Life after Death: Is it possible?

December 29th, 2011 by Michael Tabor
Before responding to this question kindly view the video below (if you haven’t seen it already – the video has gone viral) in which you will see via flash card a boy with a fatal heart condition explain in heart wrenching detail his near-death experiences.
What makes the video all the more poignant is the fact that the youngster died on Christmas day this year shortly after he made this tape.
There have been numerous documented cases in which a person, who right before he or she dies, has the very same experience: sees a very bright light (sometimes a tunnel), witnesses a flashback of one’s life, and has an intense euphoric feeling. Steve Jobs said aloud, “oh wow, oh wow, oh wow’” and then died.
A person who believes in life after death will boldly pronounce that the individual is going to heaven or something of that sort. On the other hand, a secularist will provide an elaborate explanation of what typically happens to human beings shortly before death, e.g. the part of the brain responsible for vision is stimulated which accounts for the bright lights; and mercifully, human nature has an innate mechanism which discharges massive amounts of “feel good” neurotransmitters such as endorphins, serotonin, GABA, etc . which is why a dying human being feels a sense of peace and euphoria.
So WhadaYaThink ? What do you think? I’m not sure where I stand on this. I would be assured of an afterlife if Abraham Lincoln, George Carlin, and Steve jobs all came back from the dead and proclaimed to the world that there’s more to come. Personally, I don’t think it really matters once the person is dead. Death which is not even a state of being (obviously) is not intrinsically bad and if there is something after this (this actually scares me more – what if the life after this is bad – ahh I don’t believe in a “hell” from a spiritual or scientific standpoint. A benevolent God doesn’t like pain and a painful existence serves no purpose or utilitarian function for a neutral universe ) so be it.

Three Part Harmony

December 26th, 2011 by Magdalena Tabor
She speaks seven languages
And sings like an angel,
Though I love her as much
When she is silent
Standing in a corner of the room
In the shadows
With a glint of sunlight
That plays off her belly,
Rich and round
As her voice.
A drumming of rain
That breaks into thunder and sunlight
All at once.
The delicate rays
Melting icicles
Off shimmering snow capped mountains.
A drip, drip, drip.
Like a finger
On the soul.
He’s no beggar
With his house open
Collecting coins.
A shadow of himself
Velvet lined.
Oh, the strains of his voice
Fill the crowded vestibule
With images of lands
You’ve yet to imagine,
That hints of the gypsy

Newt Gingrich: Is The GOP That desperate?

December 19th, 2011 by Michael Tabor
It is clearly understood that if Newt Gingrich were to become our next president, it would certainly be any true democrats’ worst nightmare but my question is do republicans really want this man as our leader of the freest and greatest country on the planet.
The United States is in the process of clawing its way out of the worst economic downturn since The Great Depression (1929 – 1941) and it is understandable that the right wants leadership party change in the worst way, but Newt Gingrich? This man, the very same unspeakably unethical hypocrite who was the loudest and most obnoxious critic of the then President Bill Clinton for having inappropriate sexual relations when he himself at the very same time was having an affair with a young woman while his first wife (first of three wives…so far) lay dying in the hospital? Wow, the republicans never cease to amaze me how low and vile they can become.
Even if utilitarianism is the republicans calling card and they freely dismiss ethics and morality utterly (oh, sorry except for fetuses which have not developed consciousness and mature nerve endings to know and feel pain), Newt Gingrich was an absolute failure as Speaker of the House. Here are the facts:
1. Newt Gingrich did not deliver on what he promised with the notorious “Contract of America” ; he managed to bring all 10 issues to vote within his 100 days but he failed to enact most of it into law on his watch. (Easier said than done Newt! Next time a republican criticizes Obama, keep in mind that we live in a democracy and there is a partisan congress with which every president must deal.)
2. As part of the ‘Contract…’, Newt of course included the attacking of the poor and needy by trying to reform welfare. (When was the last time Newt missed a meal? I would love to see Gingrich spend a week on the streets, in the ghetto, in the projects, in a shelter with no money, waiting on a soup line for an hour as his distended [in Newt’s case it wouldn’t be distended from lack of food but rather gluttony, e.g. pizza, donuts, and beer or just excess]stomach churns with hunger, etc. It is so easy to pick on the poor and call them lazy. Although there is certainly a very small percentage of people who are truly “lazy leeches” but more often than not there is a larger picture i.e., what is to be done with an illiterate stutterer who is poor and was raised in a dysfunctional family with no structure?
3. As part of punishing the unfortunate poor and destitute, Gingrich suggested that we as a society force these lowly folks to work for the meager subsistence wages. I was shocked to discover that “Fat Newt” was a former history teacher. Didn’t he ever hear of the Poor Law in 1834, which resulted in the horrible “workhouses”? Charles Dickens wrote at length about the horrid conditions of workhouses and the impossibility of breaking free of them once a person got locked into them. A more humane and practical solution for the poor would be to educate them,; teach them real and tangible work skills, etc.
4. Another promise, which Gingrich promised but failed to come through on, was the balancing of the budget of 1996.
5. The portly, paunchy, pot-bellied republican glutton with 3 chins (one chin per wife), also insisted on implementing stricter conditions for food stamp eligibility – nice guy!
I can certainly write another few thousand words about how profoundly Newt Gingrich failed and how terrible a person he is but I think I made my point. So now it’s your turn – WhaDaYaThink ? What do you think ? Is Mitt Romney your choice or do you want to see the bloated buffoon be the republican nominee. I think the wisest choice would be to stick with our current great president – and re-elect Barack Obama and let him work his magic.

