You may know that personal patterns tend to repeat from one lifetime to another. This will be a cornerstone of the psychology of the future. Not long after waking up, this morning, one just popped into my head. If you have been reading the last couple of entries, you may have caught it before I did. Now, this is not intended to be personal--it's just grist for the mill. The reason I make that disclaimer will be apparent, shortly.
I have explained my relationship--or that might be a bit grandiose, so we will say interaction--with the foremost reincarnation researcher in the world, Dr. Jim Tucker, successor to the late Dr. Ian Stevenson. I don't wish to take anything away from either of these men--they are both pioneers in a cutting-edge field.
The tenor of that relationship is that I helped them, inasmuch as it was in my power, through my video production expertise. I showcased Dr. Stevenson's work in my independent documentary, "In Another Life: Reincarnation in America," which has been seen (in its viral versions) by over half a million people at this point. That film was broadcast only once, on a PBS affiliate in Denver, but it was offered to colleges and universities (as it is, today) by Films Media Group.
Then, in 2007, on my own meagre dime, I drove to the University of Virginia and videotaped an extended interview with Dr. Tucker, for my website. That interview, sans attribution, also went viral. Let me see if I can find it, and get a sense of how often that has been viewed online...
Well, Dr. Tucker has a fairly robust online media presence, now. He didn't in 2007. At that time, there were only sound-bites. The man was never allowed to address his topic fully. I believe I was the first to make sure he had the opportunity. But my interview is still there amongst the others. One source indicates 46,000 views; another, 41,000; the third has only 147, having been posted a year ago, but the fourth, which appears to have been posted in Germany, shows 56,000. That's all I'm seeing, so let's tally them up--143,147.
I should be clear that this doesn't obligate Dr. Tucker in any way. I did it to advance the field as a whole. I'm building a case for past-life patterns repeating, here.
I continued to assist Dr. Tucker by keeping an eye out for xenoglossy cases, which I would then send to him via e-mail. He reciprocated in two ways. Firstly, he agreed to hold a digital copy of an early version of my book, against the day when someone might challenge me on when I had first recorded the core past-life memories in my study. He agreed to look up the disputed memory in the book, and--publicly, if necessary--assert that I had, in fact, documented it in this early version.
Later, I came to the conclusion he probably would not have stuck his neck out publicly for me, like that. I think he assumed it would never happen. I could be wrong about this, but I think he didn't take the eventuality seriously. At any rate, I no longer feel that I could count on him to do this, if it would associate his work publicly with mine.
Oh, I should mention this--at one point, he had a link from his website to my video interview page, where his interview was posted. But my interview page had other interviews on it, including, eventually, my own self-shot interview (where a friend was "interviewing" me). I recommended to him that he stream the video directly from his own site--this was before the days of YouTube, I think--so that his work would not be publicly associated with mine. My reason for suggesting this is that I know the Stevensonian method addresses skeptics. It is a method which forces skeptics to understand that reincarnation is an actual phenomenon. My work is too advanced for them, i.e., the skeptics. So, let the Stevensonians do their work, and I will do mine. I did not, and do not, believe that my work is inferior in any way.
This state of affairs continued for some time. I would bring a case to Dr. Tucker's attention, and he would dismiss it. Very often, his logic was both astute, and sound. He was quite patient with me, and I was getting an education on scientific logic. But occasionally, I was correct, and he was just stubborn. How could that be? His training is in psychiatry, and whatever he learned from his mentor, Dr. Stevenson and colleagues. My background is in Eastern mysticism, and specifically, the study of a very few spiritual masters who had attained the highest state of consiousness--which in that case, simultaneously means the highest state of Reality. I, in short, had access to information about reincarnation which was not available to Dr. Tucker. My understanding of the subject was more advanced, at least in certain respects. But I kept mum about it. I knew that Chester Carlson, the man who funded Dr. Stevenson's chair at the University of Virginia, had studied similar sources. I knew (from waiting in the library before shooting the interview) that they still retained those books, whether or not they had read them. But their conclusions didn't seem to take those sources into account.
For example, I know that everybody reincarnates; and I know that everybody has hundreds of thousands, and ultimately some millions, of reincarnations. I also am pretty sure that almost all children remember their past lives, or their most-recent past life, at least to some extent. I argued this last point with Dr. Tucker, and he was adamant about it, that his research didn't indicate that, and that he, personally, doubted it.
