Now that I have gone from having an absurdly tight scheule, to having almost no schedule at all, and I've finished my lunch, I'm inclined to suspend work on the tape digitizing for awhile, and write an entry. I know, I just wrote an entry yesterday. I like writing. When something occurs to me during the day, I make time to express it.
Now, as I get ready to move in a couple of months--quite possibly to Denver, as I got a very nice response from a representative of the Theosophical Society there--I am going through my collection of reincarnation books. I have several boxes' worth, and I'm paring it down by at least a third. (I would donate them to the Theo. Soc., as a thank-you, but you see the logistical Catch-22.)
So I'm culling through these books, with certain criteria. I don't need to be convinced or educated about the basic arguments for reincarnation, so I can donate those to people who might benefit from them. I don't need cases where someone remembers nine past lives, because I don't believe there are very many people who have that kind of recall, so most of it is probably imagination. I want cases which were very objectively and thoroughly studied; but ideally, I'd also like a good read.
That's a tough combination, because if it's a good read, chances are it's largely fanciful; or, if it's rigorously studied, chances are it's dull. There are really only a few like that, though I have kept more, chiefly because I have about a box and a half of signed reincarnation books. Those (aside from one or two which I may try to sell), stay with me. They are a gamble for my old age. If reincarnation is generally accepted before I die, I cash in. For example, I have a copy of "Twenty Cases of Reincarnation" co-signed by Dr. Ian Stevenson, and Morey Bernstein, of "Bridey Murphy" fame. I also have a signed copy of the LP recording of the Bridey Murphy regression sessions. Plus, a signed copy of "The Reincarnation of James the Submarine Man." You can't even find that book, no less a signed copy (except I know that my friend Jeff Keene also has a signed copy of it).
Really, there are very, very few of these non-Stevensonian cases which are rigorously and methodically researched. I wouldn't know where to start, to point out the differences. One constantly asks the question, "Is there any normal explanation for this?" You eliminate all the normal explanations first, and that, vigorously. As vigorously as any skeptic would do it. And as honestly (or more honestly). What's left, you start investigating. You want real evidence, and you want as much of it as you can get. "Cryptomnesia" (false memory) has to be eliminated as an explanation; chance has to be eliminated. You have to be able to prove you didn't cheat in any way, consciously or unconsciously, maliciously or naively. Then, ideally, it should be an adventure.
My book hits this standard better than any other study I can think of. That's not bragging, it's just true, in my estimation. But these other books had their audience. Not a large audience, for the most part (except, perhaps, for "Bridey Murphy," which created a sensation); but still, they sold books, they got some recognition, and so-on. Not me, not yet. Admittedly, reincarnation is a very hard sell. Each author who approaches the topic starts out with the same observations, i.e., how logical it is, and how studiously society ignores it. You can pick up a book from the 1920's and one written yesterday, and the introduction sounds the same.
So seemingly we have made no progress at all against public denial in this field. I don't know that I will make a dent in it, either. Great men and women have come and gone--Gina Cerminara, Roger Woolger, Ian Stevenson--and still the public views reincarnation with cool contempt.
Oh, I read something interesting about Dr. Stevenson in one of these books. It seems that there was a case in which a British gentleman wrote a book about his memories as a foot soldier, in the 1600's (as I recall). Quite a bit of controversy was generated, and Dr. Stevenson weighed in heavily, and publicly, on the "pro" side. But eventually, the man's memories were largely disproved, such that it appeared to be a case of false memory. He had studied the period in question, and--intentionally or unintentionally--generated a false past life to bring the impressions in his mind to life. Or that was the general consensus.
Now I understand why Dr. Stevenson was so reluctant to endorse the use of hypnosis to prove past-life memories, after that. Once burned, twice shy.
From the research point of view, I was meticulous, and brutally honest. From the literary point of view, my book is well-written. How do I know? Well, I was a professional writer in the 19th century. But in this century, Tom Shroder, a former editor for the Washington Post, conceded to me, privately, that what he read of it was well-written. He wasn't convinced of my evidence--given that, like Dr. Jim Tucker, he would only look at a few isolated examples--but he did praise my writing.
From the entertainment perspective, I think that for the intelligent reader with an attention span that hasn't been damaged by modern media, it is quite engaging. For the literary historian--at least, for one who is open-minded (there have to be five or six of these in the country), it would be fascinating. For anyone who enjoys detective logic, it would be gripping. Because I don't just claim that Mathew Franklin Whittier was the original co-author of "A Christmas Carol," and the original author of "The Raven"--I make a darned good case for both claims.
It is possible that after I move, there will be increased interest in my work. I am, after all, going to the one place which saw fit to broadcast my documentary, "In Another Life." Perhaps Denver will give me a personal reception to match.
Stephen Sakellarios, M.S.
Music opening this page, "Galileo" by It's a Beautiful Day,
from the album, "Marrying Maiden"