I'm poised for my drive to Portland, Maine, which is scheduled for this coming Friday. The logistics of clearing out a three-bedroom apartment with the accumulation of many years, and paring it down to what can be shipped and put into a KIA Soul (all of which must fit into a single room), are interesting. As the day approaches, you gradually keep only the things you will need for those last few days; and then, even that has to go, leaving an empty house. And you still have to be able to find your toothbrush, etc. etc.
Being essentially caught up, I spent the day yesterday at the nearby retreat associated with my Guru, Meher Baba. I had rarely been able to visit during the last few years of my mother's slow decline; and I was so much out of the loop socially, that a rumor had spread that I had left town some years ago! Now, I was able to say goodbye to just about everybody I'm connected with. The universal question, of course, was why I was going to Portland, Maine????
And, of course, that brought up my past-life study. Now, these people are well-acquainted with the idea of reincarnation, as my Guru devoted several chapters to it in his "Discourses," and it features prominently in his other works, as well. Not for its own sake, as one finds with the Theosophists, but rather, as a necessary element of understanding the larger process of realizing God, and the purpose of life. Still, in that community, when one says one knows who one was, it is always assumed, automatically, that it is a hunch, perhaps mixed with an unknown amount of speculation. The idea that one could prove it, is viewed askance--as is the idea that one should try to prove it, by at least some of them.
Still, one fellow I hadn't met before, persisted in asking questions. How do you prove it? he wanted to know. As we were entering the grounds of the retreat--and there are standing rules about not engaging in conversations about politics, while divination and ouiji boards are not permitted--I felt a bit unsure how deep I should go into my methods there. So I cursorily summarized the matter by saying that historical information on Mathew Franklin Whittier is hard to find--that it is sort of like Jimmy Carter and his brother Billy Carter, where we know very little about Billy, except his beer. That being the case (no pun intended), I could record and date my impressions, and then dive deep into the historical record to see whether or not they were confirmed.
If any of you know what I'm doing here, you will recognize that this was the "lite" explanation. As soon as he heard the word "impressions," I could see the wheels turning, and then the machine clicked off. He had confirmed, in his mind, what he suspected, which is to say, that my "proof" is vague and unscientific, being based on mere impressions. But it is not so. I simply did not feel at liberty to go into hypnotic regression, and idiosyncratic cognitive memories, and the way my method defeats the cryptomnesia objection, and so-on.
So you get what you already assume.
If these astute people--and to a man or woman, they are astute, being in the main old souls--react this way, what can I possibly expect of the general public?
It boils down to this--I simply am not believed. No matter what I say, no matter how extensively I explain it, no matter how thorough and entertaining a book I offer, I am not believed. Not being believed, there is--as Mathew would say, imitating the dialect of the time--"an end on't."
Why anyone would continue reading this blog after they were convinced my study is not actually worth reading, I don't know. If my writing is that entertaining, well, the reason for that is obvious--I am a reincarnated writer. Which means my study is quite possibly genuine, and certainly worth the monetary pittance and the time to check out.
Recently an acquaintance told me that she had written a book about her father's experience in WWII. However, she said that (to quote from memory), it was "too good to be true." Therefore, she was obliged to hire a professional researcher to verify the things her father had told her, before it could be shopped around to the major publishers. Apparently they all rejected it, and as the agent does not typically bother with the smaller ones, the book languishes.
What I uncovered for Mathew Franklin Whittier--never mind the reincarnation aspect, just his own personal history--is too good to be true. Therefore it is summarily dismissed. That, friends, is not my fault. My pact with the reader was to be honest, to report the good and the bad accurately. If some aspects of the "good" were so good, that they are not believed, then, that is a matter of the reader not having enough faith in me. I did my part.
Last week, I digitized a series of reel-to-reel recordings of talks given by one of Meher Baba's direct disciples, Harry Kenmore. In the course of one of those talks, he made the comment: "If you are seeking proof, you will never find it--but if you are seeking truth, you will find it." So once I have done due diligence, it rests with you to be sincerely seeking truth. Otherwise you will end up with a handful of excuses as to why I have not proven anything. For example, I mentioned hypnosis, above. It actually compromised a relatively minor part of my method. But if I didn't straighten you out on this misconception, you could dismiss my study out of hand on that basis. However, now that I have told you, you can find yet another basis.
