SURVIVAL WEEKEND– The Metaphysics of Life

We are all familiar with the term survival weekend

 We can visualize a TV series with a group of individuals stranded on a deserted island with bare necessities, tremendous fear and a limited amount of time to overcome whatever adversity comes their way.  In the end there is some notion of a "winner".

Well what if all our individual lives were seen through the perspective of eternity?  A life that lasts 9 days or 99 years might seem essentially the same.

What if we are all operating off some sort of script, even if much of what we do is improvisational, based on free will choices ? Would the term survival weekend be that far off the mark?

My own readings and dealings with psychic/mediums have led me to believe that each and everyone of us alive today are engaged in our personal version of survival weekend.

We arrive with little but the skin on our back and a hopefully benevolent benefactor in the form of our parents and family.  For some individuals even this bare necessity is lacking.  The rest is a challenge.

Of course it is not all about overcoming suffering. There are the low hanging fruit of beauty, kindness and sensual pleasures to sustain us.  But in every life there is tragedy, disappointment, humiliation and unhappiness.

From the perspective of multiple lifetimes we can view our lives as a chapter in a long process of soul evolution.  We can even make peace with the difficult times.  When we come to appreciate that this lifetime, or any one lifetime for that matter, is not "all there is" we can accept suffering with equanimity.

We are here for a fixed amount of time.  We will need to form alliances to survive.  Even these relationships can be regarded as a part of this journey.  At the end some of us will be considered to be "winners" while other may appear to be the opposite.  Perhaps this is all an illusion.

Michael Newton and others who do past-life regression write about karmic choices our souls make prior to incarnation.  Caroline Myss speaks of "soul contracts".  In one particular life we may have been so obsessively connected with a particular soulmate that in the next lifetime we may not even meet them.

The result may appear to be life of loneliness or solitude.  In a prior life we may have been obsessively preoccupied with material possessions, ego gratification, cutthroat competitivenss and deceit.  Perhaps we chose the opposite experience in this lifetime to learn humility and compassion for others.

This may be difficult for many to accept.  We know our present suffering.  We don't know about past lives.  This is also not an excuse for blaming those who suffer as somehow deserving of it based on karmic forces.

Just perhaps the unfortunate individual you encounter is your opportunity to correct your own karmic debt.  So don't feel so self-important is your suffering pales in comparison to others.  Your karmic responsibility may be even greater than theirs. You are in a position to help. 

Failure to share what you have, to show empathy and compassion to those less fortunate  may be a part of your script on this survival weekend.


Spiritual awareness.

 Will 2012 bring an unfolding of awareness so sorely needed?  Perhaps there is an early sign that spirituality is going mainstream.  Witness Peggy Noonan's editorial in the prestigious, entirely mainstream, capitalist Bible, The Wall Street Journal

Noonan refers to Steven Job's end of life declaration "Oh Wow, Oh Wow, Oh Wow" and even submits her own example of an end of life experience.  This is not some New Age publication or easily dismissed website.  It's the WSJ ! That's truly miraculous.

Perhaps our society is truly opening to the unfolding of spiritual awareness that seems ready to manifest.

God knows.  We all desperately need it!


New York City–an island of man-made mountains.  It is itself built on solid rock known as Manhattan schist.  Rarely do we recognize the truth of this assertion until we can actually see evidence for it.  In Central Park, in the winter when the cloak of greenery disappears do the bones of New York reveal themselves in all their subtle grandeur. Manhattan-20111221-00039



Physician, philosopher Lewis Thomas made the statement, "we are built to make mistakes, coded for error.".  I'm not entirely sure what he was referring to.  I do suspect my high school math teacher would not have accepted it as an excuse.

Of course we make mistakes.  But clearly we strive to eliminate as many as possible.  But we are imperfect beings–on many levels.  Some mistakes have few consequences, other catastrophic ones.

As a physician I am held to an extremely high standard.  Essentially no mistakes are tolerated.  More problematic for doctors, we often deal with terribly sick patients or those with hidden illnesses.  But once we have interacted with such a patient, we are held liable for their outcome.

In genetics, mistakes can be fatal and catastrophic.  Birth defects, intrauterine deaths are the result of genetic mechanisms which are less than perfect.  DNA unravels itself, makes proteins and new DNA.  What is supposed to be perfect replication goes awry.

But imperfection, mistakes if you will, are the basis of evolutionary change.  Mutations are mistakes.  But mutations which provide survival advantages are the driving force of evolution itself. It is precisely the "mistakes" in genetic replication which offer opportunity for novelty and evolutionary progress.

