The years Mae Chee Kaew spent living at Phu Gao Mountain were a fruitful time for her meditation practice. With each new foray into the invisible world of sentient spirits, she gained increased expertise in the realms of nonphysical existence. With Ajaan Khamphan’s assistance, she strengthened her ability to explore varieties of phenomena within the many lowly but subtle nonhuman states of existence that lay beyond the range of normal human perception. These experiences were so many, and varied, that she never tired of exploring the spiritual universe.

To her surprise, she discovered that some types of ghosts live in organized communities just as humans do. Contrasting sharply with the vagrant variety, these communities are governed by a leader, who supervises social activities and endeavors to keep peace. Due to the untimely fruition of previous bad kamma, some beings, having accumulated a wealth of virtue, are nonetheless reborn into the realm of ghosts.

Because their virtuous characters remain, they are able to exercise great moral authority, garnering respect from their peers, who because of their own spiritual poverty, stand in awe of those possessing moral power and authority. In the ghost communities, Mae Chee Kaew found proof that the fruits of goodness were always more powerful than the effects of evil. By the power of virtue alone, one individual is capable of governing a large community.

Mae Chee Kaew also found that the ghost communities were not segregated into groups or castes. Instead, their social hierarchy adhered strictly to the order dictated by the specific consequences of each ghost’s kamma, making it impossible for them to hold the kind of prejudices that people do. The nature of their ghostly existence, and their social status relative to one another, was always the appropriate retribution for their past misdeeds.

Occasionally, the chief ghost guided Mae Chee Kaew on a tour of his domain and described the living conditions of different types of ghosts. She was informed that the ghost world has its share of hooligans, too. Bad characters, who cause caused disturbances, were rounded up and imprisoned in an enclosure that humans would call a “jail.” He emphasized that the imprisoned ghosts were mean-hearted types, who had unduly disturbed the peace of others and were sentenced and jailed according to the severity of their offenses. Those who behaved well lived normal lives as far as their kamma allowed. The chief ghost reminded her that the word “ghost” is a designation given by humans.

Ghosts were actually just one type of conscious life form among many others in the universe that exists according to its own karmic conditions.

This reflection by Bhikkhu Dick Sīlaratano about Mae Chee Kaew is from the book Mae Chee Kaew, (pdf) pp. 111-112, Compiled from Thai sources & written by Bhikkhu Dick Sīlaratano.