So, what we had was a sort of reciprocal relationship where I was substantially helping him, as my talents and means would allow, for the sake of advancing the field. I also knew more about the subject than he did--I was really the senior figure (as Carlson was, to Stevenson). But apparently, and according to the usual worldly criteria, he was the senior figure. So I was, in a sense, promoting him in order to advance the field, while ostensibly taking the position of mentee, the junior position.
However, I was also permitting myself to imagine that Dr. Tucker was gradually taking me seriously, as something of a lay colleague. Not so. When, after years of this occasional contact, I finally pressed the matter, I found that he had little respect for my work. Even when, in the back-and-forth exchange that followed, he grudgingly agreed to let me present, in encapsulated form, three of my most strongly-verified memories, he unfairly and irrationally dismissed the first two out-of-hand, while admitting that the third might have some merit. But that the third might have some merit, didn't induce him to take any further interest in my study, or my case. It was by way of "waving it off."
I was surprised, but I shouldn't have been. He had always been humoring me, perhaps because he knew I had done him a big favor, in the past.
There was one more piece, here, which I am reluctant to get into because it would take an entire blog entry in itself to explain. I'll have to summarize it. I became aware that there was a portrait, squirreled away in a historical library, of a person whom I thought Mathew Franklin Whittier would have deeply admired. This is an anti-slavery minister Mathew and his young wife Abby would have known during their first couple years of marriage, in 1836/37. I asked Dr. Tucker if he would slip this portrait among several decoys, and let me see if I could pick out the right one. This, he agreed to do, and I arranged to have the digital copy sent directly to him, instead of to myself. The library screwed it up, and sent it to me, anyway, but I simply forwarded it to Dr. Tucker without looking at it. Dr. Tucker then hid it amongst five or six other historical portraits (as I recall), and sent me the whole. One of those portraits came with a digital tag showing the name, and so had to be discarded.
I felt no recognition for the correct portrait. I actually felt some vague dislike for it, as I remembered in hindsight. I chose a French political and mathematical visionary from the previous century, who looked somewhat similar (too similar, for the purposes of the test) to the minister. I was, you see, looking for a visionary, and I picked one. The minister's portrait was badly done by someone who evidently didn't like him, and was probably unfinished. He looks academic, and stodgy. His forehead is too large, and his shirt too small for his waist, so that the buttons are straining. In short, it's an unflattering and not very accurate portrait. I also felt some recognition for a British ornithologist, but I didn't feel he would have been the minister.
Long story short, the minister, whose last name was Root, was academic and stodgy. The fiery anti-slavery sermon which I so admired, had actually been ghost-written by Mathew, himself. I was, in short, admiring my own writing.* Meanwhile, Mathew freelanced as a reporter for much of his life, specializing in covering lyceum talks. He probably saw every prominent person of the day, at one point or another, including scientists, which he much admired. He did spend some time in London, and he very easily could have seen that ornithologist lecture there.** So any publicly-known figure, in that line-up, has to be discounted, because Mathew very easily could have reported on his lecture. Furthermore, if Mathew admired the lecturer, it's likely he would have made a point to speak with him, personally, after the talk.
To top all this off, Abby privately tutored Mathew. She was French, and therefore, it's actually possible that Mathew saw and admired the very portrait that I picked out.
The test, in short, was invalid. But I am quite sure that, in Dr. Tucker's mind, my failure to choose the right portrait simply confirms that my study is not to be taken seriously.
Now, that's enough for you to get the tenor of the relationship. But look at Mathew's relationship with Benjamin Penhallow Shillaber, as it gradually unfolded during the course of my research. It is eerily similar. Mathew was the superior writer. Shillaber had created the popular "Mrs. Partington" character (a sort of Mrs. Malaprop) in, I think it was, 1850. Mathew had been writing a similar character when he was 20 years old. Here's a sample from December, 1834:
SECOND INTERCEPTED LETTER.
From Mrs. Higginbottom to Mrs. Rowbottom.
Hartford, Dec. 10, 1834.
My Dear Mrs. Rowbottom--We came, before sundown, in sight of Falkland's Island, which has a light house on it, with a dark looking top. However, I didn't see it with the lamp lighted, which I suppose makes all the difference in the world. I'm told some of these light houses revolve--or the lights that are in them--I don't recollect which, and I suppose 'tain't much matter, as long as they get about somehow. It answers all the same purpose. But I should suppose this whirling about would make them light headed. Aint that a good one?