This move is high adventure for someone in their mid-60's, as I am. It gets somewhat dicey when you add in that, having been raised in Miami and never have seen a real northern winter (i.e., as an adult, that I remember), I am now moving with a car full of boxes and an elderly cat to Maine. One of my friends, with whom I reconnected at the retreat, said that now I will become a "Maineiac." Because I have a pet, I have to make reservations at a half-way point with a pet-friendly hotel. I cannot simply say, "I am too tired to drive, I'm going to pull over at the next exit and check into a Best Western." I have to make it to the one I have booked, which will take the cat. Then again, I don't know whether the cat will let me nap at rest stops. And for the matter of that, the rest stops are almost all in the South, along I-95. They get very sparse in the Northern states. So I will have to nap in the parking lot at McDonalds. Add to that that I have insomnia (as MFW also did), waking up too early and not being able to get back to sleep even on normal days, no less when I am excited about an impending move.
The whole thing is a recipe for disaster--but I'll manage it. Two drivers would make a huge difference; but there will only be room for myself, and the cat. Deciding to rescue the cat from kidney disease made my plans a lot more complicated. There are those who would simply abandon a pet, or have it euthanized. Sorry, I don't kill my friends to make things run more smoothly.
Nor do I lie to anybody; nor do I indulge in sloppy, vague, or magical thinking. If I tell you that I have concluded, after eight years of intensive research, that Mathew and his first wife, Abby, were the original authors of "A Christmas Carol"; and that after her death, Mathew was the original author of "The Raven" (and possibly, "Annabel Lee," as well), then, I mean it--and I can back up both conclusions. Note I didn't say "claims." I don't make claims--I state conclusions.
If I was believed for half-a-half-a second, people would instantly and automatically purchase my book and begin immersing themselves in a study of it. Do you see what I mean? That's the acid test, which tells me that I simply am not believed--not by anyone. There comes a point when the claim seems so outrageous on the face of it, that the person has to be nuts. I actually react that way to stories of alien abduction. It's just beyond my "boggle threshold." Actually, I put alien abduction on the "I don't know shelf"; but I am not sufficiently intrigued to study the matter. I suppose people react that way to my work.
If you delved into the history as I have, however, you would find that the claims that Charles Dickens wrote "A Christmas Carol," and that Edgar Allan Poe wrote either "The Raven" or "Annabel Lee," are really outrageous. Just think about it--"A Christmas Carol" has powerful elements of both real spirituality and the occult (as did the film "Ghost")--but Dickens was a materialistic sensationalist, who scoffed at Spiritualism. Poe wrote horror fiction, like Stephen King, and he was not in grief when he supposedly wrote "The Raven." But that poem portrays a deeply sincere struggle with belief vs. disbelief, in the throes of real grief--written by someone whose first defense, when assailed by ungovernable emotions, was dark humor. It clearly was not an academic exercise in poetry, as Poe explained afterwards. And where, exactly, would the tone of "Annabel Lee" fit in Poe's accustomed subject-matter?
Oh, never mind. The things that will be obvious tomorrow, are invisible, today. Speaking of things that are invisible, Abby will, of course, accompany me to Portland. Next you hear from me I will write from my new digs there, one room in a huge old Victorian house, looking out of my large window on what will probably be a snow-covered scene with a gigantic tree or two.
Oh, I wanted to add one more thing--I will be going to the land of storytellers. Mathew learned his craft, no doubt, from sitting at the feet of many an old man on a winter's day, with a few of his fellow-villagers around the stove. But yesterday I was privileged to be part of a small group who heard an Irishman hold forth, telling his first-hand accounts of our Guru, Meher Baba. He adopted each character in turn, making the stories come alive--and I think there are no finer story-tellers in New England, than our own Tom Riley.
Stephen Sakellarios, M.S.
Music opening this page, "Baba O'Riley"
by The Who, from the album "Who's Next"