METAPHYSICAL QUOTES — The Death Series — # 3

 The following are from the Kabbalistic tradition.  The first two from Hasidic masters, the last from the Zohar, the major Kabbalistic text.

 

Death is merely moving from one home to another.  If we are wise, we will make the latter the more beautiful home– Hasidic master

 

Why should I  not rejoice seeing that I am about to leave this world below, and enter into the higher world of eternity? –Rabbi Elimelech of Lizensk

 

For we have learned that at the hour of a man's departure from this world, his father and relatives gather round him, and he sees them and recognizes them and likewise all with whom he associated in this world and they accompany his soul to the place where it is to abide– Zohar **

** This concept of "death bed visitation" is well known to researchers in the field (see At The Hour of Death, – Osis and Haradlsoon, 1997)  as well as to Hospice nurses.  In fact they will often alert the family prior to death to this phenomenon.

THE GIFT OF JOY OF THE PRESENT MOMENT

I have previously blogged  as describing the present moment as "our greatest teacher".  We can and must learn from adversity.  I still firmly believe that to be the case.  But the present moment  also offers us the opportunity to appreciate the joy that is inherent in creation.

 We are so often bogged down by  the worry, fear and a constant internal "mind talk" which weighs us down with despair and sadness.   And little wonder–our consciousness is continuously bombarded by bad news–wars, genocides, poverty, natural disasters, crime etc. 

It is almost impossible to clear away this barrage of negativity to see the moments of pure clarity and joy  which exist in parallel with all the suffering.  It may be that  joy and suffering are twins which coexist within  many of life's experiences.

We are by nature pessimists.  Our survival as physical beings throughout history depended on that extra degree of worry, fear and paranoia.   But unless we recognize that we need to release this negativity and fear we will never experience serenity and joy. 

We may find ourselves unable to enjoy the positive events and experiences in our lives because of some overwhelming guilt that to do so would negate or diminish our own suffering or that of loved ones.   Nothing is further from the truth.  Small gifts of joy are just that.  They allow us tolerate the pain and suffering.  To ignore or reject them is to reject the gift of Spirit. 

 It has been said that when  souls reach the "other side" they become aware of all the small gifts of joy that were offered to them when they were incarnated.  They might have been the glorious sunset, a babies smile, the door held open for us by a smiling stranger.  They just were unable to appreciate them. 

 So let us vow to seek the special moments in which laughter trumps tears.  Let us refrain from pulling back from such enjoyment out of a sense of guilt. 

 If we don't pay attention, recognize them,  seek them out we will never recognize that they are gifts given to us to be experienced and enjoyed.

METAPHYSICAL QUOTES– The Death Series — # 1

The following series of quotes are based on my fascination with the great metaphysical questions of all–the nature of reality.  What is life?  What is death?  I would challenge those individuals who fear exploring such topics, for it is this precisely the fear of death which empowers it.    I do not consider discussions of death depressing or frightening. Death is the consequence of being born and there are some who would declare that life is the source of struggle and suffering, whereas death is the ultimate release.

My hope is that when we individually and as a society begin to face the reality of death and dying we will also discuss the issues of end of life care, honoring the dying process, providing relief of suffering.  This should be our goal.  Instead we find individuals subjected toendless procedures and and insistence on maintaining life without quality any attention to its quality.

Of all the wonders I yet have heard 

It seems to me most strange that man should fear

Seeing that death, a necessary end

Will come when it will come—-   Wm Shakespeare– Julius Caesar

THE SEEKER FINDS SERENITY– Response to the Medium Experience

First lose the fear. 

 I have been pleasantly surprised by the response to my last posting on my experience with Lynn Milano's reading.  Perhaps I can no longer resist the Facebook universe which helps spread these words.

I am not attempting to change anyone's belief system regarding the survival of the soul.  This has been and continues to be a crucial element in my own personal metaphysical journey.  I just seek the truth.  That's it.  If life ends at death–so be it.  I would have no problem embracing that truth.  And I would not immediately dissolve into a pool of existential angst.  I would embrace life to the extent that I do now.

But if there is evidence for continuation of consciousness after physical death–and I firmly believe there is–why not contemplate that truth?

It should relieve what remains for many the ultimate source of fear–that all loving connections dissipate when we die, that all our karmic choices in life have no ultimate meaning.

But more importantly, it should guide us towards a philosophy of living in the present.  What are our priorities?  What makes us happy? Should we not expand our capacities for empathy and compassion towards our fellow human beings?  Should we not make that personal call,  visit someone we know who is suffering, extend a hand, an arm over the shoulder, a gentle smile?  Is the pursuit of wealth and prestige a worthy undertaking? Should we not step back from the self-induced frenzy we call our lives and take a deep breath? Should we not turn off our BlackBerrys, I phones, I pads etc and experience the present moment?  Do we not realize that we cannot and never could control the universe?

Could we not do all those acts of kindess without an awareness of a spiritual universe?  Certainly.  But why not make it easier, more consoling to those who suffer?