The Hen and Chickens bore to the right of the light house--at least a gentleman told me 'twas the Hen and Chickens--though for any likeness they bore, they might as well have been called the Old Sow and Thirteen Pigs. The truth is, they had neither head nor tail to them, as far as I could see.
This is an open tribute to the "Ramsbottom" letters of British humorist Theodore Hook. So the genre had been around a long time, when Shillaber created his character. I believe Mathew wrote a still-earlier series, but for the purposes of illustration, this will do. Shillaber was hardly original, is the point. He was good at this particular style. Mathew could write just as competently in this style, and several others. Mathew, in short, could write rings around Shillaber--or at least, let us say he was far more versatile and original. But Shillaber was popular, while most of Mathew's work, excepting his "Ethan Spike" character, had been published anonymously. Note that Mathew expresses nothing but admiration for "Mrs. Partington," where he mentions her in his various humorous sketches. He was too secure in his own talents to be jealous, and thus could afford to be generous in his praise, as was also his nature (except where he was being plagiarized or blatantly imitated without a tribute being given). Here's one example, of several, wherein Mathew, writing as "Quails" for the Boston "Weekly Museum," appreciatively quotes "Mrs. Partington":
These two gentlemanly and self-made mechanics have also got up an invention for weaving pillow cases whole, and it works to a charm, for we saw some of the specimens ourself, and can, therefore, speak from a certainty. No wonder Mrs. Partington has been known to raise her eyes and hands and exclaim, "Oh, something must be did, and that hastily, to put a stop to the cogitary aspinsities of these mechanical inventory geniuses or bime-by folks won't be premiditated to breathe in the good old natural way, for the papers are even now talking about the pesky varmints making improvements in ollfactories." We now speak in time for a set of those pillow-cases.
In case you're new, here, and happen to be a historian of American literature, "Quails" was not entertainer Ossian Dodge, as claimed. (See the previous few entries.)
Mathew teamed up with Shillaber around 1850, when Shillaber first created "Mrs. Partington," and was the newly-appointed editor of a free Boston paper called the "Pathfinder." Nevermind how I know, that's a long story. Mathew became a silent financial partner in Shillaber's new venture, the "Carpet-Bag," which as I've explained, was Boston's answer to Britain's "Punch." After the first 2-3 issues, Mathew began submitting multiple pieces to each weekly issue. From memory, I had said "up to four," but as I examined the May 1, 1852 issue in a recent entry, I realized there was more like eight in there. It was Mathew's brand of humor which was driving and defining that paper, even more than Shillaber's. Shillaber's humor was kind of benign (except that he wasn't sensitive regarding animal welfare); Mathew's was more like Lee Camp, under a veil. It was--at least, in this paper--double-layered.
All of this, by the way, would be outrageous heresy to literary historians. So far as they are concerned, Mathew contributed only a handful of "Ethan Spike" spin-offs to this paper during its two-year run.
Returning, now, to the essential pattern of that relationship, I will go out on a limb, with just one piece of evidence, and suggest that Mathew convinced Shillaber of the truth of Spiritualism by taking him to a reading which produced validations.*** So both men were Spiritualists at this time. But Mathew was attempting what I am doing now, i.e., continuing his relationship with his late first wife, Abby, across the Great Divide. Shillaber poked gentle fun at it, and at Mathew's sensitivity in general, by creating a character called "The Sensitive Man." Mathew played along and made fun of himself, so that they co-wrote, or alternately wrote, that series. Shillaber also made fun of Mathew's long-time concern about social welfare and compassion for the downtrodden, especially regarding animals. (One of Shillaber's characters, a young boy, was cruel to animals, which Shillaber apparently thought funny, and typical of childhood in general.) In order to lampoon this trait of Mathew's, Shillaber created the character, "Philanthropos." Philanthropos, on a hot summer's day, would run from carriage to carriage, trying to get the driver to go easy on the horses, as though that was a ridiculous thing to do. But I have editorials written by Mathew on this subject in New York City, as a younger man, when he was quite in earnest.
