You asked: I have several friends who claim that they can see ghosts of deceased people. Is it possible that souls do not go straight to mansion worlds, but they stay here for awhile, as reincarnation isn't possible?"
Thanks so much for your interesting question to us here at www.TruthBook.com
I am afraid that there is not much I can tell you to answer your question, insofar as Urantia Book teachings.
We are clearly told:
112:3.7Upon death the Thought Adjuster temporarily loses personality, but not identity; the human subject temporarily loses identity, but not personality; on the mansion worlds both reunite in eternal manifestation. Never does a departed Thought Adjuster return to earth as the being of former indwelling; never is personality manifested without the human will; and never does a dis-Adjustered human being after death manifest active identity or in any manner establish communication with the living beings of earth. Such dis-Adjustered souls are wholly and absolutely unconscious during the long or short sleep of death. There can be no exhibition of any sort of personality or ability to engage in communications with other personalities until after completion of survival. Those who go to the mansion worlds are not permitted to send messages back to their loved ones. It is the policy throughout the universes to forbid such communication during the period of a current dispensation.
Now, ghostly sightings have been happening to people for time out of mind. This is a subject that has been the focus of speculation for as long as man has been conscious of himself, I would think.
So, what is that all about? I think the question you posed: "Is it possible that souls do not go straight to mansion worlds, but they stay here for awhile, as reincarnation isn't possible?" is a reasonable one. In the Urantia Book quote above, we are not given a time-frame for when the soul leaves this mortal plane; however, we are clearly told:
"...never does a dis-Adjustered human being after death manifest active identity or in any manner establish communication with the living beings of earth..."
In the ghostly manifestations that I have read about, there is often just an amorphous image of the departed, or someone can sense a presence of that departed being. Is there something like an energy imprint that lingers after death? An imprint that seems to materialize into the form of a person?
Well, I don't know ... I've never heard of any really serious scientific research done about this, but those in the "paranormal" field have done some serious thinking about it. THIS ARTICLE is pretty interesting, and contains this intriguing quote:
"According to this hypothesis [Stone Tape], ghosts are not spirits but simply non-interactive recordings similar to a movie. Paranormal investigators commonly consider such phenomena as residual hauntings."
In light of this research, I think it is possible that there may be some kind of energy manifestation, but not in any kind of personal way. To believe that this is the actual personality, or the soul of a departed person does not hold water, in light of Urantia Book teachings.
I found this Urantia Book quote that I find pretty interesting in this regard:
16:9.1The cosmic-mind-endowed, Adjuster-indwelt, personal creature possesses innate recognition-realization of energy reality, mind reality, and spirit reality. The will creature is thus equipped to discern the fact, the law, and the love of God. Aside from these three inalienables of human consciousness, all human experience is really subjective except that intuitive realization of validity attaches to the unification of these three universe reality responses of cosmic recognition.
In the case of "seeing" deceased persons, this seems to me to be a purely subjective experience. It's not something that can be reproduced for others. It seems something that is sensed by relatively few.
Thinking about the quote above, could these experiences of ghostly sightings be simply a "recognition-realization of energy reality"?
Well, that's a lot of speculation. Anyone can read that passage and speculate on its meaning; I want you to be aware that is IS simple speculation on my part. I interpreted the Urantia Book passage above in order to "think out loud." Is that speculation correct? Maybe it is, but maybe it isn't; in the end, that last sentence does tell us that most of our experience is pretty subjective, but if we can unify our experiences - join energy, mind and spirit realities so that we experience an "intuitive realization of validity," then maybe we have something worthwhile. For the individual, experiencing these kinds of phenomena might hopefully bring spiritual comfort. If it does not, then I would have to assume that there is something going on that should be avoided.
Never having had such experiences myself, I find these sightings unusual, to say the least; however, they are often the experiences of people who we would otherwise consider sane. And so, I think they deserve some kind of consideration. This reply is my attempt to give that consideration, but it is not to be considered a final answer, or final truth about the matter.
In the end, I think that there are things that go on in our universe that we cannot explain; this doesn't mean that they are not real, but it does mean that they might just have to remain unexplained. We have to trust God, pray to God, and have faith that his will for us is only goodness, and especially that the departed are safely launched on their eternal journey, and not fated to come back to this planet over and over - even if it might mean comfort for those who are bereaved.
The job of the living is to live; to have a living and vital relationship with God, to serve others in our daily life. Overmuch emphasis on these kinds of sightings and trying to explain them can be diverting from these tasks.
Thanks again for the question; I hope that this reply has been helpful.