP: Something in the x-dimension alone cannot perceive the y dimension. Something in the x-y plane cannot perceive the z-axis. Something in three dimensions cannot perceive the fourth dimension. If you claim that you are perceiving the fourth dimension then you cannot be limited to the three dimensions but here you are, standing as a body and yet talking so big about the fourth and the fifth and the nth dimensions. Which is obviously false.

Q: If it is so obvious, I mean there are comments, there are people who come to me and say that "What Acharya Ji is saying about supernatural forces is logically understood, but what about my own experience?" I have seen them.

AP: You can experience anything. You are the experiencer. All your life your experiences have fooled you. When you looked at that woman, you experienced pure love. Next year, you were filing for divorce. What happened to that experience? Don't you know how your experience fools you all the time?

Q: But people see, like figures standing, seven feet figure standing.

AP: Don't you see the most beautiful woman of the world, in the world standing in front of you in the form of your girlfriend? Don't you call her the most beautiful woman in the world? That's the capacity of your seeing. We are people who live in self-delusion all the time. Even when we are looking at normal people, we are actually imagining, we are seeing ghosts all the time.

What is the ghost? That which does not exist yet appears to exist. Even your girlfriend is a ghost actually because the way you look at her she really is not. She is an object of your imagination and that becomes clear when you develop an intimacy and therefore there is friction and all those things.

Wait, had you told me or rather asked me, “Acharya Ji, give me some word, some word that does not exist in the dictionary”. Come on! Some word that does not exist in the Hindi-English dictionary, some random word?

Q: Kucchi Pokulu

AP: You would have come to me and said Acharya please speak on Kucchi Pokulu. What would be my response? “I do not know” and if you really find this subject so important, I'll go back and probably study and come back. And then I'll humbly say, “I do not know” because Kucchi Pokulu is not known to me but when you say please speak on ghosts then you are not coming to me with something that is totally unknown to me. Why?

Ghosts are not unknown to me, not because I have seen ghosts, but because you define ghosts with respect to this body and the universe. You say, “Ghosts are something that leaps out of this body upon death", and then you say, "Ghosts exist in this spatial world." Right? Now I do not know about ghosts because they don't exist actually, but still, let's keep that aside.

I know about this body at least, right? And I know about this universe that surrounds us. I know about the properties of the universe. I know what material is. I know how material this body is, and therefore when you will say something so outrageous with respect to this body, I have sufficient ground to deny that.

Had you just said do ghosts exist without giving me a definition of ghosts then I would have said, “I don't know.” But according to you, a ghost is something that can enter a body, that can leave a body, and then that's something that can dance around…

Q: If you are asked, “Can I see a ghost?” then you would surely respond because you cannot see a ghost.

AP: Yes, you cannot see a ghost, you cannot see. If you can see a ghost then you should also be able to shoot a ghost. Why? Because to see a thing, the thing has to be material and if the thing is material then it will be vulnerable to a bullet. But then in all your paranormal fiction, no ghost is ever vulnerable to a bullet. But a material thing has to be vulnerable to bullets. Then you can say, “But then air is materiality and a bullet does not harm air”, fine but then air can be controlled through certain other material and physical processes.

So, if a ghost is material then it will respond to all the laws of material physics. Why are you calling it paranormal? It is a very normal thing then.

Q: What do you have to say about movies showing ghosts disappearing into mirrors, that ghost cannot be seen in mirrors, like certain, I mean…

AP: The way you see something in the mirror is not very different from the way you look at something directly. If I'm looking at you directly right now, what is happening? The sun is up there, the rays are traveling, they are hitting your cheek and entering my eye, right? And that's how I'm perceiving your physical presence. And how do I look at you, let's say in the mirror? Alternatively, what can happen is I can hold a mirror here, the ray comes from there, hits your body, hits the mirror, and then comes to me. So, it's not very different.

If you can look at something directly, that's very much similar to looking at something in the mirror.

Q: If it is such an obvious thing because, for the course of this discussion, it's been 15-20 minutes I am getting confused because I had come with a certain understanding and motive. If it is so obvious to you and when I look at you saying things, I mean, the way you say things I get convinced or I try to understand and I start understanding.

