Do you believe in haunted houses and ghosts? How about haunted airplanes? If you believe in the existence of the soul and the spirit, the question you ask, as Zen masters do, will most probably be “How real is this material world we live in?”
One of the most-publicised haunting stories was that of Eastern Airlines Flight 401 that went down over Florida Everglades on December 29, 1972. Cause of the crash was the malfunctioning of the L1011 jumbo jet’s autopilot. The two pilots and navigator had placed the aircraft on autopilot and were busy looking for why a panel light had malfunctioned when the plane crashed. Some passengers died, while most survived in the swamp. Captain Robert Loft was reportedly so stricken with grief that he died en route to the hospital although his injuries weren’t serious.
After the plane’s wreckage was salvaged and its parts used on other Eastern Airlines aircraft, there started a series of haunting reports that went on for a number of years. Passengers and crew told stories of seeing Captain Loft and other deceased crew members during flight. Investigators discovered that the stories were related to aircraft where Flight 401’s parts had been used for spare. One of these told of how Captain Loft had once appeared in the cockpit to help the crew navigate through turbulent weather.
The historic Banff Springs Hotel is reported to be one of the most haunted establishments in Canada. Another one was the famous “Hy’s Mansion Steak House” on Davie Street in Vancouver where some of my friends reported seeing levitating cutlery and strange-looking waiters that seemed to have popped up from nowhere. This is probably one of Vancouver's best-kept secrets since most patrons talk about it, but it doesn't receive much publicity.
I’ve had my own share of the paranormal.
I was staying in a motel across the Seattle-Tacoma Airport with my brother when an apparition of a man hovered over my bed during the night when I was just about to fall asleep. I was going through an especially difficult time at that time and reading “Seth Speaks” by Jane Roberts, a medium channelling an entity called Seth. The man looked like how she depicted Seth in her book. He said “Don’t worry, it won’t take much longer” when my brother screamed and jumped out of bed. He told me he was wide awake when he saw what appeared to be a glowing skeleton hovering over my bed. He was so scared that we kept the lights on all night. In the morning we discovered that there was a graveyard behind the motel.
One of my unsolved mysteries is the “intelligent elevators” in my old office building at 1155 West Georgia, Vancouver. I loved that old building where I could open the windows and I often worked long hours into the night. I just couldn’t figure out why the elevator doors opened for me or the elevator would suddenly come all the way to the third floor to greet me when I started down the corridor, since the old elevators weren’t supposed to do that. When I asked George The Greek, the caretaker, he laughed and said “It’s the ghosts.” George’s family and most of his village had been executed during the Nazi occupation. Having worked there 25 years, George was a permanent fixture of the building. When they kicked out the tenants and George to turn it into a club, the company that bought the building went bankrupt after sinking millions into the project. Other buyers and projects have apparently met a similar fate. For some reason one of the most valuable properties in Downtown Vancouver has been in ruins and undeveloped for the past 18 years.
One of the glimpses into the spiritual world may be provided by none other than digital photography. For the past ten years some people have been studying Orbs, a phenomenon unearthed by digital cameras. These are globular objects of various sizes and colours that defy physical laws and seem to have an intelligence of their own. According to RSE, a school that studies paranormal phenomena in Yelm, Washington, most orbs are the manifestation of discarnate entities waiting to be born. The photography works best with older and simpler digital cameras.
If you think spirits are a fantasy created for children to enjoy at Halloween, think again. You may not be alone in the privacy of your home tonight, and you may be sharing the same space with curious entities that you don’t see but who see you very well.
It may be comforting to know, or maybe not, as Carlos Castaneda’s Mexican sorcerer Don Juan said, “There’s no reason to fear the spiritual world. It’s other humans who are the biggest danger to your survival.”