By Bob Olson
Too many of the bereaved are suffering in their fear that their deceased loved ones are lost or stuck between worlds—commonly known as earthbound spirits. To me, this is a sad and unfortunate tragedy for the grieving because I have not seen any evidence of this belief in all my years investigating the afterlife (since 1999). Yet these beliefs that the recently deceased can get lost and not find their way to the light, or don’t know they’re dead, or don’t trust their loved ones in spirit who are calling them to the light, have been passed down through the generations, and I don’t know anyone who has ever questioned these ideas. If you have been worried that your loved one who passed might be an earthbound spirit, consider the multiple arguments I make in here to dispel these fear-creating myths so you can make a conscious decision about this subject after seeing both sides of it.
I want to share that I created a video on this subject for Afterlife TV, which ruffled a few people’s feathers—and I knew it would. Since there is a group of people, including some mediums, who have been passing along this fearful message that people can get lost or stuck between the physical world and the spiritual world (thus needing a human’s assistance to get back home), my contention that this is incorrect puts a few people on the defensive. Of course, it’s not my role to refrain from sharing a new paradigm of the afterlife just because some people have been spreading this erroneous and fearful message and might look bad.
So read my answer here knowing that it is more of a radical view than the popular one. Still, as I stated at the beginning of this book and will reiterate here, this isn’t a matter of me being right and anyone else being wrong. This is a matter of you, the reader and seeker of truth, being able to see all sides of the equation in order to make up your own mind by seeing the big picture.
That’s what I love about spirituality is that everyone gets to decide what is true for themselves. If you are only taught one view of things, then it’s difficult for you to consider another possibility that you’ve never imagined, which is why I’m willing to take the heat from those who are unwilling to consider that their old beliefs might be incorrect—so that you can make an informed choice on what is your truth. Of course, that’s the purpose of this entire book, isn’t it?
So now let’s consider the other side to this question, “Might my loved one be stuck or lost between worlds because they don’t now they’re dead?” My definitive answer is no, your loved one is not stuck or lost between worlds because they don’t know they’re dead. But let me answer this question in stages, which I will separate using italicized sub-headlines.
People who believe in earthbound spirits usually suggest that these deceased people are earthbound because they have not yet gone into the light (the spirit world), and they haven’t gone into the spirit world because a) they don’t know they’re dead, b) they have some unfinished business on earth, or c) they are afraid to go into the light and fear that the light—and the family members and friends who are calling them to it—might be a trick of the devil.
The subject of earthbound spirits (what some refer to as ghosts) commonly comes up within the context of hauntings. When a house is haunted, for instance, some believe that these ghosts have some reason for occupying the dwelling. It might be because this was the ghost’s home when alive and he is unusually attached to it, or the ghost is sticking around because he died a sudden death at that location and doesn’t know he is dead.
My investigation into the afterlife suggests that it doesn’t even make sense from a practical standpoint that spirits can get lost, stuck, confused or fearful. Too many people project human qualities upon spirits, never realizing that the laws of earthly physics and human psychology don’t hold true for people in spirit.
Spirits don’t get concussions. They don’t get lost. They don’t get paranoid and question the all-powerful light of Creative Intelligence as a devil’s trick. They don’t even question whether or not to go into the light. The only choice we sometimes (although rarely) make is whether or not to go back to into our bodies to continue our life, which is why near-death experiences occur. But these ideas that all these things could go wrong after our spirit leaves our body is simply due to people projecting human characteristics on spirits.
It’s important to not ignore the infinite power of the Universe. Call it Source, Creator, God or Creative Intelligence—whatever name works for you—but don’t forget that whatever you call it, this is the same force that created everything that is and ever was. And this is the same force that creates miracles. So even from a practical standpoint, only human arrogance or ignorance (lack of insight) would suggest that the Creator of the universe would be unable to convince a spirit that she is dead and needs to come home. Rephrased in a different way, only human arrogance or ignorance would suggest that God is unable to get his children home.