So Shillaber didn't take Mathew seriously, but he did have affection for him, apparently, and collaborated with him, to Shillaber's benefit. Mathew knew that he, Mathew, was the senior writer, but he didn't push that in Shillaber's face. Rather, he wrote under perhaps a dozen different pseudonyms and characters for that paper. Whether Shillaber knew he was the author of all of them, is unknown--but apparently, Shillaber wasn't always aware of who was contributing his paper's material, so perhaps he didn't. He would write, in his column to the contributors, "I wish I knew who so-and-so is..."
Mathew was using this paper to further his causes, and his causes were Abolition (a la Garrison), Spiritualism, social reform to aid the less fortunate, and integrity in all spheres of life. Having been raised Quaker, he was also fighting against the idea of the "glory of war." He created characters which seemed relatively innocuous, but which were really scathing caricatures. Having to remain behind the scenes, he found it difficult to prevent rampant imitation by the other contributors. Shillaber had a very lax hand on the wheel, and it became something of a free-for-all. Mathew's imitators were neither as talented, nor as liberal, as he was.
It would appear that Mathew confided in Shillaber as a close friend. Mathew had always been gullible and naive, as his student biographer indicates. He must have shared quite a bit about his unfortunate, second family-arranged marriage, because Shillaber later created a character for that, as well, called "Blifkins the Martyr."
But in both the "Sensitive Man" series, and in the "Blifkins" series, where you see the character break into poetry, that was Mathew's poetry. So where the Sensitive Man writes to the "Absent One," who is "Over the Way," this is Mathew's own poetry to Abby in the astral realm.
Where you see Mathew's character, "Dr. E. Goethe Digg," testing mediumship by absurd methods, you will also see a session in which real validations are produced. Where Dr. Digg shares his "juvenile poetry," this was Mathew's juvenile poetry. (I also note that there's an eery similarity between "Dr. Root" and "Dr. Digg"...)
And when the nephew of Mathew's "Ensign Stebbings" character reports from Washington, Mathew, himself, is freelancing as a reporter in Washington.
I have to gather myself for a moment. The tenor of that relationship is that Mathew was actually the senior writer, but he let the more famous Shillaber think he was the senior member of the partnership. Mathew worked through Shillaber to promote his causes. Shillaber used Mathew to drive his paper's popularity; and he used Mathew directly as the inspiration for several humorous characters. He apparently felt fond of Mathew, but never took him seriously. Mathew trusted Shillaber more than he should have, revealing intimate details of his life. We know, for example, that Mathew must have told Shillaber how early his career began, because Shillaber inexplicably says that Mathew originated the style of writing in local dialect, and had "many imitators," whereas Mathew's only publicly known character, "Ethan Spike," was launched in 1846--far too late for this claim.
What struck me, this morning, is how similar the pattern is between the relationship that developed between Mathew and Shillaber, and what developed between myself and Dr. Tucker. I would say that the latter relationship is sort of a lesser manifestation of the former. I didn't get personally close with Dr. Tucker, as Mathew did with Shillaber. I also didn't collaborate with him to nearly the degree that Mathew and Shillaber did. But given that it was attenuated in this lifetime, it's a very similar pattern.
One wonders where that pattern was launched. This appears to be a sort of ripple effect, like aftershocks. Presumably, I initiated a dishonest relationship at some point in the dim past; then, there was a karmic backlash, where someone did that, to me. That's the karmic "epicenter"; then, the aftershocks reach down into who-knows-how-many subsequent lifetimes, gradually diminishing in strength.
There will come a day when the research question, "Is reincarnation real," has been decided and put away. Then we can get on with the real stuff. By that, I mean, people like the Theosophists have been theorizing about these things for a long time (citing unseen spiritual masters which I, personally, don't believe were genuine); but some day, it will be time to test such theories, as I have done.
Stephen Sakellarios, M.S.
*To be strictly accurate, I think the particular phrase I most admired was originally a laconic comment made by Abby, to the effect that they jail thieves who steal your purse, but slaveholders steal an entire person.
**Especially since this was the period when Mathew was continuing his relationship with Abby, his late first wife, across the Great Divide, and Abby loved birds.
***I gather, from the somewhat circumspect account, that Mathew had been feeling something knocking at his hat, and the medium, bringing Abby through, told him that it was she who had been doing it--presumably, without Mathew having mentioned it to anyone. The description is written by Shillaber, but I am guessing it was about Mathew, so I conclude that Mathew had brought Shillaber along.
Music opening this page: "Peekaboo," by The Free Design,
from the album, "Cosmic Peekaboo"