"All children can," she claims.
She works with these spirits to help them make peace with what keeps them here. Often that means strong attachments to people they can not let go of, homes they love, lives they thought would last a bit longer, and even treasured recipes.
Some spirits (humans reborn as pretas in subtle bodies on planes such as the Realm of Hungry Ghosts) did not cross over for one reason or another. Some they felt guilty for unfinished business, even for so simple a thing as never properly passing on their recipes.
The Realm of Hungry Ghosts artistically rendered on a thangka segment (about.com).
This is the remarkable claim of author and real-life ghost buster Mary Ann Winkowski, who has been clearing houses of ghosts and working to free people of malevolent influences for over 30 years. And with a new cookbook of ghost recipes, she is not kidding. This is yet another of the hidden dangers of attachment and clinging.
- Ghosts are real? Yes. Ghosts are not immortal. Spirits are not "souls." Life survives death. And all beings go on to be reborn -- except for those rare noble ones who have overcome all suffering in the round of rebirth by awakening (enlightenment). A ghost, apparition, "unclean" spirit, haunt, haint, poltergeist, or lower invisible being is someone reborn into an unfortunate state of deprivation. Lifespans can be very, very long, but they are not eternal, so often in the West we call them the "damned." The same is true of denizens of hells (narakas) and beings with enough merit to be powerful monsters (nagas) and "demons" (maras, yakkhas, asuras) rather than tortured victims. Eastern ideas should not be confounded with Western (JudeoChristian) assumptions when English words are used to approximate many different terms.
Silly book ideas aside, Winkowski warns that there are also scary earthbound spirits who can come into homes through energy openings called portals. These cannot be opened by the dead, only by the living, quite often unintentionally such as through trauma. Unlike ordinary ghosts (pretas) who use doorways (even closed ones) to enter dwellings, spirits who come through portals typically come with bad attitudes and can cause many problems.
Recipes from the Dead
The Realm of Ghosts is varied, just as all 31 Planes of Existence are. Apart from general themes, such as nudity or insatiable neediness, they may be portrayed in many ways. One ghost was elevated to a mango and pond paradise due to a transfer of merit from his daughter, as related in the Petavatthu (blog.dwbuk org).
She has found in her experience that in life they were likely victims of murder or suicide, drug addicts, prisoners, pedophiles, or rapists. The one positive thing with such spirits is that they can only stay for a day or two, Winkowski has found.
Portals are actually blown open by the living, and any house where a murder or suicide has taken place probably has one. Winkowski recommended smudging with sage to keep portal spirits at bay.
The worst place for becoming possessed or coming under the influence of occupying spirits, who crave a human body with which to experience the world again, is the operating room and dentist's office. This is because this is where people are frequently made unconscious. And while the lights are out and the defenses down, these spirits attach like parasites. They know where to find victims.
Winkowski (beginning at Minute 9) on Coast to Coast in 2011
Their goal is selfish more than "evil." But possession only harms individuals who lose energy and life to animate being without the merit (profitable karma) to come into the human world by their own means. As bad as this world seems, it is very desirable.
In Buddhist cosmology, it is the lowest of those worlds regarded as "fortunate" planes of rebirth. So it is indeed bad here but relatively very good, for from here one can go anywhere else and even make an end of suffering altogether.
Winkowski suggests that those interested in getting a special recipe from a departed loved one can ask for it the next time they dream about that person, rather than waiting for a night visit. She has now compiled a cookbook of recipes from the dead: Beyond Delicious.
She claims spirits began giving her recipes from the other side about 30 years ago as she was clearing the house of a baker who made rolls.
A ghost in the home told her, "They may smell good, but they are terrible." In another case, Winkowski recalled a homeowner lamenting that her aunt passed away before sharing a recipe for gum drop cookies.
A ghost in that house offered to summon the departed aunt so she could give her living niece the recipe. Male ghosts are even more insistent about passing on their recipes for barbecue, she claims.
- When Ghosts Speak is Winkowski's earlier story of growing up with psychic abilities, sharing tips on how to recognize when we are not alone and what to do in the presence of a ghost