~ Written By Bobby Elgee ~

This article is an open query to all ghost hunters, paranormal investigators, psychics, mediums, parapsychologists, and theologians regarding the possible moral obligations concerning assisting certain types of ghosts–as defined as the consciousness of deceased persons possibly trapped in the material realm–to move on to ‘the other side.’

I am an amateur paranormal investigator with limited experience and many questions cross my mind, not only about the research and gathering ‘evidence’ of the paranormal, but also questions related to the moral, ethical, and spiritual aspects of this endeavor.

My question is this:

Do we have an obligation to assist ghosts in their transition to ‘the other side’?

The question is based on a series of assumptions as follows:

1. Ghosts are the consciousness of deceased humans and certain ghosts are ‘stuck’ in the material realm.

2. Some ghosts may be unaware that they are ghosts and/or they are unable to muster the actions/steps necessary to ‘move on.’

3. There is something beyond the material realm. A place or state exists that is a natural and probably desirable next step, and getting there is necessary to complete the spiritual evolution of these free-floating ‘minds’ called ghosts.

4. Thus we, as the living, being knowledgeable of the condition of their existence–and theoretically having the tools to assist them in their spiritual evolution–should render this assistance.

The above assumptions possibly place us–as paranormal investigators and others concerned with the spiritual evolution of our species–in a unique position to be able to provide this assistance. If the assumptions above are true and/or you believe in ghosts, to not act based on these assumptions be could something akin to leaving Kitty Genovese bleeding on the street.

If you believe that people should be altruistic–that is being obligated and willing to help our fellow humans (and ghosts)–we should seriously consider this issue.

There is research that shows that humans can be altruistic. They certainly may demonstrate this trait. We operate in groups for the greater good and are social creatures. However, there is also social psychological research that demonstrates that we are very selfish, e.g. we may only clearly operate altruistically when it serves our own needs/ideals or that of our family. We may be unique in the animal kingdom considering our combination of altruistic and selfish traits. The discussion of these psychological and sociological ideas certainly goes beyond the constrains of this article, but they do bear mentioning.

So, when considering this question, one has to look deep into oneself and society and consider whether your answer to the question is self-serving or genuinely altruistic.

Considering the popular television show Ghost Hunters, rarely do they televise cleansing efforts, involve religious authorities or psychics specific to this issue, and it appears that their activities in regards to their clients mostly involve educating their clients to paranormal phenomena with the tenet that knowledge reduces fear–and that there is really nothing to fear, at least for the humans involved.

This is just on the surface, and TAPS (The Atlantic Paranormal Society) certainly provides more services than is discernable from their television show and has demonstrated the capability to provide referrals to professionals and experts capable of operating under the assumptions I mentioned earlier.

Anyone that has done any background research on Grant, Jason, and Steve–the force behind TAPS– realizes that their paranormal experiences far exceeds what is able to be shown in an hour television show. For all the commercialization and debates to as to whether the ‘evidence’ they present is valid, they do deserve immense credit to bringing the realm of the paranormal–and implications on the spiritual evolution of the human race–to light and educating the general public in regards to these type of phenomena as genuine and legitimate human experiences.

Other television shows have a bent that lends themselves more toward addressing the possible moral and ethical responsibilities that this article is questioning. Paranormal State, the team of young investigators and paranormal entrepreneurs from Penn State, definitely deserves credit for bringing this issue more to light and embracing a wider spirituality that underlies the entire endeavor.

Both groups, Ghost Hunters and Paranormal State, are clearly human-centric. The living are more important then the dead. Their needs take precedent, being the primary needs in any case. This is a premise I have to believe, as my belief in ghosts and the afterlife are unresolved at best. If a child is scared, or an adult is being tormented by paranormal experiences, the impact on their quality of life is obvious. Why the supposed ‘ghosts’ are exhibiting this ‘behavior’ is always secondary to the needs of the living.

Are we racist against ghosts? Do we neglect their needs in support of the living? Absolutely, but this is the way it is. There is a conscious and unconscious assigning of priorities in any paranormal investigation, and whether we are ‘racists’ considering ghosts is fodder for another article, the implications of which are not discussed here.

I take this type of bias as possible indication of genuine altruism exhibited by the human race. It is one of the ways that demonstrates that we, as living humans, are part of the same family. Ghosts, by definition, are not, though perhaps they once were. Thus ghosts become the second-class citizens of any paranormal investigation. Though ghosts are the reason we’re investigating in the first place, in reality they are not. We are investigating for us, and sometimes ghosts are treated like nothing more then strange animals in a zoo where we go to gawk. Again, these issues are very interesting, but beyond the bounds of this article.

So, we come back to the original question:

Do we have an obligation to help ghosts move to the other side?

Consider the following series of questions which represent a potential can of worms related to the question above.

1. What if some ghosts choose to stay?

There are documented cases of people who are alive, astrally traveling or presumably engaging in ESP and appearing as apparitions to people, family members, or even complete strangers. How do you determine the difference between this phenomenon and that of a haunting?

Then we would need to determine the difference between a residual haunting and an intelligent haunting, assuming that residual haunting is not caused by a conscious spirit.

What’s left may be an intelligent haunting. If so, how would we decide if the ghost wants to be here, or that it doesn’t know it is trapped? What if the ghost knows it’s trapped, and believes that the other side is hell? Again, we have a can of worms here which may place us–as paranormal investigators–casting judgments that have already been decided by the concepts of God across a variety of religions.

