I wish that some of the folks who are reading the article about my method, would read this entry, because I'm about to delve more deeply into its specific application. One of the things which can be clearly discerned through it--and hence, could be studied in more detail, and more depth--is the distinction between personal identity, and mind. Now, I have a theoretical background for this. My Guru, Meher Baba, indicates that what he calls the "mental body" persists, largely unchanged, for several incarnations. If I was writing a scholarly paper, here, I would have to stop to quote and cite it--perhaps I'll insert it later, if I can find it. But there is a theoretical framework guiding my thoughts, just to be candid about it. I am not jamming my results into that framework--it is more, one might say, gently guiding the way I'm putting this together.
Here, on re-read, is not precisely the quote I was remembering, but it may actually be even more on-target. This is from Meher Baba's "Discourses," Vol. III, the chapter on "Reincarnation and Karma," Part VI:
The soul, which in reality is one and undifferentiated, is apparently individualised through the limitations of the mental body which is the seat of the ego-mind. The ego-mind is formed by the accumulated impressions of past experiences and actions; and it is this ego-mind which constitutes the kernel of the existence of the reincarnating individual. The ego-mind, as a reservoir of latent impressions, is the state of the mental body. The ego-mind, becoming spirit and experiencing activated and manifested impressions, is the state of the subtle body. The ego-mind, as descended in the gross sphere for creative action, is the state of a physical incarnation. Thus the ego-mind, which is seated in the mental body, is the entity which has all the phases of continued existence as a separate individual.
Elsewhere, Baba explains that not all the impressions stored in the mental body can be released for expression in a given incarnation. It is, rather, a subset which is so-released, and becomes the individual.
There are parallels within a single lifetime. Suppose you are in your 60's, as I am, and while cleaning house, you stumble across your college diary. Are you the same person, or not? Your situation was very different. You were, perhaps, hopeful for the future; you felt, subjectively, as though you would live forever. "Normal adults" were people your own age--people in their 60's were "old people." You were surrounded by such-and-such friends; you had certain interests, and concerns. Your parents were still alive, and middle-aged, and you reminded yourself to dutifully call them. There was, perhaps, a guy, or a girl, you had noticed recently. You had a test coming up. You needed a course that might not be offered next semester. You had friends that were getting into a fast crowd, and you were concerned for them. Was your Dad right that majoring in anthropology wasn't really practical? What right did he have to hold it over you, just because he was footing the bill for your education? It was your decision, after all, how to plan your life.
You smile as you read these entries--it is you, and yet, it isn't, anymore... And how poignant to see how it all actually turned out. You married that guy, or girl, you had just then noticed. You spent 40 richly rewarding years with her, and she just died two years ago this August. You actually did become an anthropologist, and both of you worked together in some of the most amazing places in the world. You always lived modestly, but you wouldn't have had it any other way. You are now having the same discussion with some of your students' parents, as you once had with your own father, who passed on several years ago.
You are hardly the same person as you were, then, and yet...not so different, after all. It is the same mind, but practically a different person. How can that be?
My experience of discovering a past life, and delving into it as deeply as I have, is very similar. It is, in fact, an extension of the above scenario. In that example, you had the same childhood; you lived in the same century, with its given assumptions and attitudes. You had the same body--or at least, given that most of the body's cells are said to recycle every seven years, as I understand, at least you identify it as being the same body. You had the same name, and essentially the same identity.
In my case, all of these things were different--and yet, it is clearly the same mind. I can just see the piece of "macro" software firing off, so quickly that you don't recognize it's a canned reaction, as soon as I assert this. The macro goes something like:
That's impossible as stated, because a person is their physical body. Therefore, to translate, what he means is that he has identified with a historical person who reminds him of himself, and he is deluded into thinking he had the same mind.
It's so fast. But I'll bet if you became proficient in meditation, so that you could slow your mind down enough to see your thoughts arise one-by-one, you would see this macro launching the instant my assertion was presented to you.
It's canned. And believe it or not, it probably didn't originate with you, nor with any reasoned thought-process. It was inserted into your mind by Society, i.e., by a representative of one of Society's institutions. You just swallowed it, whole. It is now reinforced every time you watch the news, or NOVA.
Anyway, I'm being strictly rigorous and honest with this. I have proven, by objective standards, that this is a genuine past-life match. With that question taken care of, I can now report my subjective impressions of, say, encountering a work published by my past-life personality. In what sense is that my personality--and in what sense is that my mind, behind that personality?
This question could be studied using my method. Dr. Ian Stevenson's method is designed primarily for one thing--to establish that reincarnation is an actual phenomenon. But it is not so much geared to address these nuances. My method is the next step in reincarnation research.
Without going into details, my conclusion is that there are elements of Mathew's personality remaining within my own. These are precisely those things which I am inclined to say that I "always liked" or "always disliked." They are also the things which manifested most strongly in my adolescence. My personality, as an adolescent, was much more like Mathew Franklin Whittier than my adult personality is. I was sarcastic, I loved puns, and so-on. I could go on and on with that. I didn't have all of his talents--but where I lacked them, I felt the lack of them sorely. I had terrible handwriting, for example, but I longed to have the kind of handwriting it turned out that Mathew had. I had writer's block, but I had the urge to write, along with the conviction that I could write.
