Salon One: Exceptional Conversation

SALON ONE: Exceptional Conversation is a series of spiritually-oriented lectures and intimate discourse begun by Giselle M. Massi at The Dairy Center for the Arts in Boulder, Colorado.

Giselle was a journalist with The Denver Post. She is the author of the books “We are Here for a Purpose: How to Find Yours” published in 2001 and the novel “Just Dance the Steps published in 2012.

Giselle’s guest for her SALON ONE event “HERE & HEREAFTER: Consciousness & the Journey of My Soul” featured writer John Meredith. The occasion marked the first time John shared with the public the story of his four past lives.

This DVD captures John’s presentation in full, beginning with his birth in Paris in the summer of 1788. John’s journey reached its denouement in Colorado in the spring of 1971 during the Vietnam war. John reveals in vivid and riveting detail each of his lives. He brings the audience along with him as he gradually learns, through a sequence of visions he experienced, both the moral and ethical stance that he must consider as he faces induction into the army.

John’s story shows how knowledge of our past — if we apply it to our present — influences us so that the decisions we make are beneficial to ourselves and others.

John Meredith is a native of St. Louis, Missouri and a graduate of the University of Colorado-Boulder. John is featured in a chapter of Giselle’s first book.

Additional questions posed to John Meredith:

Q: Were those the only ‘past’ lives that you think you lived?

John Meredith: Though I have had some powerful visions at times over the years that might suggest earlier lifetimes — going back as far as the Middle Ages — those visions were not the comprehensive, “out-of-body” experiences that occurred at the ages of 6, 12, 18 and 24; they were no more than “glimpses” of other times and other places. Consequently, I cannot say with any certainty that I lived a terrestrial existence prior to 1788. It is probable that I did, but it seems that I was only allowed to experience those four lifetimes so completely because they provided the information necessary for me to discover my primary purpose in this life; I was given the knowledge that I needed to make a decision — a decision as to whether I would accept military service again — and nothing more.

Q: How were you led to the specific people you identified?

JM: It would seem curious to most people that in each instance, I did not know my name or the names of the towns where I lived and visited, but you must remember that the purpose of the “episodes” I experienced was not to gather specific information in order to bolster the case that such experiences had taken place. And so, while I never doubted that the people whose bodies my spirit had inhabited during those lifetimes really existed, I knew that it would be important to uncover the identities of each of those people and other pertinent information about their lives if I were to tell the story in written form.

Since I was aware of a great many details of each of the terrestrial lives I had lived, in each instance, it was a matter of finding a person in the historical record who fit precisely the person I had been. I began by searching the records of casualties for the French Army at Waterloo (along with a great deal of other reading on the battle). Because I was commissioned as an officer just prior to the battle, I figured I must have been a lieutenant — a critical fact, since casualties had only been recorded for officers. I knew that I had been relatively young (24-26), that I had served in the infantry, and that I had fought at a “walled farm” (which turned out to be Hougoumont) on a flank of the battlefield.

There were six men who fit that description, so I tracked down information on each of them, until I found the one that worked: Augustin Thirion, a vintner/farmer near Roanne, who had married Marguerite Gerardin, had two children (Francois and Jeanne-Marie), and had joined the French Army five years before. I further discovered that his “mother,” Anne-Marie, had worked as au pair to a family in the royal court in Paris before the revolution. A further search of the records turned up Louis-Victor Leon de Rochechouart, born to the Count and Countess de Rochechouart on September 14, 1788, who had fled with his family into exile, subsequently joined the Russian Army, and fought in the Battle of Leipzig on the side opposite Augustin Thirion. This was my fraternal twin brother, who went on to become military governor of Paris before writing his memoirs.

Subsequent investigations of my second, third and fourth lives were a little less time-consuming, since they were more recent and some information is more available. For a number of years, I thought that I might have been William Friese-Greene, the man credited with the invention of the motion picture, but research into his life uncovered facts that didn’t fit the knowledge I had of that existence. So, I looked into those who had been closest to him, and found my man: Linnaeus Tripe, a photographer and career officer in the British Army, whose biography precisely fit my recollections.