Also, innovative thinking in science and the arts begin with twisting the accepted dogma or standard practices so that what emerges may appear to be a mistake or error.  Only with time and a full awareness of the implications of these "paradigm shifts"  can they be recognized as something new and innovative.

Human beings are mutated chimps.  Chimps are mutated lemurs.  Lemurs are mutated……  It goes all the way back to blue-green algae.  They are prokaryotes.  They do not even have nuclei in their cells.  Yet they were somehow mutated from even simpler nucleic acid compounds.  Was it RNA?  But what came before that?

So watch your mistakes.  They will happen regardless of what we do.  But someday the future of life on this planet may depend on them.


Present in the moment

There is no past to tease us with regret

There is no future to fret about  

There is no place for anxiety, sadness or despair

It is a sanctuary of peace


Present in the moment


There is no place for questioning

There is no room for doubt  

There is no thought of control  

It is a place without dimensions 

Present in the moment –

There is only room for pure awareness  

When thoughts arise we observe them 

When feelings arise we take note  

We watch them pass across the window of our mind, like clouds across the sky


Present in the moment– 

There is no time at all

There is only pure witnessing

There is no place for fear to reside 

There is only room for healing



….grant me the serenity to accept what I cannot change…."   The essence of the famed Serenity Prayer.  Of course the rest is crucial to the entire sequence.  We do need the courage to change what we can and especially the wisdom to know the difference.  Such truth in so few words.  Yet so hard to follow.

I am also fascinated by the Buddhist understanding of suffering as well.  It centers on our attachments.  It seems much easier to declare that we are not attached to our material possessions than to proclaim the same towards those we love and care about.

But at some point in the nature of all relationships, we must do so.  When we come to the practical realization that our own worry and concern may not effect the condition of our loved-ones we must surrender to what exists. In doing so we release our obsessive attachments–we accept what is.  We release our attempt to control what cannot be controlled. And in that release there is a serenity which sweeps over us. 

Acceptance is a nonattachment born of living in the world and understanding that life goes on regardless of the adversity that we or our loved ones face.  It is a reluctant surrender to the reality of existence.  And underlying it is a hope, a ray of optimism that there is healing in this incarnation or the next.

THE GIFT OF OUR SENSES — The Zen of Kabbalah

It is fascinating how truth reveals itself from many sources.  While re-visiting the Zen Buddhist story of the tiger and the berry I was reminded of the Kabbalistic understanding of our role in the universe.

The Zen story is available in many variations.  Essentially an individual (usually a man) is being chased by a tiger and finds himself at the edge of a great and dangerous precipice.  He climbs down on a vine and is essentially hanging by a thread over a cavernous drop. (there is often another tiger waiting below).  While the tiger is menacing him from above, two mice begin to gnaw away at the vine.  Although death is in the air, the man spies a juicy berry on the vine.,  Letting go with one hand he reaches for the berry.  Ah,  so delicious.

Various interpretations of this story essentially lead to one conclusion.  Life is unpredictable, death and suffering inevitable.  We must enjoy beauty and sensuality when we can.  We must also not allow the weight of pain and suffering we endure to blind us to the moments of beauty and joy which are present around us.  The inability to find joy in the midst of suffering only diminishes our own experience of life.  An unopened gift cannot be appreciated.

The Kabbalistic metaphor which I blogged nearly four years ago (January 14, 2008) relates to the notion that we, human beings are "God's taste buds" in the world.

Kabbalistic thinking challenges the notion that we are born as evil, incorrigible sinners. It also challenges the belief that sensuality and pleasure are corrupting, negative forces in the universe.  In fact it asserts just the opposite.  God, the Universe, Ultimate Mind, evolution etc., etc., granted living beings the ultimate gift–the enjoyment of our senses.  It is the reward for being alive.  It is the antidote to all the suffering that "flesh is heir to".

And furthermore, it proposes that this is not only a gift for us–but for God !  We are the surrogates for God.  Through us, through our sensual enjoyment, God experiences his Creation.

We are "God's taste buds in the World".    This is one of Kabbalah's most powerful notions–we can choose how we interpret our experiences.  We can "spiritualize" the world of our senses.

But, of course, their are risks and caveats that apply to all human experience.   Sexuality is a gift.  We can choose to share it with others in a compassionate, caring, nurturing way.  Or we can use it as a tool, a weapon, a vehicle for horrendous evil.

Our ability to enjoy food and drink can be an enlightening, spiritually fulfilling experience or it can become a substitute for our longings, emptiness and despair.  Unhealthy obsessions can lead to obesity, anorexia, and a multitude of physical and psychological illness.

The material world of objects and possessions can be enjoyed and offer an opportunity for charity, sharing and gratitude.  Or they can become the source of obsession, hoarding, competition and perversion. 

