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Abby has her own blog, which you can access here.

I spent two days editing my entry of the 20th, after posting it. A total of six people have read it. If you're one of those six, you might want to revisit it, given that what I initially posted was pretty awful.

In that entry, I painstakingly presented evidence, both for the validity of my communication with Abby, my astral wife, and also for the type of emotional past-life memory I explore in my book, "Mathew Franklin Whittier in his own words." That book continues to sell no copies whatsoever, no matter what I write, here. I still don't know whether people don't believe me (in which case I should offer more evidence, as I did last entry), or whether I'm scaring people off (in which case the more evidence I offer, the more scared they get).

There are, however, things that came up in my study which I couldn't verify, which are still worth musing about. One of them is Mathew's relationship to his colleagues in humorous writing. In a nutshell--because I am once again bursting with ideas to get across here, and I'm trying to be concise--Mathew appears to have been a reincarnated rabbi (among other things). He fell through grief, and struggled between belief and doubt, as regards the afterlife. He frequently challenged the status quo, offending the staid, the proper and the pious. But he never, as it seems, lost his faith in God. He never became a secular humorist, in other words, despite the fact that one biographer erroneously labeled him a "nihilist." No matter how much he offended the pious (including his famous, pious brother), he retained the Perennial Philosophy--which I believe Abby first taught him, in that lifetime--as his world view. Being a reincarnated rabbi, he was, essentially, teaching with stories, though very few appreciated this level of his work. People took them as mere stories, not as teaching stories.

To that extent, and to that extent only, he achieved grassroots fame. But not real fame, not the kind which leads to worldly success. However, secular humorists borrowed his style, sans faith, sans the deeper message, and did achieve worldly success with it. Among those who did so, were his open admirer Nathaniel Deering, "Josh Billings," "Petroleum V. Nasby," and "Artemus Ward." The last three hit the lyceum circuit (the precursor to television), and became famous that way (Deering was wealthy, and wrote as a hobby). The most famous was Artemus Ward, aka Charles Farrar Browne, Lincoln's favorite humorist, who died young while making a name for himself in Europe. I found an article in which his mother was trying to raise money for his tombstone, so I suppose either he had dissipated his fortune, or fame was not yet translating into wealth. I haven't read his biography in depth. (Again, if you want precise scholarship, check out the previous entry.)

I have a hunch, without having any proof, that two of these imitators reincarnated into 20th and 21st century life, and made it big. I think Nathaniel Deering, who specifically attempted to write pieces set in Mathew's own fictional town of "Hornby," reincarnated as British comedy writer Johnny Speight. Speight wrote "Alf Garnett," which was morphed into "Archie Bunker" in the States. Mathew's character, "Ethan Spike," was the precursor to both those characters. Whether there was a direct tie-in, I don't know. Mathew's work was published overseas, including in England, but that Speight could have run across one of his sketches is a long-shot. Deering and Speight certainly look similar, within the 85% range that I expect for most past-life matches. Nathaniel Deering was, I believe, a mentor to Mathew, and although his imitations were awful, Mathew suffered them (as I feel) because of the kindness Deering had shown him after Abby's death. From the history, I know that they both belonged to the same debate club, and to different lodges of the Odd Fellows. Again, I know that Deering created characters whom he set in Mathew's fictional town. I have a sample here in the office, and I quoted from it in the book.

Then there is Charles Farrar Browne. Here, it gets more complicated. Browne entered the field with "Artemus Ward," a showman, several years after Mathew had begun writing "Ethan Spike." Mathew wasn't the first--there had been Seba Smith's "Major Jack Downing" character before him. This would be a matter for literary scholars, but it strikes me that "Artemus Ward" was a more deliberate imitation of "Ethan Spike," than "Ethan Spike" was of "Downing." "Artemus Ward" was "Spike" without the deeper spiritual message. He retained the social message, and the naughty, iconoclastic wit, but not the Perennial Philosophy behind it. It was, in short, a secularization of Mathew's work.

Browne went on to edit for "Vanity Fair" in New York, and, apparently, published a number of Mathew's pieces, for which Mathew was paid well. So there was some reciprocity. Earlier that year, Mathew had even reviewed one of Browne's public performances. The review replicates a large portion of the talk (Mathew took shorthand), and, in fact, there is nothing of the Artemus Ward character in it. Browne has been called the first stand-up comic. The routine is very funny, indeed. His talk is titled after a popular story, "The Children in the Wood," but Browne never quite gets to it, being side-tracked--"lost in the wood," as it were--by commentary on various and sundry topics of current interest.

I get the sense that Browne, himself, though brilliant, was somewhat lost in the wood.

Note Mathew calls him a "sage." This would seem to fly in the face of my interpretation, but I think not. Mathew was extremely generous as he encouraged the "young lions"--but my feeling is that he was projecting what he, himself did in his own work. Here, he is clearly suggesting that he feels Browne is an "old soul." Mathew often made casual remarks like this, in his public work, which upon closer examination, revealed his deep study of mysticism.