When you really think the earthbound spirit idea through, its credibility crumbles apart pretty quickly. You realize that once the spirit is no longer influenced by the human ego, the grounds for becoming an earthbound spirit have no integrity. Being led into the light isn’t a choice; it’s an automatic process, which has been corroborated by thousands of people who have had near-death experiences (they say that they automatically knew where to go without having to think about it). There’s no room for error. Every spirit returns to the spirit world, as there’s no other place to go. We can’t make a wrong turn, for instance. The Universe (with a capital U) encompasses everything, both physical and spiritual. There is nothing beyond Universe. Therefore, there is no way to get lost in the Universe because everywhere you go, there you are—still in the Universe. It is only our egos that try to convince us we are separate.
Furthermore, we are spiritual beings inhabiting a physical body, and our spirits within our bodies are eternally connected to our souls (our higher self), which remain in the afterlife dimension. Said another way, there is always a part of us that stays in the afterlife, and that part is what I call our soul. Our souls are the mothership, if you will, always waiting for our spirits to return to it.
Our souls are not merely waiting for our spirits to return; our souls are influencing our spirits to return. There is never any separation between spirit and soul. You and your soul are one, even when you inhabit a human body. As mentioned, any feelings of separation are merely an illusion caused by the human ego. Nevertheless, we only have an ego when our spirit resides within a physical body. So once our spirit is free from our body, our ego expires along with it and we instantly recognize our connection with our soul in the spirit world. And it is our connection with our soul that automatically draws us back to the afterlife. We don’t need to think about it or even be aware of it; our return to our soul happens naturally because we are never actually separate from it.
Hence, once our body dies and our spirit leaves it, our spirit returns to our soul in the afterlife like an elastic band returns to itself no matter how far you stretch it. There’s no way and no place to get lost, as the Universe is all there is. And one thing you’ll recognize by the time you finish reading this book is that time and distance only exist in the physical world—not in the afterlife. So all spirits return to the spirit world upon exiting the physical body effortlessly and without exception.
You mentioned ego the ego expiring with the body. What happens to our ego when we cross over to the spirit world?
My investigations lead me to conclude that our ego is a physical characteristic of the human psyche, which therefore does not carry over into spirit, meaning it does not control (influence) our thinking any longer. That said, spirits are fully aware of their human ego from the life that just ended and will present themselves to a medium as coming from ego in order to be recognizable as their human self in that lifetime—usually for the sake of family or friends who are getting a reading. This is why a medium would recognize ego in their contact with spirits, because they are always connecting with the spirit of a human being who had an ego. It doesn’t mean the spirit has an ego; it means that spirit is projecting himself with ego in order to be recognizable during the reading.
Furthermore, our ego influences our personality differently in every human lifetime. So, for example, I’ve had past-life regressions where my ego acted completely differently from one lifetime to other lifetimes. If we were to continue being influenced by ego as spirits, which ego would we choose from which lifetime? Would I have the ego of George from my lifetime in the 16th century, Pamela from my lifetime in the 18th century, or Bob from this lifetime? Thus, once again, it makes practical sense that we “remember” our ego from each lifetime, but we do not take it with us to the spiritual world.
If there are no earthbound spirits (ghosts), does that mean my loved ones in spirit don’t visit me on earth?
There is a big difference between the idea of spirits visiting us on earth and the idea of spirits being earth-bound. We have lots of evidence from after-death communications (signs and signals from spirit) and readings with mediums that our loved ones visit us here, guide us in our life, and are present in our earthly existence in a multitude of ways. Yet, as explained above, I’ve seen no evidence that people in spirit are uncontrollably bound to the physical plane for any reason with no ability or even desire to go into the light. So I’ve seen a great deal of evidence that our loved ones in spirit are present at those important days in our lives, such as weddings, graduations and births. But this is a very different concept than them being stuck here.
I also want to be cautious in using the word “visit.” Our loved ones in spirit don’t actually have to make a trip here to visit us. They exist in a dimension where distance does not exist. It’s more accurate to think of them existing all around us than to think of them as being in some distant location. Since distance is not a concept that constrains our loved ones in spirit, all they need to do is think of us and they are with us or, at the very least, fully aware of what’s happening in our lives. I’ll explain this more in the next question.
What happens in a sudden, unexpected death like an automobile accident or murder? Do some people who die suddenly or unexpectedly not know they are dead?
