At Peace in the Nirvana Room

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Every temple requires three elements: the Master’s quarters, a Dharma Hall for the master’s lectures, and a Nirvana room for the sick and, if necessary, dying. The hospital bed will be in the Nirvana room . . .

As many of you know, I am working intimately with a group of people to build a small temple in the mountains near Asheville, North Carolina. One of the features of this temple is a hospital bed . . .
 
Ours is a small group of five people, and most members of the group are older, in their early seventies. They are healthy and active, but one senses in their presence a concern about closing up their lives, the last 25 years—or fewer. Some of them dwell on this issue more than others, thinking through the minute details of elder-care, finances, and companionship. Others, however, watch the concern rear its head — as if it were a gopher peeping out from its earthy hole — hoping for it to go away as quickly as it appeared.
 
As a member of this small community, I’m vowed to take care of those who are aging.  They are my brothers and sisters, and we have shared—and continue to share—good and bad times together. Every morning we meet by conference call to study Dharma for a couple of hours, sharing our take of scolding and praise, realizing, confessing, and illuminating our true nature: inch by inch, day by day.
 
In Buddhism, there is no higher truth than this.  “For instance,” writes a Master, “We’ll make a bed equipped with all sorts of modern equipment for the sake of the sick monk who is un-free in his physical movement. And for this sick monk, we’ll wish to plant beautiful flowers and beautiful deciduous trees, whose leaves turn color in the autumn, and whose flowers bud newly in the spring. And we’ll also plant those trees whose leaves and flowers are unremarkable, but whose branches display interesting growth, with an interesting color of trunk, sense of touch on the bark, or rise of roots.” 
 
This kind of life isn’t secured by smartphone technology. It can’t be bought or scaled. Rather, it’s up to one’s self to generate it by one’s own activity in cooperation with one’s environment. We can plant a tree, but it is by the power of the soil, water, and sun that the tree grows and brings its fruit and shade. So it behooves us to ask from time to time: What is the end for which I’m living? What will be the result of my current actions, habits, and life?
 
 As it happens, I recently came across an 18-minute documentary, Being 97. It is about a dying professional philosopher who taught at the University of California at Santa Barbara, and who wrote, among other things, a book entitled, Death. And interestingly—though perhaps not surprisingly—he concludes that the meaning of life and concern about death are not topics that can be resolved by reasoning. In one of the more poignant moments of the film (at 15:01), three weeks before his death,  sitting in the winter sun of his Santa Barbara porch he ruminates on the splendor of trees. He says, “somehow, seeing the trees this time is a transcendent experience. I see how marvelous it is. I’ve had these here all along, but have I really appreciated them?” And then he laments, “I have not. This makes the fact of death more difficult to accept.”  
 
What I take away from this is that the meaning of our lives is to live them well. And I hope that you are doing that. For if we’re living well, we’ll die well. Can there be any more purpose to life than helping others to live and die well, from generation to generation, person to person, and mind to mind?

To watch the Dogwood blooming through our window with the warm body of the friend with whom we’ve spent our lives studying truth.

Is there a higher human achievement than this?

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6 Reviews on Bodhi Heart

Unfortunately, Yelp doesn’t show all of our client’s reviews on their website. 18 of 50, almost half of them, are hidden. But we want you to be able to see them all. See the excerpts below or read the full review by clicking the “Read on Yelp” button and logging into your Yelp account.

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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