The Spirit Of Christmas

December 15th, 2011 by Magdalena Tabor

“I am the Spirit of Christmas Past”.  “Long past?”  “No, your past.” These are the words exchanged between one of the three ghostly visitors and Ebenezer Scrooge in a movie version of “A Christmas Carol”. As the years go by, I too am urged by this gentle spirit to reawaken my most cherished childhood memories.
A baby boomer of the  Five and Dime era, I was shuffled off to Woolworth’s on one occasion to meet with Santa Claus. Four or five years old and awestruck at the imposing white bearded figure in the red suit, I had lost my ability to speak. To be sure, I was terrified. I couldn’t  tell the man what I wanted so I merely nodded my head at his every suggestion whether I wanted the thing or not. That’s how I ended up with Thumbelina, a poplular doll at the time. I didn’t want Thumbelina, didn’t like Thumbelina, yet there she was come Christmas Eve. This was my first life’s lesson to speak up when you want something or you just may end up with something else. Oddly enough, I wanted Chatty Cathy, a “talking” doll.
In time, Thumbelina was given a hair cut making her even less appealing. I couldn’t understand why her hair didn’t grow back. Or why the hole I bored into the back of another doll’s neck didn’t produce the desired result when the string I shoved into it was pulled. Even a fervent Hail Mary didn’t do the trick. I was still dreaming of Chatty Cathy.
As children go, my brother and I were relatively unspoiled, having parents who weren’t well off in our early years. I never understood my mother’s apology years later for not having a lot to give us at Christmas. I thought the things we got were great; a doll of some kind (even a nameless one), a coloring book with a brand new box of crayons, a game, all of which could be purchased at the 5 and 10 cent store for practically nothing. For me, the real magic was the tree, delivered fully decorated by Santa himself during our blissful hours of angelic sleep. The fragrant boughs were laden with precious glass ornaments, multitudes of silver icicles and German chocolates wrapped in foil, all glittering in the moonlight. Underneath, amid the snowy cotton folds, lay baby Jesus made of wax and ensconced in a beautiful wax box. My youngest cousin left her teeth marks in his head probably thinking he was made of candy. I was never so vexed at the sight of his mangled head in the years following. This was the same little girl who poked her finger through every delicate glass ornament within reach until an obliging adult finally heard me voicing my apparent displeasure.
Christmas Eve was always spent with cousins who lived in a neighboring town. Once there was such a blizzard with drifting snow, it was thought we couldn’t go. Not to be disappointed, we piled into the car after tying our Flexible Flyer sleds to the bumper. Since no one else was on the road it was deemed safe enough for the car to pull us along for a couple of blocks. Arriving at our destination flushed and exhilarated, we were met with surprise and delight from those believing we would never attempt the journey. As a child, the sight of falling snow under an old cast iron streetlight was pure magic. It still is. The tiny encrusted flakes sparkle like diamond broaches on winter’s mantle of white.
“I am the Spirit of Christmas Past” urging you to succumb to the age old tradition, to give someone something to look back on. Donate a toy to any organization in need of distributing some holiday magic. Or what about contributing to a local food drive, The Salvation Army, or even a church breadline? Christmas brings out the best in people, making us more human and at times elevating mankind to near angel status by our random acts of kindness. At the very least, it will make your spirit soar.