2. How do we determine the reasons why an intelligent ghost is staying? How do we decide those reasons presumably using the tools we have now?

3. Once we’ve determined the answers to #1 and #2, what do we do next? How do we decide which ghosts to help, and those that don’t need or want our help? What tactics do we employ to accomplish this?

So, we are left with a series of questions that are very important, addressing the basic premise of what it is to be human–and to be a ghost–and our obligations and responsibilities as to what that means. Ranging from theology, spirituality, psychology, to the tactics of ghost hunting, this “hobby” certainly generates questions–and possibly answers–that may affect the entire human race.

I have no answers, only questions. However, in my quest to become a more competent paranormal investigator, I believe the techniques and technology are the relatively easy questions to address. The questions behind why we are employing such tactics–the difficult part in my opinion–and our eventual goals become very important for all ghost hunters to consider.

I firmly believe that we cannot flail blindly in the dark when dealing with such questions. I think, whether we believe in ghosts or not, we do have an obligation to help them if they need it. Not to do so makes you less human in my opinion. And, I feel that many groups neglect these questions or when they are addressed, it is done so in a cursory and self-serving way. I certainly do not exempt myself from this, and perhaps writing this makes me a hypocrite.

In my opinion, there are many obstacles in the way of developing any type of consensus in these matters. One of the main obstacles is inconsistent use of language and even a basic ignorance, and perhaps disagreement, in regards to various terminologies.

For example, many groups state that their goal is to find proof of the paranormal. This is a misnomer. The fact is that a paranormal phenomenon does exist. I define paranormal as something that is currently unexplainable by science. There is plenty of phenomena that is unexplainable by science, as every scientist will tell you.

One needs to clearly define the words they are using if they pretend they are doing something remotely resembling scientific research. If everyone uses the same word in a different way, no one has any idea what anyone is talking about. In scientific research, one doesn’t generally have to worry about this. In the field of paranormal investigation, I feel this problem is pervasive.

Some groups clearly state that their goal is to prove the existence of the afterlife or life after death. These groups come more closely to presenting themselves in a way that elucidates their goals. But what exactly are their goals?

Lets be frank, no one is probably ever going to prove the existence of the afterlife in the foreseeable future. A lofty goal, sure, but one in all likelihood is probably unobtainable. Setting realistic goals is important in any endeavor, and ghost hunting is no different. Perhaps setting such an all encompassing goal undermines the method, and the ability to work toward obtaining this goal.

Running around, taking strange photographs, capturing audio of unexplained voices, and documenting cold spots and spikes in EMF activity may not be advancing the body of knowledge toward proving the afterlife in any meaningful way. However, at this point, these are some the most popular tools we have.

If you do want to prove the existence of the afterlife, and you capture some evidence of what you feel is a ghost, how come most people just walk away from it? They put the picture on their Web site and show it off, with little regard to the ghost itself. Even worse then that, they may return to the location–even bringing in more investigators–in an attempt to capture further ‘evidence.’ And yet, what is done as far as attempts to determine why the ‘ghost’ is there and what can be done to help its spiritual evolution? Again, this unfortunate spirit is reduced to an exhibit, a zoo animal, and something to be harassed.

There has to be more then that, and as a ghost hunter or paranormal investigator, especially if you believe in ghosts, you should do something about it, and hopefully something that will help on a spiritual level. Otherwise, in my opinion, you are nothing better then a tourist and an amateur, and are solely thinking of your own needs and desires. In other words, you are being self-serving.

Many groups are very committed to debunking. In my mind, these groups have less of an obligation to assist these disembodied spirits. For myself, I am not convinced of the existence of ghosts. The paranormal phenomena I have captured evidence of is simply that in my mind. It’s paranormal–unexplained by science. Subsequently calling such phenomena a ghost is a leap of faith I can’t make with any degree of certainty at this time. Thus, I’m fairly comfortable not attaching any spiritual implications or obligations to any such phenomena.

Until I am actually convinced that there are such things as ghosts, I don’t necessarily feel any obligation to take further steps beyond just trying to figure out what “it” is. However, I do articulate this, and don’t run around identifying such phenomena as ghosts, then do nothing about it. Also, I do work with people who study these aspects of paranormal investigations, and feel that they have the skills to address these aspects if necessary.

Of course, I may be wrong and self-serving and–in an effort to justify my actions and reconcile them with my thoughts and opinions on the subject–may be neglecting a very important piece of the puzzle. In fact, I have a nagging feeling in the back of my head this may be the very case.

Given the original premise of this article, ghost hunters become elevated to a unique group– a group who has to have an understanding of human psychology, culture, and spirituality, and be able to offer advice and take action concerning a spirits spiritual well-being.

The field of paranormal investigation will evolved only if people consider the basic questions, motivations, and drives beyond just capturing evidence. Look at the original question underneath it all…why do we do this?

To take a basic tenet of ethics, one must first do no harm. Regardless of whether ghosts exist–and by default this implies the existence of an afterlife–I sincerely don’t believe that most paranormal investigators are causing any harm. But if one does consider the spiritual implications regarding helping a trapped spirit, we are acting on a body of imperfect knowledge, and thus by doing so, perhaps could cause harm if we aren’t very careful and thoughtful in our methods.

So, are there any answers in this article? Probably not, but there are many questions and the half-baked musings of an amateur ghost hunter who may just be in over his head.

Visit Bobby Elgee’s site: http://www.nhghosts.com/