Creating a Better World from the Inside Out with Oren Jay Sofer

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Our ancestors’ village was not the global village of the 21st Century, so writes Oren Jay Sofer in the Introduction to his book, Your Heart Was Made for This. The ancient ones did not have to contend with a bombardment of reportings of mass shootings, wars, and other ecological and social catastrophes. Nor were they being doggedly chased by social media algorithms trying to convince them to consume stuff and goods that would soon be obsolete. In today’s climate of overwhelm, Sofer addresses such clear questions as: How do we find the strength and clarity necessary to engage skillfully with these immense problems of our time? What are the inner resources available to us? In our deep desire to be of help, how can qualities such as integrity, concentration, gratitude, and generosity possibly lead us to become more skillful in positive activism in the world? With practical wisdom, Sofer provides the strength and clarity in how to increase our resilience and engage more effectively with the immense problems of our times. He advises us to let our deep joy meet the world’s deep hunger and deep need. (hosted by Justine Willis Toms) 


Oren Jay Sofer teaches meditation, mindfulness, and nonviolent communication in secular and Buddhist contexts. He received his degree in comparative religion from Columbia University and is a Certified Trainer of Nonviolent Communication as well as a Somatic Experiencing Practitioner for the healing of trauma. He serves as a member of the Teachers Council of the Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Northern California. 

Oren Jay Sofer is the author of: 

  • Say What You Mean: A Mindful Approach to Nonviolent Communication (Shambala Publications 2018)
  • Your Heart Was Made for This: Contemplative Practice for Meeting a World in Crisis with Courage, Integrity & Love (Shambala Publications 2023) 

To learn more about the work of Oren Jay Sofer go to 

Topics explored in this dialogue include: 

  • How the relationship between the inner life and the outer life is intertwined
  • What contemplative practices help dissolve the illusion that the inner life and outer world are separate
  • How aspiration is a wellspring of our inner renewable energy
  • How becoming a new father is a practical example of being led by the aspiration toward being a good parent
  • How mindfulness has become a commodity
  • How mindfulness can enrich our life as well as allowing us to see our inner shadows
  • How mindfulness helped Sofer became aware of the effects of his own privilege and entitlement of being a white male
  • How the quality of empathy brings us into relationship and dissolves the sense of separation and isolation
  • Empathy is what leads the human family to build a foundation of peace
  • How we can move beyond willpower to a more sustainable and renewable wellspring of energy that comes from willingness
  • Why it is important to focus on what qualities enliven us 

Host: Justine Willis Toms   Interview Date: 10/24/2023   Program Number: 3802

Music Playlist

 From Album: Paradise Painting

Artist: Uwe Gronau

Opening Essay: Track 01 Paradise Painting
Music Break 1: Track 03 Sounds Like A Smell
Music Break 2: Track 04 A Passion Play
Music Break 3: Track 01 Paradise Painting (reprise)