Monday Morning

December 12th, 2011 by Magdalena Tabor
Grey sheep
Flock the sky.
Trees, now stripped,
Flex their muscles
Or pose statuesque,
Mired in mystery.
And the pond,
A beveled glass,
Floats a swan,
One to the other.

Mindfulness: The Art of Living Well

December 5th, 2011 by Michael Tabor

I have been a student of eastern philosophy for more than three decades and I am delighted to see that the practice of Mindfulness is very much in vogue today. One doesn’t even have to concern oneself with the historicity of Mindfulness nor even be remotely interested in Buddhism out of which this very simple, though at the same time very difficult and yet prodigiously effective practice sprung. As a matter of fact many psychiatrists and psychologists have recommended Mindfulness to their patients as a way of reducing stress, anxiety, and dealing with depression.
Many people have stated that Mindfulness has dramatically changed his or her life for the better; whether it is practiced by someone who suffers from some anxiety and mild depression to very serious psychiatric afflictions such as paranoid schizophrenia. (Last week The New York Times profiled a man who was diagnosed with having schizophrenia but was able to cope and function as a productive solid citizen, he is currently employed full time as a computer programmer, with the aid of medication and the daily practice of mindfulness.)
So what is Mindfulness? Is this something for you? Can you incorporate this sort of practice into your life and busy schedule? The answer to all three of these questions is a resounding yes. Mindfulness in a sense is a form of mediation, one doesn’t have to set aside a half – hour or more and sit in the lotus position counting one’s breath. Mindfulness is actually a way of life and a new way of looking at the world. Ideally, a person ought to be mindful every waking moment. The best definition for mindfulness is simply (it’s actually very hard) bringing your attention to the present and paying careful attention purposely and in a particular way to the present moment; the particular way is to be nonjudgmental and to except what is true and real without any pre-conceived notions or delusions. This is the reason a Zen Buddhist very often refers to this “state of mind” as Beginner’s mind or experiencing life as if for the very first time. One can be an eighty-year-old man with a lifetime of experiences and memories and still live almost child-like in terms of being curious, open, and accepting what you perceive to be the absolute truth – life is exactly what it appears to be, nothing less and nothing more.
Although Buddhism has been around for 2500 years, the concept and idea of cherry – picking, so to speak , the utilitarian down-to-earth nuts and bolts aspects of how to live a good life without adhering to and embracing the philosophy and religion of Buddhism, was put forth by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn who founded the Minfulness-Based Stress Reduction program at the University of Massachusetts to treat the chronically ill. This was a hugely successful and clearly effective way of maintaining good health physically, emotionally, psychologically, and even spiritually combining western medicine and the eternal truths from the East (from the East but they’re truths that are eternal and universal) about the human condition.
So tomorrow morning when you have your morning cup of coffee, experiment with mindfulness. Drinking coffee or tea is a good way of beginning your Mindfulness training. There are actually scores of books written about Zen and not only drinking tea but also the preparation involved which is sort of a ritual for many Easterners. (Now Westerners too, thanks to the proliferation of Zen and Mindfulness). Say to yourself, “This is the beginning of a new and wonderful day; this particular day has never happened before and never will happen again. Be mindful of this and be grateful. Smell the aroma of the coffee before taking your first sip, feel the porcelain touch your lips, take note of the weight of the cup, let all of your senses open up, and come to life. Nothing else matters at this particular moment and time but you and your cup of coffee. Be at peace and be totally present. If a thought, worry or concern crops up do not dismiss it, simply acknowledge it, accept it and gently bring yourself back to drinking your coffee or tea. Thoughts, feelings, awareness of your surroundings is all normal, the key is to be in the present and greet each feeling and sensation with curiosity, openness, total acceptance and feel the connection and relationship you have with your cup of coffee and ultimately with everything that exists and is in the universes. Yes, life is good and for these few minutes, there is nothing but this. You’re as close to the truth as the Dali Lama is as he meditates to greet the morning. “
So WhaDaYaThink ? What Do You Think ? This seems like a very simple exercise in Mindfulness but I can assure you, invariably a multitude of unwanted thoughts will permeate you being – just let them come and go, eventually you will be the master of your thoughts and you will be more peaceful, more at rest and yet more alive than ever. Peace on Earth.