Now, I am magnetically drawn to, and simultaneously repelled by, Chuck Lorre's work, and in particular, "Big Bang Theory." I was reading through his "vanity cards" again last night, online, and I was struck by these same qualities. Some few entries back, I presented a comparison photograph of him and Browne. I also suggested that he may project bits of himself onto all the characters in "Big Bang," but that the pivotal character is "Leonard"--who, also, is sort of "lost in the wood." Brilliant, but bemused. A comparison of Lorre's portrait with Browne's once again arguably yields an 85% similarity, as does the comparision of Speight's with Deering's. Note that I did not, as the skeptic might assume, go scanning portraits of modern humorous writers that might match any of Mathew's contemporaries. In the case of Deering, I felt that the originator of "Alf Garnett" might have been Deering, and then found Speight's photograph, never having seen his portrait before. In the case of Lorre, similarly, while reading his vanity cards, I had the insight that he might have been Browne, and, never having seen a portrait of Lorre, looked him up.

Note also that I'm not presenting these comparison portraits as proof of reincarnation, as Dr. Walter Semkiw does, but rather, simply for purposes of illustration. (I also refuse to show anyone upside-down.)(1) I'm not going anywhere with this in terms of proof--that would require an additional five years of research, as my case did--I sat down to try to address this issue of secularism. In a secular society, a secular writer is, by definition, going to be more popular than a spiritual one. A religious writer might be popular with religious people. A New Age writer will be popular with the New Age crowd. But a truly spiritual writer will be popular with nobody. Note that the popularized New Age material is watered down. I won't argue that point, I'll just assert it as a truism.

Logistically, it strikes me that it's paradoxical to expect popularity by offering something that the vast majority doesn't want or can't appreciate. If the majority fall into three camps--secular, religious, and watered-down spiritual--and you offer high-octane spiritual--by definition, you won't be famous. Not unless and until the percentages change. This is simple arithmetic, which I've never been much good at, but even I can grasp this much.

How one moves from secularism to spirituality is a big topic. In particular, one of Lorre's vanity cards suggests, sarcastically, that God's penchant for destroying everything enjoyable in life is the major objection.

I'm going to defer to my Guru on this one. Last week, I sat near the very spot where he addressed this issue, for reporters, in 1956. Shall I quote it, here?

Meher Baba was asked the following question, prepared by a disciple for the occasion: "Why should misery perpetually exist on earth, in spite of God's infinite love and mercy?"

His answer: "The source of eternal bliss is the Self in all. The cause of perpetual misery is the selfishness of all. As long as satisfaction is derived through selfish pursuits, misery will always exist. Only because of the infinite love and mercy of God can man learn to realise, through the lessons of misery on earth, that inherent in him is the source of infinite bliss, and all suffering is his labor of love to unveil his own infinite Self."

I will only add that this is why one studies reincarnation and karma, and I can't hand over what I've learned, during the course of 40 years, to anyone on a silver platter. Heck, I can't even sell my book in the first place, no less try to clarify any points after it's been read.

I have already spoken in a personal way about this subject of moving from secularism to spirituality, some five or six entries previous. In my case, looking back to Mathew's life and then ahead to my own, love got me, then, grief undid me. It's that simple. You can whistle along enjoying the fruits of life, but man's heart is built in such a way that sooner or later, love will get you. In a sense, this is the real, underlying theme of "Big Bang Theory." These guys are brilliant, and they have it made, but the entire show is about love--the unrelenting need for love, the quest for love, the struggles with love. Only "Sheldon" tries to do without it (being content with his vanity), and even he ends up feeling affection for Amy; while Amy patiently tries to lead him by the hand, encouraging him to take baby-steps toward love.

If love gets you, then grief will surely undo you. And when grief undoes you, secularism won't work.(2) Trust me, I know. Only then, what I'm about, here, will start to make sense.

As I was feeling judgmental toward Lorre, reading the atheistic quips in his vanity cards, I felt the thought-burst from Abby--"He is only a step away."

Maybe she's right.

Best regards,

Stephen Sakellarios, M.S.

1) I created a comparison photograph of Jeff Keene and his past-life personality, John B. Gordon, in 1998 (the one with each portrait vignetted in an oval, which you can find used by various people online, is a 2002 revision of it). Dr. Semkiw's book, "Return of the Revolutionaries," was published in April of 2003. My documentary, "In Another Life," which features that image as part of an interview with Jeff seated in front of his past-life grave, was broadcast in Denver three months earlier, in Jan. of 2003. To my knowledge, Dr. Semkiw has never acknowledged or credited my work, including in his own later presentation of Keene's case. The point, here, is that in presenting these comparisons, I am not imitating Semkiw. If anything, it's the other way-round.

2) The sting of grief is not primarily loss, but ignorance, since identifying a loved one with their physical body is an illusion.

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