Our sensual experiences are ours to embrace. Our goal is to recognize them as spiritual gifts.




TWIN VISITATIONS — Confirming a Dream A D C

Confirmed skeptics will usually dismiss an individual's claim of a dream related ADC (after-death communication) as some sort of wishful illusion. They persist in discounting such experiences despite the fact that the individual will with great certitude and conviction deny that these experiences are typical of their usual dreams.

What is characteristic of dream ADCs is the intensity of their visual content.  The details of encounters with a deceased loved one are so real and palpable that when the patient awakens they "know" that this was a true encounter.  As opposed to most dreams the individual involved will continue to recall each detail of the dream for years.

A recent discussion with one of my patients introduced an additional element of validity to the dream ADC.  John Donohue (name changed) is a 69 year old gentlemen who related the following story:  

  My brother Joe and I were always very close.  After he died in a car accident my entire family was devastated.  Joe would periodically visit me in my dreams and tell me he was in a good place.  These were so realistic that I came to believe that these were real visits from him.  I told no one about them.  One night Joe came to me and stated, 'this will be my last visit, John'  I'll be moving on to Heaven.  You don't need these anymore.'   The next morning I met my Mother for breakfast.  She blurted out.  'Joe came to me in my dreams last night.  He said he won't be coming to visit me because he's moving on to Heaven.'  We both shared tears of joy.  I never dreamt of him again.

The confirmation of these ADCs among various individuals is not unheard of.  When it occurs it certainly confounds the skeptics who have difficulty explaining them away.  I can assure the reader with great certainty that no same  individual fabricates stories about their deceased loved-ones. 

These are authentic experiences, ADCs and add evidence to the proposition that consciousness survives physical death. 



It  is intereting to look back at our life's most difficult times and realize that we survived them. 

 This is not always possible for the young for the obvious reason that their  lifetime has been relatively short.  It is for this reason that young people often do not do so well with emotional traumas. Suicide rates are horrifically high.  Every insult, loss, defeat is catastrophic for them.  They have no long term reference.  They don't realize that they can actually survive advesity and go on with their lives.

For those of us who have survived difficult times (and that includes all of us) we often look back through the cloud of time and memory and wonder how we actually did it.

And yet we know that we did.  Perhaps we possessed some kind of emotional survival mechanism.  But, of course, this is never a perfect defense.  Traumas do linger with us all.  Some are deeply suppressed, others live with on as posttraumatic distress syndrome victims.

But it is instructive to periodically recall that we did survive.  We don't need to relive the suffering to know the truth.  When new adversity arises we need to recall that we did make it through. 

That awareness can be quite healing in and of itself.


Now some time for deep introspection.  How do you treat people when it doesn't really matter? 

 Of course there is a strong hint of cynicism in this statement.  To me it ALWAYS matters how you treat people.  But for some of us it depends on who they are, whether we need them to approve of us, whether that approval will benefit us professionally or socially.

I was fortunate to be raised in a household which viewed everyone as inherently equal.  There was no particular adulation or extra respect granted someone who was was wealthy or had a particular profession.  Unquestionably those who had achieved personal and professional advancement through talent and hard work were to be congratulated.  But  much more important was their basic character.  Were they good people?   Did they respect others regardless of their social status or professional advancement?  Did they dismiss others who had not achieved their "status".

This was the perspective I inherited. 

I have been fortunate to meet particularly well-know, wealthy and accomplished individuals.  It has also been my fortune to meet ordinary, every-day people.  If I admit to "judging" people at all, it involves their basic human decency. 

 I admire those who treat others as equal when they have  nothing to gain from it.

I recall attending classes at the Kabbalah Centre in Manhattan about ten years ago.  The head rabbi Berg happened to be there before the classes began as was I.  He walked over to me and shook my hand.  I thought that was quite admirable since he didn't know me or anything about me.  What followed was, however, quite instructive.  He clearly mistook me for someone else, someone he was anticipating meeting. (Perhaps a large donor?)  He abruptly turned away from me and walked in the opposite direction, never saying anything about the strange encounter.

I would like to believe that if I had been Rabbi Berg I would have smiled, admitted that I was not the person he had expected to meet, thanked me for coming to his center and moved on.   He did none of the above.

I was rather taken aback.  Here was a supposedly spiritual man, one who had made a career of modernizing Kabbalistic teaching and bringing it to one and all.  I would have liked to have believed that he was a genuinely spiritual individual who would have respected every living being, regardless of whether or not they were the "one" he was expecting to meet.

This told me a great deal about the man himself.

I doubt the Dalai Lama would have acted in a similar manner.