To me this is the value of the metaphysical journey.  It can extract serenity from the midst of chaos and give solace to those who mourn.

LIFE AFTER DEATH — Healing a Mourning Heart– A Message From Frank

Before he passed my father offered to give me a sign if there was continuity of consciousness after death.  I may have received that sign in the form of a medium's reading.

Those of you who know my blog are aware of my book MetaPhysician on Call for Better Health  Praeger 2007 which outlines my personal metaphysical journey from skeptic to believer.  My own transformation was not based on faith or religious  doctrine.  Rather is was a consequence of the personal experiences of individuals I knew to be both honest and credible.

The other source of evidence came from the reports of mediums and their subjects.  Some of my own experience with mediums was suggestive of communication.  But my recent reading by Lynn Milano of Metuchen NJ was astounding.

Gary Schartz PhD has studied mediums under controlled conditions and demonstrated scientific results highly suggestive of their abilities.  But as he has noted, the powerful nature of these experiences is in the details of specific readings. Only those who have received these readings can validate their authenticity.

When a medium brings through information that only you and the deceased could know, then we should all consider the strong possibility that survival of consciousness after death is real.

Lynn brought through my mother who, as in past readings with other mediums, explains that she was not cognitively "clear" before she passed, but became so afterwards.  My dad, on the other hand, was completely mentally aware until the very end. This information was passed along to me by Lynn as well.

Her descriptions of his personality, his gratitude for his life and his smiling, upbeat nature were spot on.  She referenced the photo of himself he was most proud of–in his army uniform from World War II surrounded by several metals and ribbons.  This was specific and certainly nothing she could have been aware of.

The reading was continuing to be tremendously powerful including the names of close relatives, friends who had passed on and a description of my sister's  "yappy" dog which was completely the way Frank regarded it.

The most powerful confirmation occurred when I asked her if he was "showing her anything about himself, physically".  I was curious as to whether Frank would comment on his disability and thereby offer more evidence of his continued existence.

He had been shot through the left leg/knee on a battlefield in Nancy, France during WWII.  As a result of multiple surgical procedures he could never bend his left knee afterwards.  Throughout my life he walked with a limp.

Lynn closed her eyes, took a deep breath.  She then opened them and stated quite plainly "his left knee, he's talking about his left knee".

I was completely take aback by this comment.  It was exactly the confirmation that I was seeking.  There is no way Lynn could have know this fact, this detail about Frank.

Does this type of experience contribute to the healing process? Clearly it does.  But it also lends credence to the strong belief that "life after death" is real.

But does that belief change our lives in any way? 

I suggest that it does.  More in upcoming blogs.

THE 10 % — The Less Resilient Among Us

Somehow I feel compelled to acknowledge the 10 % of us who are different.  I'm referring to a rough estimation of that percentage of human beings who exhibit traits that are in the minority but deserve special consideration and attention.  The exact percentage is unknown and frankly not as important as the concept–there are a sizable number of "us" who are not particularly resilient when dealing with significant stress.

At first I was drawn to several  "minorities".  They are the post-traumatic stress disorder PTSD people.  These seem to be about the 10% of the population more prone to developing this condition after serious and profound traumas/adversities. 

Now clearly these individuals may have suffered more profound adverse events–being victims of brutality, witnessing that of loved-ones, in battle etc.  Yet resilience to severe adversity is possible and actually probable for nearly 90% of us–sometimes to the suprise of those who study such phenomena.The ability of those who overcome severe adversity to find success and serenity in life does happen.

But what about the 10% of children who don't quite "make it" on their own.  Perhaps they are the products of extreme poverty, unwanted, without a family structure.  What about the slow-learners, the ADD types, the learning disability students, the mentally and physically abused?  There is a good likelihood that they will get left behind.  They may not be attended to.  They are prone to drug addiction, criminality, suicide.

We need to pay attention.  Not only for moral and ethical reasons but for those of us less concerned about such spiritual imperatives–it will cost society much in the way of money, pain and suffering if we fail to take care of the 10%. 

PHILOSOPHY OF FRANK

My Dad Frank who passed away on February 21st would be the last person on the planet to describe himself as a philosopher.

In fact I doubt if he had read many philosophical writings at all during his lifetime.  Likewise, there is no question that he would have dismissed any notion that the manner in which he lived his life would even be considered worthy of discussion.  He was, after all, a rather humble man. And furthermore I submit that there are many more "Franks" out there–ordinary people who have led exemplary lives.  Their examples are worthy of examination.

Therefore it is interesting  to observe and analyze the attitudes and behaviors he exhibited during his lifetime and, in the process, derive some principles by which might live our own.

1} Live simply with attention to what you need.  It's fine to acquire material possessions on occasion but don't for a moment believe they will bring real happiness.

2} Respect the beliefs and opinions of others.  It's natural to have your own faith and beliefs. They are yours by birth and choice and in this country you have the freedom to believe and practice  as you wish. Don't demand that others follow your beliefs. That is an affront to personal choice. 