Deaths resulting from accidents and murders can certainly come unexpectedly. And I understand why people might be concerned that the death was so sudden that the person’s spirit might not realize he is dead. The bottom line is that it really doesn’t matter whether or not the person in spirit knows they’re dead or not. Either way, without any need for their willingness or effort, their spirit is going to gravitate back to the spiritual dimension (the afterlife).
Too many people think the spirit world is up in the sky or in some mysterious place far, far away from here. But the spirit world is here, not some place far, far away. We’re talking about a dimension, not a place. There are plenty of physical things on earth that we can’t see with the naked eye, such as electricity and radio waves, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist among us. The same is true for the spiritual realm. People in spirit are vibrating at such a high frequency that we can’t see or hear them in the way we normally conduct ourselves. Nonetheless, spirits are all around us. They are among us. They exist in the same space that we exist, but at a higher frequency.
I’ve always been amused by the claim that some people in spirit don’t know they’re dead. How could you not know you’re dead? For one, you’ve probably seen your dead body in front of you. You’ll even see it being carried off to the morgue or funeral home if you wait long enough. That alone is a clear indication.
Two, there are crowds of spirits welcoming you back home. In some cases, this begins even before you die (known as a deathbed vision). If I saw my deceased father standing before me with a welcome home sign, that would probably be enough to realize I’m dead.
Three, it’s got to make you wonder when nobody in the physical realm is acknowledging you. You move and nobody sees you. You yell and nobody hears you. You can’t touch or move anything. You can’t eat or drink anything. Heck, people are even walking right through you. With all these clues, including your deceased loved ones standing before you telling you that you’re dead and welcoming you home, how long do you think it would take before you figured out you’re dead?
If some person, movie or book got you worried that your loved one who died a sudden death might not know she’s dead—and might therefore be stuck in limbo somewhere—put your mind at ease. While there are people who believe in earth-bound spirits, I’ve never seen any evidence of it, not in hundreds of readings with psychic mediums, not in testimonials by near-death experiencers, not in past-life regressions or life-between-lives regressions, not in any related experience or exploration I’ve ever encountered. Not once have I witnessed a reading with a legitimately gifted psychic medium where a person in spirit communicated that they or someone they know is lost in limbo or doesn’t know they’re dead. I’ve seen no evidence anywhere that earthbound spirits really exist, not even circumstantial evidence.
This is not to say that there aren’t mediums in the world who like to claim that they’re communicating with ghosts in haunted places. But I contend that they are merely making contact with people in spirit—not earthbound spirits. It’s easy to mistakenly interpret a spirit as a ghost if you believe in ghosts.
So where did this idea of “spirits who don’t know their dead” come from? There are all sorts of imaginative people out there. We wouldn’t have such great novels and movies if there weren’t. And all it takes is for one person to begin spreading their fictitious speculation—say, a psychic medium with an overactive imagination—and before you know it the bogus theory is being passed along for hundreds of years.
Personally, I’m wary about accepting folklore that requires us to avert from the evidence. All evidence shows that our spirits return to the spiritual dimension as soon as we leave our bodies. It’s instant. It’s automatic. There’s no way to screw it up.
Furthermore, we as human beings are very suggestive. So if one person makes a claim, others are sure to follow. Near-death experience expert, author and researcher P. M. H. Atwater wrote in her tell-all book, Near-Death Experiences: The Rest Of The Story, that her early research of near-death experiences never showed any evidence of people going through a tunnel in their near-death experience. Then, after Dr. Raymond Moody came out with a New York Times bestselling book that talked about the tunnel experience, lots of people began to talk about a tunnel experience when she interviewed them after they died and came back to life. Why the sudden change in her research? Because this tunnel idea became so well known among the public due to Moody’s bestselling book that people now felt they needed to include a tunnel as part of their story in order to be believed in the telling of their near-death experience.
The same is true for earthbound spirits. Once someone of prominence spoke or wrote about it, perhaps in the 1800s, now generations of people—many mediums included—believed in the theory and now interpret their experiences with this paradigm in their mind. Before you know it, few people ever question it and we have mediums and others metaphysical teachers teaching it to their students, who then teach it to their students and so on.
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Afterlife TV is presented by Afterlife Investigator & Psychic Medium Researcher Bob Olson, who is the author of Answers about the Afterlife: A Private Investigator’s 15-Year Research Unlocks the Mysteries of Life after Death.
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