Even in adulthood, there are elements of Mathew's life which poke through, as it were. But this is very difficult to convey. When immersing myself in his writing--especially, his travelogues, which amount to a published diary--I can feel what it was to be that person. It is me--in a sense, it is me with flaws I have since mitigated. It is me with that background, that life experience. A New-Englander of the 19th century.
I'm at a loss to adequately convey this. Let's try it this way. To my right, is a model of a New England dory (which I initially tried to spell "dorrie"), about a foot long. This is the typical rowboat of the region. I feel I have always loved them, though in this life I have never actually seen one, no less rowed one. The feeling immediately strikes me, unbidden from some depth in my mind, "The only thing more beautiful than the lines of a dory, are the lines of a woman."
For that instant, when I look at that model, I am reacting, with my feelings and my deep mind, as Mathew.
There are hundreds of these things in me. Things I have "always felt." These are the lingering remnants of my past personality, coming up through my present-day identity as Stephen, who grew up in Miami of the 20th century, went to college in Tallahassee, lived and worked for some years in Atlanta, and has ended up in Myrtle Beach, SC. The aspiring science fiction author, who had the idea to be a psychologist, and then a social worker, and then a counselor (because my idea of those fields did not mesh with Society's reality), who fell into typing because I was a fast typist, which then became typesetting because I answered an ad, which then became video production because I found I had a natural talent for photography, which now has come full-circle to being an author. From the worldly point of view, I failed at every one of those endeavors. And this is so Mathew...
Mathew failed because he was so far ahead of his time, and I have followed the same pattern. I am, thus, a different person, and yet, the same person in many respects. Same ball, just dropped on a different surface. Bounced pretty-much the same way.
But that's the personality. It persists, alright, to about the degree one would expect it to. But then there is the mind. My observation, from studying Mathew's writing, is that Meher Baba had it exactly right. The mind, itself, hardly changes from incarnation to incarnation. It does change, but much more slowly. So my mind, and Mathew's mind, is essentially identical. In that sense, it is the same person talking to you right now.
This is something that can be seen and experienced subjectively, but it is very difficult to prove objectively. You could get a sense of it, by comparing Mathew's travelogues, say, with this blog, which goes back several years before I even learned of Mathew. If you tried to quantify this, by comparing colloquialisms, turns of phrase, language structure, etc., I think you would be measuring the degree to which the personality has carried over, not the mind, itself.
The point is, my method provides a new window into these things. They can now be gauged, at least to some extent. I don't mean just from my study--I mean, from the hundreds of such studies which will be done in the future.
Does this have any practical applications? You betcha. I'm seeing all kinds of applications, say, in psychotherapy, and the psychotherapy of the future will incorporate past-life therapy. Some mental illnesses, say, the character disorders, go deeper than just one or two lifetimes. They are at the level of the mind--and one might have to go very far back to find the root of the problem. Just suppose, someone is sociopathic. Deep, deep down, from a lifetime a long, long time ago, there must be a pithy resolution: "No-one will look after me, they will all betray me; so I must look out for myself." This is so deeply embedded, it is at the level of the mind, itself, and persists through any number of incarnations and their proximal personalities.
I'm not saying this theory is the correct one. I'm saying, this is the kind of theory which could be generated, once my method was accepted and applied.
Of course, I will not be getting a Nobel prize for this. Or if I do, I will be so old, I will come tottering down the aisle, stand with assistance at the mic, and, drooling on it a little, mumble something unintelligible, at which there will be thundering applause!*
Too late to pay the rent. Oh, that reminds me of something Mathew wrote, in his travelogue, while in Europe. Let me see if I can find it, and if so, I'll end with it...
From Glasgow we return down the Clyde to Dunglass Rock, on which is erected a fine obelisk pillar to the memory of Henry Bell, who first introduced steam navigation in Europe. It seems that about the year 1796, James Watt, who was born at the mouth of the Clyde, succeeded in applying steam-power to machinery in Glasgow, but all attempts to apply it to navigation proved unavailing, until 1812, when it was accomplished by Henry Bell, who constructed a steamboat, which, according to history, "sailed five miles an hour, against head wind." Bell offered his new method of steam application to the government three different times, but it was looked upon with the most freezing coldness, and rejected as utterly useless. Bell died, unappreciated, in 1830, with cold poverty staring him in the face; but after his death, the public, as usual in such cases, awoke to the convention of the goodness and genius of the departed, and erected to his memory a magnificent obelisk pillar. If Bell could have been informed previous to his death of the honor which awaited him after, and the amount of money to be expended in the erection of a monument, we wonder if his stomach would have been relieved from the pangs of hunger by the contemplation of future glory? We throw out these hints, so that if there are any persons having contributions for an obelisk for us, they will send in the change as soon as possible.
Stephen Sakellarios, M.S.
*The skeptical reader may have the thought, "Oh, he created his future scenario to match the one in the historical travelogue, so as to make it appear that his mind works similarly." Actually, I am re-using it, having originally written it in my Update of February 13, 2008; and then again on October 25, 2012. I obtained the bound volume containing the travelogue on April 16, 2015. From this you can see that I have kept careful records of the dates when each discovery was made. The 2008 blog is a little less than three years after I first discovered Mathew, and about a year before I began researching the case in earnest. Incidentally, Mathew also used to re-use his material in a similar fashion, and at similar intervals.
Music opening this page: "Brilliant Room" by Eric Johnson, from the album "Up Close"