3} Don't stereotype anyone by their ethnicity, race or religion.  There are many good people from different backgrounds who share your sense of fairness and respect for others.  Likewise there are members of your own group whose values contradict your own.

4} As human beings we are capable of acting in ways that demonstrate caring and compassion for others. It is a simple but valuable approach to life.  Treat people fairly. Live the Golden Rule.

5} Admire those who have worked hard and diligently for their accomplishments.  But if  they come to believe they are better than anyone else, it is time for a reality check.  Arrogance, haughtiness, self-promotion and egocentric attitude and behavior is ridiculous and obnoxious.  We are all equal on a human level.

6} Family, friends and personal connections are paramount in life.  Overlook minor transgressions if possible.  You are together in this life for a reason. They are the source of real happiness.

7} This is the best country on earth.  It welcomes  downtrodden immigrants from all over the world.  Respect it and be willing to serve in its defense. The American dream is based on mutual respect and the dignity of all human beings.

8} But as much as we pledge allegiance to this nation it is our duty as citizens to criticize its leaders when we believe they are wrong.

 

9} Life is not always "fair".  The innocent suffer and adversity will touch as all.  But embrace an optimistic attitude.  Smile whenever you can.  It will influence others.

10} Respect each and every human being you encounter.  Give them the benefit of the doubt.  Be curious about who they are and meet them on a deeply personal level. They will not forget you.

11} Always expect that tomorrow will be better than today. If it doesn't happen that way, so be it.

12} Respect life but acknowledge that death is the inevitable end. Be grateful for the gift of having lived and loved in this world.

13} Live life in the moment. You can't appreciate where you are now if you are fretting over the past or obsessing over the future.

LIVING LIFE IN THE MIDDLE LANE — Common Sense & Exercise

Ahah.  Finally scientific evidence to support what most of us have always known–moderation in life.  It makes the most sense and may contribute to a longer healthier life.http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/03/09/when-exercise-is-too-much-of-a-good-thing/?src=me&ref=health

Excessive exercise was shown to lead to cardiac fibrosis, scar tissue and possible arrhythmias.  The article in the NYTimes by Gretchen Reynolds supports the notion that excessive anything, even a "good" thing just doesn't make any sense.

We know exercise is a good thing–from muscle conditioning, cardiovascular toning, weight control,  memory and mentation–but too many of us seem obsessively devoted to pushing ourselves beyond what feels right.   

I do believe in exercise, but not when it hurts and I've observed too many runners in Central Park who seem to be in pain.

 

So let's bring back moderation–in all things.  From eating, to alcohol consumption to sex and finally to exercise.

Fanaticism just doesn't work in any aspect of life.

Now we have science behind those of us who are not masochists about exercise.

Enjoy life.  It doesn't have to be painful.

SPIRITUAL ATHEISTS — An Oxymoron ?

Are atheism and spirituality mutually exclusive?  Is it possible to be spiritual without a belief in Spirit/God?   And furthermore if there is a Spirit/God would he/she prefer adoration or  a universe of spiritually motivated beings?

In essence I am writing about the difference between "spiritual" as it relates to a series of moral and ethical practices and "Spiritual" as it connotes a universe of nonphysical beings or Spirits. Perhaps we should use different terms for each.

The discussion also touches on the difference between religious  individuals who feel drawn to and compelled to observe the tenets of a specific belief-system and claim belief and subservience to Spirit/God  and an individual who follows the spiritual precepts of compassion, kindness, charity, mutual respect for others and the planet itself.

Prayers often abound with praise and adoration for God, Allah or any other Supreme Being.  It seems as if the relationship with man to  Spirit/God involves submission and subservience.  It is as if Spirit/God will only grant life, success, victory over an enemy if one says the correct prayer, performs the correct ritual, eat the right food. 

Buddhism, for instance, is regarded by some as an atheistic religion because of its doctrinal absence of discussion of a Spirit/God.  Its appeal to many in the West is based on its understanding of human suffering as related to the content of our mind/consciousness.  Its prescription for following the paths to liberation are immensely spiritual and yet have little to do with a Spirit/God of any kind.

I do believe that there is a Spiritual dimension to reality which transcends this physical plane.  I am not sure what Spirit/God is but I do believe there may be a hierarchy of  non-physical Spiritual beings of which we are one. I do believe evidence exists that we are Spiritual beings having an human experience. 

My belief system, however, is not based on the specific teachings of religion but on the evidence offered by human beings who have had extraordinary spiritual experiences. My personal interviews with ordinary people who have had after-death communications or medium-based interactions leads me to weigh the preponderance of evidence.  That evidence clearly points to the survival of the soul/spirit after death.

Having made that point, I can still more readily applaud the moral and ethical behavior of an atheist who follows spiritual principles than a hypocritical "man of God" who does not.

I believe that if humanity were more focused on spiritual principles and less on religious dogma and practices we would be doing "God's work" anyway–whether or not we believe  in his/hers existence.

I believe that any Spirit/God worthy of the name would prefer a universe of spiritual atheists to one of hypocritical/unethical/ unspiritual believers.