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From nonphysical perspective, which is eternal united consciousness, source (what we are) projects forth thought. When that thought is focused on with enough intent, and thus has enough energy flowing to it, it becomes thought form. When thought form is focused on with enough intent, it becomes physical form.
You are not your body. Separate of your body, you have a concept of you, a concept that you keep adding and adding to throughout your life. When this concept of you is imbued with enough energy, it can materialize and take on physical attributes. Many cultures call this materialized thought that is not yet a physical being, but that takes on physical attributes a "tulpa". When someone dies, their "concept self" sometimes has enough energy running through it that it can actually become a tulpa (that is it can take on shape and sometimes still manipulate the physical dimension which is what we see in the case of hauntings and full blown poltergeists). Often it only has enough energy to sort of surge into the physical dimension. Which is why ghosts are often seen in a kind of a loop. Meaning they can feed one projection into the physical over and over such as walking down a specific hallway or appearing in one specific window or crying in one room of a house.
They are not malicious, it is just that when they are looking to interact, they will gravitate towards energy sources such as electric currents, cell phone currents, crystals or people who can perceive them so as to be able to interact with the physical dimension and finish the business they are hell bent on finishing or express the message they are hell bent on expressing.
Often our concept selves are particularly attached to a person or place. This attachment and identification is what we use to preserve our concept (our eternal selves are not concerned with preservation because we are eternal but our identities are temporary, so they are concerned with survival). Identifying with things is part of what keeps our identity intact and for our identity (the thought of us that exists separate of the physical us) this identification continues after death. This is why ghosts often attach themselves to one place or person or thing of personal importance. Such as a person's favorite spot, the spot where they died or a child's favorite toy. And that person place or thing that they've attached themselves to, is often the person place or thing that these surges into physical existence are carried out upon. This is when we say that a place, person or object is haunted.
When we die, we instantly withdraw our consciousness not only from our physical form but also from the thought of our identity (tulpa). But every thought that has ever been thought still exists and thoughts...think. You in this physical body are essentially a thought that thinks and so, even though you withdraw from your own tulpa, it can continue to project forth thoughts and actions for a time. This is especially true when the person who died, died with an immense desire to preserve their own identity such as during a murder or when we have a sense of needing to be here for someone who we are leaving behind. This imbues the thought form with enough energy that even though it is no longer being fed by a stream of source consciousness, it can still "exist and interact with the physical dimension".
It is important to realize that any time you resist a ghost, you feed its energy. This is why it is so important to do house clearings and communicate with tulpas from a very strong very high vibrational set point. Or to elicit someone who can do this for us. If you feel a lot of fear, interacting with the tulpa will not be successful. You're more likely to fuel its already bothersome interactions rather than help to dissipate it.
Kuan Yin's Mantra (c) 2002 Lisa Thiel - used by permission http://www.sacreddream.com