Who Else Wants to Live?

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The aim of mindfulness—true mindfulness—is existential . . .

It sometimes happens that bits from seemingly unrelated zones of life — (cooking, philosophizing, clothing, cleaning, creating, accounting) – coalesce. 
The virtue of uncertainty about the impact COVID-19 has—or is going to have — on every aspect of our economic, psychological, and gastronomic life, is, unfortunately for us, too seldom handled constructively. 
We don’t often touch upon the subject of what we don’t or cannot know because the things we don’t know don’t make money.

Magic Sells

Money is made by using knowledge. Give somebody something, even if that something is an experience of ‘magic’—as in the case of The Walt Disney Company (with a 2019 net U.S. revenue of $69.6 billion.)—and you will make money. Magic sells. 
Once I’ve consumed an experience of magic, I can tell people about it. I have knowledge about it. Maybe that makes me more interesting. Or gives me insight. Or power. 
Many ‘things’ are sold. And all of these things help us do more things. They are instrumental to our getting something, somewhere, or someone. Irons, clocks, smartphones, memes, Ted talks, jewelry, cars, data reports, houses, educations, perfumes, spiritual experiences, etc. help us attain what we want. And just as our Divine Lord or Lady sows the seeds of life on earth, so humanity sows the seeds of knowledge on the soil of culture from which the flowers and vegetables we call humans and the gardens of human civilization grow.

Faced With Oblivion 

But when we’re faced with oblivion, with the source of knowledge instead of knowledge itself—that unknown useless thing from which inspiration, insight, or the so-called flash of genius that moves great figures like Buddha, or, less loftily, if you like, such poets as Mozart, Lincoln, and Descartes—we pause. 
Confronted by that source from which all life arises — but which we cannot know or use in the way we use, say, actuarial tables — we squint and wonder and ask ourselves what the use of such a thing as primordial ignorance might be. And in this pause, we either turn back to the instrumental world and conspire a way to use even this most sacred emptiness, or we linger for a while in awe. We stay for a moment in the company of those who consider the nature of this source that cannot be known. And express it in song.

William & Marcel 

In a passage describing what it is to wake from deep sleep, in the beginning of the third chapter of the fourth volume, Cities of the Plain, from his unfinished seven-volume masterpiece, In Search of Lost Time, Proust writes: 

“What, then, is a memory which we do not recall? Or, indeed, let us go further. We do not recall our memories of the last thirty years; but we are wholly steeped in them; why then stop short at thirty years, why not extend this previous life back before our birth? If I do not know a whole section of the memories that are behind me, if they are invisible to me, if I do not have the faculty of calling them to me, how do I know whether in that mass that unknown to me there may not be some that extend back much further than my human existence? If I can have in me and round me so many memories which I do not remember, this oblivion (a de facto oblivion, at least, since I have not the faculty of seeing anything) may extend over a life which I have lived in the body of another man, even on another planet. A common oblivion obliterates everything. But what, in that case, is the meaning of that immortality of the soul the reality of which the Norwegian philosopher [an indirect reference here to the French philosopher Henri Bergson] affirmed? The being that I shall be after death has no more reason to remember the man I have been since my birth than the latter to remember what I was before it.”

And from across the English Channel in 1610, about 312 years before Proust, Shakespeare writes:

We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with a sleep.”  – The Tempest 4.1.156-158

Life Disrupted

When a disruption like COVID 19 strikes, it’s not different from when, in ordinary life, we lose something or someone dear. For let’s make no mistake about it—the life that we knew before 2020 has been lost. Life is disrupted. We grieve for what we cannot believe we no longer have. And for a moment—given the wherewithal, courage, interest, and spiritual resources to do so—we let ourselves remember the infinite oblivion on which our fragile lives float.
The aim of mindfulness—true mindfulness—is existential. Though it’s mostly taught as an instrumental exercise to be used as a weapon against anxiety, depression, or stress, the real and lasting effect of mindfulness can only be had to the extent that it is used to squarely face that “undefined mass of sleep” (Proust) in which our lives take place. 


Those who have the linguistic and contemplative capacity to hold their life in focus while facing the inescapable, uncomfortable fact of death without succumbing to fear or distraction are not only the people who will be remembered, they are the people with the ability to inspire others — in the past, present, and future — to live. 
You might say, as I’ve heard, that you don’t care about death. Well, if that’s true, then please send me all your money at once! In short, I find this claim dishonest, made only by people with meager imaginations or little interest in life. E.g., ghosts. And I trust that no one reading thus far lives with such a spectral attitude. 

