In The Great Divorce, C.S. Lewis’ prolonged psychedelic trip about the afterlife, the protagonist finds himself on a bus holiday outing to Heaven. At first it is unclear whether the departure point is a particularly dreary corner of the North, Purgatory or Hell itself. It turns out it was Hell. And the quarrelsome day trippers turn out to be ghosts.
Ghosts come in many shapes and sizes. There are nasty ghosts, moany ghosts, hungry ghosts, ignorant ghosts, deluded ghosts and superior ghosts. In other words, all six types you would expect to find on the Wheel of Samsara. They are ghosts because they have failed to fully materialize. They are not quite up to the standard of reality. Which is why the grass in Heaven hurts their feet: it’s too real for them.
People lost on the Wheel are basically ghosts. Sometimes they seem like zombies, vampires, werewolves, dolls or puppets, but they’re basically ghosts. They’re neither fully dead, nor fully alive. They’re what the Ancient Egyptians called mut, the “living dead”.
Spirits, on the other hand, have made the quantum leap from the Wheel of Samsara to the Orthodox Cross. They have begun the process of becoming mystics, shamans, warriors, monks or nuns, philosophers and kings (or queens). These human archetypes point to different dimensions of the human encounter with reality. They have begun the process of becoming real.
Spirits have spirit.They have spiritual discernment and spiritual practices. But they are not fully realized or enlightened. They have not mastered themselves completely. They have not completely surrendered. They may be saints, but they are not yet angels.
Compared to ghosts, and even spirits, angels are infinitely holy, virtuous and wise. They are pure vessels of divine consciousness. It’s not often you meet an angel, if ever. And if you do, the chances are you won’t recognize them. Only advanced spirits have developed the eyes to see.
Do you believe in angels? Unless you believe in ghosts, you won’t believe in angels. But then, how do you know that you’re not a ghost, if you don’t believe in them?