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Retreat Dharma Talks at Spirit Rock Meditation Center

Metta Retreat: Cultivating the Wise, Awakened, and Responsive Heart

Mettā, or lovingkindness, practice is the cultivation of the intention of benevolence as the orientation of our heart and mind. It is also a path to wisdom. We develop our capacity for mettā through meditation (which is practiced steadfastly on retreat) in order for it to manifest in an ongoing way in our daily lives.

In this retreat, we will learn the formal practice of mettā along with its companion practices of compassion, joy, and equanimity. All four of these practices – known as the Brahma Viharas or Divine Abodes – strengthen self-confidence, self-acceptance, and steadiness of mind and heart, revealing our fundamental disposition toward kindness. We will be joined on one day of the retreat by Sylvia Boorstein, a beloved, longtime teacher of mettā.

2022-01-10 (8 days) Spirit Rock Meditation Center

2022-01-11 The Nature of Metta and Metta Practice 52:10
Donald Rothberg
Metta practice is one version of the ancient vocation to live from kindness and love, that is found across spiritual traditions. In Buddhist tradition, it is in the family of “heart practices” that are called the brahmavihara: Lovingkindness, compassion, appreciative joy, and equanimity. In this context, we explore how metta practice both opens us up to this deep kindness and warmth and to what is the way of metta. We also examine some of the challenges of metta practice.
2022-01-12 How to Meet Obstacles in Metta Meditation--(Retreat at Spirit Rock) 61:42
Kaira Jewel Lingo
We begin with metta as heart training, a practice of awakening and growing our heart and explore how our practice of metta can also support and help to transform others. Then we move into obstacles to metta meditation and how to practice with them, covering when metta feels mechanical, distractions, grief, doubt, anger, and struggling to offer metta to ourselves. We close looking at how metta can be a protection and also how the Earth can be a source and inspiration for metta.
2022-01-13 Metta and Equanimity 55:23
Gullu Singh
Reflections on how the cultivation of Metta is a cornerstone of building equanimity in which the mind is impartial. When we cultivate a mind that can radiate metta to the Stranger and the Enemy with the same wholeheartedness as to the Benefactor and Friend that same quality of mind can meet any experience with ease of heart and balance of mind.
2022-01-14 Metta and Forgiveness 61:05
Donald Rothberg
We first explore several important themes in metta practice: (1) how metta practice can be seen as a training in learning to “lead” with the heart; (2) ways of working with difficult experiences, such as anger, fear, and the presence of the judgmental mind, that can arise in the “purification” process connected with metta practice; (3) how metta practice opens us to our radiant depths; and (4) the nature of metta practice with the “difficult person” and its connection with forgiveness practice. Then we explore the nature of forgiveness—clarifying what it is and isn’t; distinguishing between forgiveness as an outer, interpersonal and social process, giving several examples, including from the Heiltsuk indigenous tradition and South Africa, and forgiveness as an inner practice; and identifying some of dynamics of inner forgiveness practice.
2022-01-15 Justice is What Love Looks Like in Public: Celebrating Dr. King's Legacy of Love 58:48
Kaira Jewel Lingo
Given on Dr. King's birthday, we explore how we can each give rise to bodhicitta and support the realization of justice: the expression of love in public. Kaira Jewel first shares about the personal impact of Dr. King on her life, introducing her father, Al Lingo, who makes a cameo appearance to briefly share about working with Dr. King in the Civil Rights Movement in the South. She then explores the friendship between Thich Nhat Hanh and Dr. King and their common effort to build the Beloved Community. Then we look at how caring for ourselves is caring for others and vice versa, and how bodhicitta is an inexhaustible source of energy and confidence, because it helps us clarify what our ultimate concern is. We end with how we can engage in activism, and work on behalf of the world in a way that doesn’t lead to burnout.
2022-01-16 The Five Recollections and the Cultivation of Metta in Daily Life--(Retreat at Spirit Rock) 67:19
Gullu Singh
This Dharma Talk reflects on the 5 subjects for frequent recollections (also called the 5 remembrances): (1) I am of the nature to age, I have not gone beyond aging, (2) I am of the nature to sicken, I have not gone beyond sickness, (3) I am of the nature to die, I have not gone beyond dying (4) All that is mine, beloved and pleasing, will become otherwise, Will become separated from me (4) I am the owner of my kamma, heir to my kamma, born of my kamma, related to my kamma, abide supported by my kamma. Whatever kamma I shall do for good or for ill, of that I will be the heir. This is offered as a chant as a way to connect the teaching to the heart and the body. The talk then explores the liberative idea of Kamma (Karma) where we have more and more agency through the practice to seed our intentions so that our acts of body, speech and mind are more wholesome, skillful, and leading to the alleviation of suffering for ourselves and others. The talk then explores various strategies for the cultivation of mettā in daily life.
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