Most people don’t know that there are visible ghosts, along with the invisible ones that get the lion’s share of attention. People misplace their fright when they spend too much time worrying about the invisible ones, because it is the visible ghosts that cause the greatest disturbances in the physical world. An invisible ghost can’t mug you in an alley or run you over with a car.
All ghosts, visible and invisible, fall into one of three categories. There are hungry ghosts, awakened ghosts, and enlightened ghosts.
The idea of a hungry ghost comes from Buddhism. They have throats like a needle and stomachs like an ocean, so they can never be satisfied. No matter how much they consume it is never enough. They are confined to the Lower Plane, and spend their entire existence attempting to appease their insatiable appetites. You can compare them with vampires or zombies, creatures whose human core has been replaced by malevolent cravings.
The only hope for a hungry ghost lies in an intervention, and, or, a spiritual awakening. If this doesn’t occur, they will never escape the endless cycle of addiction, and when they die, will continue on as hungry ghosts in the spiritual realm, haunting cemeteries and dumps on the outskirts of cities, and feeding on corpses and feces.
Awakened ghosts are hungry ghosts that have somehow arrived at the gates of the Middle Plane, and become aware of their condition. Unlike hungry ghosts, where there is no separation between thought and action, craving and binge, awakened ghosts come to realize that control is an option. They often find strength in a Higher Power if they seek it, and create communities where they can fight their addictions together.
Awakened ghosts stand a good chance of regaining their humanity if they are diligent about their recovery, and are even capable of attaining enlightenment if they continue making spiritual growth. It will be a hard fall if they return to the Lower Plane, however, and the situation for those who do, has been described as a living hell.
Enlightened ghosts occupy the Higher Realm of both the physical and spiritual worlds, one often referred to as The Land of the Midnight Cure. Those who have achieved this exulted awareness have either managed to transcend the pain of life or have learned how to respond to it in a manner that creates no further distress.
You hear stories about enlightened ghosts from history and legend, but rarely meet one in person. In Buddhism there also exists the concept of Bodhisattvas, enlightened beings who postpone their own nirvana to help other suffering beings. It’s entirely possible that there’s a few of those out running around.
If you ever meet someone claiming to be an enlightened ghost, however, be wary. What you’re likely to eventually uncover are the ulterior motives that separate the charlatans from the saints.