My Friend Leonard Cohen 

We live in a dream. This is what we realize upon awakening. We ought to help each other make this dream a brilliant one. This is the practice and purpose of mindfulness rightly understood.
In the meantime, I’ll leave you with a link to a video by my late friend Leonard Cohen, another artist, with whom I assiduously practiced, laughed, ate, faced death, and sang :
Leaving the Table: link

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6 Reviews on Bodhi Heart

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Joshua Levy
Joshua Levy
I have bee seeing Soken for while now. If you have some sort of lingering physcial malady go see him, don't wait. He's pretty busy and it might take some time to get in so call right now. Some of my injuries and pain that I have had for years have been greatly relieved by his rolfing work and he's also just a great human being. I would totally go see him for his other services as well. Rolfing doesn't need to be super intense though it can be. He will calibrate to what you need
Philippa Newman
Philippa Newman
I cannot recommend Soken highly enough. He will literally transform your life. I first came to meet Soken for his Rolfing services when I had been living with unbearable lower back pain for over a year. Numerous visits to doctors, various x-rays and months of physical therapy later, I was no better off and desperate to find an alternative solution. Having read about Rolfing as a technique, I discovered Soken's practice in NYC. I am now back pain free and able to do things I thought no longer possible. As I learned more about Soken during our Rolfing sessions, I became interested in his spiritual life coaching /contemplative guidance program. His carefully tailored program has given me enormous insight, and I am a better person, mother and leader as a result. Soken has a calming, peaceful and reassuring presence, and I am extremely grateful to have met him when I did.
A Rice
A Rice
Soken is an amazing coach that will get to the essence of your issues. Difficult issues seem to become easier handle talking to Soken. He is a great coach to have, especially in these times. He is clear and ensures you leave each session with an understanding and a plan of action.
Maya Kumits
Maya Kumits
I’ve been going to Soken for years for my bodywork and sending everyone I know to him too. The work he does with his hands is incredible - I cannot say enough good things. This review, however, is for life coaching. I was faced with a decision recently that I was having trouble making. I was going in circles. I kept changing my mind because I ultimately had no idea what to do. I felt lost and confused. I reached out to Soken for help and was so glad I did. After struggling for weeks trying to figure out the right thing to do, a 1-hour call with him gave me the clarity I needed. By answering a series of thoughtful questions and hearing my answers reflected back to me, I was able to untangle the signal from the noise. By the end of the call, the answer revealed itself. It’s been a few weeks since our call and I still feel great about the decision. I’m so grateful to Soken for helping me with this and won’t hesitate to reach out again for more life coaching.
Marni Gordon
Marni Gordon
I highly recommend Soken as he's a fantastic coach! Soken really helped me set clear goals and measures, helped me to get to insight, and ensures that I have a strong action plan with accountability in every session. Soken's coaching helped me overcome the fear of taking the next step. Soken is sensitive and provides compassionate support through the process.
faraz khan
faraz khan
Soken is an exceptionally intelligent person who seems to understand any multiple of bodily issues. I've been struggling with a reoccurring injury the past few years, and already after the first session I can sense a lot of good has been done. I highly recommend him to anyone 😊
Shonni Silverberg
Shonni Silverberg
I got to know Soken as a client of his Rolfing practice, where his expertise was immeasurably valuable in treating my plantar fasciitis. During the COVID crisis, Soken introduced me to meditation. Practicing under his guidance has been extremely helpful in these turbulent times. Shonni J. Silverberg, M.D., New York, NY
Anaina Mascovich
Anaina Mascovich
The meditation guidance and talk last night was phenomenal. I have had instruction on Metta meditation before, but your explanation offered so much wisdom and direct understanding. Much Gratitude to You Soken.
Lena Elkousy
Lena Elkousy
This review is long overdue, and I would give 10 stars if I could. I cannot recommend Soken's work highly enough. Rolfing is an investment in my physical and emotional health that I wish I had made long ago. To put it quite simply, Soken has changed my life. When we work together, he listens to what I say and what my body says, and works with me right where I am. He is a true healer. In our first series of sessions, he permanently relieved shoulder/neck pain and unfurled a chronic knot that no amount of years of deep tissue massage could even touch. One side of my ribcage was bound with fascia and scar tissue from physical and emotional trauma, to the point that I couldn't breathe into my lower right lung without feeling cramping in surrounding muscles. Over a few sessions, he set me free, and you can actually see the difference in the shape of my ribs. In a series other sessions, he relieved sharp cramping in my feet that I've dealt with since childhood. As a yogi and meditator myself, I find Soken's integrative approach quite profound. Do yourself a favor and an act of self love: and go see this wizard.
Stella Nyla Jules
Stella Nyla Jules
Soken has been transformational in improving and diminishing the increasing pain in my neck and shoulder that traditional physical therapies failed to resolve. His patience, caring, and intuition are top notch.


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