Photo Credit: Mosaica Press

Title: Mastering Life – A Unique Guidebook to Jewish Enlightenment
By Rabbi Dov Ber Cohen
Mosaica Press

 

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But to the concubine-children who were Abraham’s, Abraham gave gifts; then he sent them away from Isaac, his son, while he was still alive, eastward to the land of the east.
Breishit 25:6

 

The Midrash says that these gifts were spiritual (Kabbalistic) in nature and comprised the basis of Eastern philosophy, which explains why religions and philosophies of the East have a common thread with Judaism.

In Mastering Life, Rabbi Cohen recounts his odyssey to the East after completing his Philosophy degree at Manchester, during which he spent six years in nine countries studying Eastern philosophies, before journeying to Israel and studying and embracing religious Judaism. Today, he teaches at Aish HaTorah in Jerusalem and runs his organization, Living In Tune, which provides online authentic Jewish Mindfulness courses to share the wisdom and mindfulness tools needed to live with more physical, emotional, mental and spiritual vitality, health and wellbeing.

Each chapter of Mastering Life describes Rabbi Cohen’s journey – physical and spiritual – in a different country – Laos, Korea, China, Japan – punctuated by a comparison of Eastern and Jewish wisdom and philosophy, and accompanied by tips for enlightened Jewish mastery on a variety of topics like gratitude, character refinement, and success.

After deeply exploring Eastern religion and philosophies, mastering the martial arts, and dedicating years in search of truth, self-discipline and character refinement, Rav Dov Ber Cohen recognized all these things when he encountered Torah true Judaism.

He now dedicates himself to kiruv and improving the world, using much of the knowledge and tools he gleaned in his travels to do this.

While Eastern philosophy claims that self-actualization comes through negating the physical world, Judaism teaches that it is by elevating it that one reaches the highest level of potential and closeness with G-d.

“I have found Torah Judaism to be the perfect system for us to derive the most meaning and depth out of every area of our lives, to achieve our purpose, reach our potential, correct our character flaws, find authentic joy, and make sure we are conscientiously reaching out to improve the world around us.”

Far from invalidating his experiences during his sojourn in the East, Rabbi Cohen shows us how the grueling challenges he faced gave him strength, mindfulness, self-discipline, fortitude and the ability to persevere. All of these are necessary for a truly spiritual life.

“Life, especially a great one, is not easy and comfortable, although many of us would like it to be. All achievement comes from overcoming some sort of struggle.”

Rabbi Cohen says that while everyone is searching for happiness, very few people are experiencing it and what he discovered about Judaism, that wasn’t a mainstay in any other religion he taught and studied, was simcha – happiness. There’s an emphasis on being happy in Judaism. However, the western lifestyle and mindset makes it difficult to attain and that’s where Rabbi Cohen taps into the life lessons he learned and mastered in the East – gratitude, mindfulness, self-discipline and simplicity, which he only later discovered are actually sourced in the Torah.

“Our existence is just a whole chain of present moments, influenced by the past, building to the future, yet lived only now. Therefore, if we aren’t being present, we are missing out on fully experiencing our lives, our relationship with G-d and relating to those around us.”

As I came to the book’s conclusion, I realized that I would need to reread it, perhaps several times, to get the full benefit of its wisdom. Spirituality is an ongoing journey that requires daily nourishment.

In Talmud Bavli, Massechet Megillah it says, “Rabbi Yitzchak said: If a person says to you: ‘I toiled and did not find’ – do not believe, ‘I did not toil and found’ – do not believe, ‘I toiled and found’ – believe.”

You can believe Rabbi Cohen because his was not the languid trek through India’s natural beauty, it was a strict and regimented life of pushing his physical and emotional limits every day for many years.

Many of the Torah world’s most prominent rabbis have praised this book as profound, entertaining, inspiring, and impactful. This book is so powerful because it was written by someone who’s been there and done that.

May we all merit such clarity and inner peace.

Website: www.dovber.org

Website for online Jewish Mindfulness course: www.litmindfulness.org

Online shiurim: www.soundcloud.com/dov-ber-cohen

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