AP: No, don't get convinced too easily.

Q: No, it's not…

AP: I'm just offering stuff for you to think on, meditate on and come to an understanding that is purely individual.

Q: Now, the question that's coming to me is if it is so obvious that all this is nonsense why are we talking about it in 2020? Why is it an issue even?

AP: We're talking about in 2020 because the fundamental darkness in man's mind exists as much in 2020 as it existed in 2020 BC. Because we are spiritually away from the Truth, therefore, the mind is afraid.

Only Truth can dispel fear. And that timeless, eternal, impersonal Truth, is something we do not strive for in our life.

And when that Truth is not there, when the spiritual Truth is not there then the mind is just a home to all kinds of darknesses. And when those darknesses are there, then you're not sure about anything, let alone ghosts.

Neither can you confirm anything with conviction nor can you deny, refute anything with absolute certainty. Therefore, when somebody comes to you and says, “Ghosts”, you just do not have the conviction to say, “No” because you don't have conviction in anything in your life.

About everything in your life, you are anyway uncertain. Think of it. Is the common man absolutely certain about anything in his life? No. So, how can he be absolutely certain that ghosts don't exist? And if ghosts indeed do exist and this man denies them, then ghosts are said to be of a vindictive nature and who knows what harm may come upon you.

Why expose oneself to that kind of harm? Why run that risk? So simply concede, admit that, "Well, you know probably ghost true exists, after all so much documentation is there and all the great gurus are talking of ghosts and so, therefore, the ghosts, you know…" Why? Why run the risk.

Q: The biographies, one after the other where so-called Yogis are narrating stories where they have confronted people who can fly in the air, who can vanish from one point and appear at another.

AP: It's a very easy and proven way to dominate the gullible mind.

Q: And Acharya Ji, as a seeker of Truth, somebody who's trying to read scriptures and understand things about life, it gets even more difficult for one to disbelieve in such things when Yogis and Gurus are speaking such stuff and from their own life.

AP: The first thing is to not take any guru at face value. How do you know first of all that he is fit to be called a Guru? Social sanction is what makes him a Guru? It's a bad state of affairs.

So, you have to be very careful in letting someone become your Guru. The approach has to be one of negation. You keep negating. You don't admit anybody. Nobody deserves to be a Guru. And when somebody is so powerful with the Truth, so honest with the Truth, so innocent with the Truth that he is actually able to bulldoze his way, ram his way into your consciousness, in spite of all your negation. Only then that person deserves to be a Guru. That person, that book, or whatever. It could be a dead person, he could be… he, she, any…

So, your job is not to be indiscreetly available to all kinds of charlatans. That's not your job. Your job is to safeguard yourself because the entire world is too eager to become a Guru to you. Your job is to keep refuting, keep negating. And if your refusal is genuine, if there is honesty in your negation then the real one would barge into your consciousness in spite of your resistance. Only such a person, living or dead, real or fictitious, doesn't matter, deserves to be a Guru. Otherwise, no.

You see, the ego wants to dominate, and if I say something to you that is verifiable, falsifiable then it is not very easy to dominate you. Let's say I want to dominate you and I say, “Yeah you! you're just five feet ten, I'm six feet two.” In a bit to dominate you, I’m making such a claim. You'll be able to verify it with your own eyes or maybe with an inch tape, right? And very quickly you will measure me up and say, “Dude, you're not even 5”10’.

So, that won't work because you're talking about something material. Height is something material. So, you cannot brag too much on that. You'll be caught. You'll be falsified. But the ego wants to dominate. So how does it achieve that? If you say that you're superior to me because of height, that won't work. So, a better way to dominate me is," I have extraordinary powers, I have paranormal capabilities, I see ghosts, I control ghosts", all those things.

Now, the thing with these things is they cannot be falsified because your fundamental thing is, "They belong to my personal experience" and at the same time you are saying that "Your personal experience cannot be mine." I just have to blindly believe you on what you are saying. You write a book claiming you did such a thing with ghosts then that thing, and that thing, and that thing, and I'm supposed to believe it. I'm supposed to believe it because you're a big Guru, because you sit with celebrities, right? So I'm supposed to believe it.

