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Do You Know The Difference Between A Ghost And A Spirit?

5 years, 4 months ago
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By bestselling author and paranormal investigator Joni Mayhan

People often interchange the terms freely, but there is a difference between a ghost and a spirit. Let’s start with death itself. Normally, this is a depressing topic that no one wants to contemplate. It’s an ending to everything we know and love. We usually don’t have time to plan it. It just happens. One minute we’re living and breathing and the next minute…we aren’t. What happens next might change your mind-set.

Over the years, we’ve learned a lot from people who have had near death experiences. At the time of their death, the majority of them saw a white light open up. Inside of it was a long tunnel, filled with friends and loved ones who already passed away. If they followed their loved ones through the white light, they floated away to the Astral Plane, a place many refer to as Heaven.

In this place, the newly departed then meets with their spirit guides and guardians, who take them through their life review. They have a chance to examine the life they lived and determine if they’ve made strides towards their overall life plan, something they constructed prior to their incarnation. After they finish, they begin a series of classes, geared towards helping them evolve to a higher level. Eventually, they make plans to reincarnate into a new body and head back to Earth for another round.


I know, it sounds a bit far-fetched. I thought this too the first time I heard about it, but what if it is true? Imagine, your life not being just a one-hit wonder. You have a chance to do it again with different, and hopefully, better circumstances. It makes death a bit less fearsome when you accept the concept that you are nothing more than a soul in a human body that you’ll eventually replace with a new human body.

Once you’ve gone through your life review, you have the chance to come back to Earth to visit loved ones. You might want to check on Aunt Sally and see how her knee surgery went or to follow your grandchildren to school, marveling at how much they’ve grown. Most of them won’t know you’re there, but some will pick up on your presence. You might give them a loving pat on the back or leave a pure white feather on their doorstep as a reminder.
If this were your reality, you would be a spirit.

So, what is a ghost?

Let’s backtrack to the white light. Imagine for a moment that you died, but you balked at the white light. You could have a variety of reasons for not wanting to pass through it. It could be as simple as not wanting to leave your family behind or as complicated as wanting to solve your own murder. Either way, you pause and lose your chance to go through the light. Now, you’re stuck here. You have the same problems, the same urgent issues, but you suddenly no longer have a body to wear. You’re just floating around, invisible to everyone and frustrated that you can’t communicate with anyone. This would make you a ghost.

The biggest problem with ghosts is the lack of divine intervention. They haven’t been to the Pearly Gates, or the Astral Plane’s version of this, so they haven’t learned anything. They don’t even know that their body was nothing more than a simple vehicle for their soul to ride in. The worst part is that some of them might also be downright evil.

Souls have a variety of reasons for not passing through the white light. While some might pause due to family loyalty, others resist the light because they’re afraid of what they’ll face on the other side. If they were killed while mowing down a busload of nuns, they probably don’t want to face what is on the other side, so they stay here…with us. Cheery thought, I know.

Therefore, the next time you interchange the word “ghost” for “spirit” consider the differences. If you would you lump your dear old grandmother into the same category as Jack the Ripper, then I wouldn’t want to meet you in a dark room at midnight after you’ve died. That would make you a ghost, and possibly a very nasty one at that.

All of this has taught me one important lesson. When I die and I see the white light, I’m diving in headfirst. I’m not pausing, not looking over my shoulder, and certainly not contemplating whether or not I should go. I’m going for it.

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  • sarah

    a “ghost” is an evil spirit pretending to be a ghost. evil spirits are everywhere and the only way to protect yourself from them is to know Jesus on a personal level

  • Indigo girl

    Oh please “a ghost is an evil spirit pretending to be a ghost”. I am afraid you know nothing my dear. Re-read the article. A spirit has gone to the Light, heaven, and has the ability to come back to visit. A ghost hasn’t- and is earth bound.

  • vicki

    Load of bull shit. A soul is someone you can Interact with. .the soul knows he/she has passed from their body..they know they have died. A ghost does not. He/she still goes through the daily routine as if alive. Like a reply of the past. You cant Interact with a ghost. Only a soul. You have a choice to stay here on earth beside loved ones. .or go to heaven with lo
    ved ones that have passed

  • loraallen

    As I was taught, a ghost is an entity that was once alive in a physical body just like us. A spirit is an entity that has never had a physical form.

  • sabrakatz

    A “Life review”? Taking classes on the other side? (I had quite enough of that in this life, thank you! I’ve heard theories that the white light is what you see as you are coming out of the birth canal (the tunnel) and being reborn! That makes some sense, at least….

  • Kevin Leong

    How do I know if I saw a spirit or a ghost?