In the third and fourth instances, I began at the end — researching the records of the Royal Navy and the British Army, respectively. In the first instance, I was fortunate in that only seven crew members on British gunboats had been killed in action during the 1920s; three of those had been officers. Researching the other four, I discovered that one — Frederick Farrow — fit my “requirements” of age, rank and background. In the second instance, I was able to obtain a list of all British Commonwealth graves in Normandy for soldiers that had been interred in the last half of 1944. From that list, I narrowed my search down to three men who had been 17 at the time of their death (born in 1927). Further research turned up one person whose upbringing and military service — in the Green Howards and 12th Parachute Regiment — mirrored the life I knew: Murray Adams-Acton of Hythe in County Kent.

Q: Did you feel it was ‘positive’ soul growth as you moved through different people?

JM: I could not say with any certainty that most of the soul growth prior to my current lifetime has been positive; otherwise, I feel that I would have resolved the primary issue of continued military service prior to 1971. The second life (which did not end on the battlefield), was the longest and seems to have been the most productive … and it appears this was because during my 36 years of army service, I was only in combat once (the Crimea), and, in that instance, was wounded before I killed or injured anyone. Nevertheless, since I served, fought and died in combat during my subsequent two lives, it appears that very little “progress” in soul/spirit development was made until this lifetime.

Q: Are you judgmental towards fighting, killing, and refusal to fight or possibly kill for any reason? If so, would you kill someone to keep your wife or children from being killed or would you refuse to kill?

JM: I do not judge those who fight, who take the lives of others, and/or who die in combat for glory, for their country, or for what they believe to be their duty. Once he/she has committed to join the military, each soldier has made his/her decision to fight — and to accept the ultimate consequences for that decision. For my part, were I to kill or attempt to take the life of another, no matter the circumstances, I would be defeating the primary purpose for which I returned to earth at this time.

I would like to think that if the situation presented itself, I would do the right thing — which, for me, would be to refuse to take a life. But emotion could carry the day, pressing me into an action that I would ultimately regret. I cannot say for certain — unless I were actually faced with the decision — what I would do.

Q: Would your judgments, if any, be changed if the battleground was on the homeland?

JM: I cannot envision a scenario wherein my judgment would be any different if the battleground was the homeland.

Q: Do you believe that a military member of lesser rank should refuse to adhere to orders (attack or other) when directed by a senior officer if you disagree with the orders? i.e., Do you feel military members should have the choice to decide if they will or won’t follow ‘proper (not illegal)’ orders?

JM: In my view, once a serviceman/woman has voluntarily taken up arms, that person is bound by the rules and regulations to which he/she has committed — regardless of the circumstances — and must follow any and all orders. The only time when one has a choice is when one chooses to join the military — or to pursue some other course.

Q: Do you have any thoughts about the other men/women who had to take your place (often married with children) for military service even though they too might not like killing?

JM: Though it was very different during the Vietnam era, when many men — myself included — faced conscription, today’s military is an all-volunteer force, and no one “has” to join. Any individual who is contemplating military service should seek out and talk to current and former servicemen/women to determine whether placing one’s self in harm’s way — and being in the position of having to kill someone — is acceptable.

Q: How confident, and why, are you that there weren’t other prior ‘lives’ [if that is the case] and how many more lives do you expect (if any) to live in the future?

JM: As in my answer to your first question, it has become clear to me that I was allowed to experience these four previous lifetimes in order to make a decision, and that any additional, earlier existences were not necessary for that purpose. So, even if I lived on earth prior to 1788, it’s unlikely that I will know about it in my remaining days. Are there more lives to come? If I were to venture an “educated” guess on that question, I would say “yes.” It seems to me, at this point in my life, that there is still work left to be done, an “atonement” that must be made for past transgressions against some of those who were closest to me — issues that may not be resolved in the time I have left. And so, it “feels” to me as though I will be returning at least once more. We’ll see…

Through the SALON ONE: exceptional conversation series Giselle inspires others to donate clothing and household items to the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. Many donations have gone to a shelter that assists Lakota women and children and also provides educational and counseling to help men and women break the cycle of domestic violence.

Giselle thanks all who have been assisting those in need.