Now, this is a pretty shady state of affairs, obviously.

* Q: And those who read such books and are made to feel that they cannot have such experiences. They are often also given a path so…

AP: No they are, first of all, told that such experiences are real. Secondly, they are told that there is that one special Guru who is having all these exotic experiences and you are missing out on them. And then he is told that you too can have those exotic experiences if you follow the Guru.

So, that's how the guru gains in dominance.

Q: Pathetic. Last query to you Acharya Ji, because before coming to you to discuss this I was slightly embarrassed if I should be asking this question because prima facie this is anti-science. I mean one should not be asking this to a Teacher, should also just go and read enough science. If there is a list of five things that you would recommend to today's mankind, today's society to practice, for example, education. These beliefs are seen more in rural areas where the education rate is very low.

AP: No, not at all. Rural people, uneducated people have Gurus who speak in the rural languages, rural dialects. Educated people have English-speaking Gurus.

Q: And both are speaking nonsense.

AP: And both are uttering, you know, unbelievable amounts of nonsense.

Q: If one has to guard oneself in today's society against let's say superstition around ghosts, let's be very specific. What are the four-five practices or ways or sadhana that you would recommend?

AP: Why does it require sadhana to not to believe in ghosts? It only requires a sane mind. I mean, my question is how somebody can bring himself to believe in such things? That's what embarrasses me. I don't even wonder about it, even wondering about it makes me embarrassed about mankind as a whole. Do we belong to this species that believes in ghosts?

Q: A few days ago I read a Facebook post where Harvard alumnus had written a review about this famous book where the Guru has talked about his own paranormal experiences and that Harvard alumnus was really praising the book. So, one thinks he is from Harvard and …

AP: Frankly speaking, such people should be in jail. They are pushing the human mind, our collective mind back into dark ages of superstition. Spreading superstition is obviously a crime. Any person who is writing a book that abets superstition deserves to be behind the bars. He should be in jail. Instead, it's indeed tragic that such people are often felicitated with state honors and awards, and public veneration.

Q: Is it something special about you that these things are so obvious to you or are there things lacking in people, like me and others who are not able to, I mean, so obviously can see that, "No!" Why does it not strike us that “Come on! He's lying.”

AP: I don't think of it as something special. It's just that like a human being, like an innocent person, I want to understand, I seek to understand. I just don't want to accept. It's not that I'm a compulsive rebel or something. It's just that I have that instinct to question, seek, understand because I want that inner satisfaction. Unless I know that the issue is really settled, I'm going to remain dissatisfied as does everybody.

You are no different than me. In that sense, we are all one. Don't we want the Truth? Who's satisfied with falseness? That's all that I do. So, I'm sorry, I won't be able to give you four or five points to guard you against falseness and delusion and superstition and ghosts. I do not know of any four or five step process. Simple, basic, innocent honesty is enough.

Why must you be so afraid that you can't even question? Is there a need? See how nicely the sun sets upon our discussion (Indicating towards sunset behind the hill) and everything that you are seeing there follows the laws of physics. There's nothing paranormal there at all but it's beautiful and that's the thing about Truth. Nothing paranormal there, yet great beauty. Just stand here and allow yourself to be immersed in meditativeness. This is spirituality, not all the nonsense about ghosts.

Be free of fear, prejudice, attachment, aggression, avarice. Why must you keep burning inside? Why must you keep trembling inside? The hills are there, the sun is there, it's upon the lake that we stand and they are very very normal. Spirituality is the movement of the ego into normalcy. Normalcy not in the sense of what the crowd does. Normalcy in the sense of Sahajata , ease.

Spirituality is not about stuff paranormal. Spirituality is about becoming more and more normal, more and more ordinary each passing day. With paranormal concerns, what you are seeking is something extraordinary and that's what the ego does. Doesn't it always want something extraordinary?

So, you have today seen something extraordinary- ghosts. And the ego is so satisfied. It got us so excited. "I'm special, I saw a ghost." Ease, that's what the ego needs, not exotica.

(Acharya Ji and the Questioner silently gaze at the sunset.)

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