The greatest gift is the
gift of the teachings
Retreat Dharma Talks at Spirit Rock Meditation Center

Monday and Wednesday Talks

Regular weekly talks given at the lower Spirit Rock meditation hall

Spirit Rock Meditation Center

2021-12-29 Inquiry as a Factor of Awakening in Formal Meditation and Daily Life 66:41
Donald Rothberg
Inquiry is one of the Seven Factors of Awakening, and can be a crucial factor in our practice, leading to greater energy, interest, and learning. Yet we may believe that meditation should be about "not thinking." We explore how we need to be able to not be ruled by thinking; this can make it possible then to use thinking and question fruitfully in inquiry. In the talk, we outline five modes of inquiry, going into depth on two of them: (1) bringing inquiry into our mindfulness practice in several ways, and (2) listening deeply, particularly through the body and emotions (in the "dropping down practice") when there are repetitive thoughts and narratives. After the talk, there is discussion.
2022-01-05 Guided Meditation Exploring Several Forms of Inquiry 2 35:53
Donald Rothberg
After a period of settling, we work with two main forms of inquiry or investigation (one of the Seven Factors of Awakening). The first is inquiry through mindfulness when an experience has some duration: Asking what's happening and exploring what's going in the body, the emotions, and the story-line or narrative. The second is inquiry through working with a teaching. Here we work with a simple teaching, coming from the Four Noble Truths: "If there's suffering (or struggle), where's the attachment (or fixed idea, etc.)?" We explore these in formal meditation; they can also be applied in the flow of daily life.
2022-01-05 Inquiry as a Factor of Awakening in Formal Meditation and Daily Life 2 64:10
Donald Rothberg
In this second exploration of the nature of inquiry or investigation, we first review some of what was covered in the first talk. We situate inquiry or investigation within the teaching of the Seven Factors of Awakening, as one of the three "energizing" factors. After outlining five modes of inquiry and reviewing the first two--inquiring with mindfulness and deep listening--covered last time, we explore a third mode of inquiry--using a teaching to guide one's practice--pointing to using several possible teachings as examples. We then focus on a fourth mode--radical questioning--giving several examples. We end with a period of discussion and dialogue.
2022-01-13 Intention, Commitment & Determination: Balancing the 3 Legged Stool 1:31:00
Heidi Bourne
2022-01-19 Supporting Equanimity: I Talk to My Friends. 1:56:03
Sylvia Boorstein
2022-01-27 Tenderness and a Tribute to Thich Nhat Hanh 1:11:38
Sylvia Boorstein
2022-02-02 A Guided Meditation in the Manner of Thich Nhat Hanh 36:47
Donald Rothberg
A 35-minute or so guided meditation in the manner of Thich Nhat Hanh (connected with the talk honoring Thich Nhat Hanh). The guided meditation is mostly silent, with three short periods of guidance, using these words: (1) Breathing in, I know I am breathing in. Breathing out, I know I am breathing out. Breathing in, I calm myself. Breathing out, I feel at ease. (2) Breathing in, I calm body and mind. Breathing out, I smile. Dwelling in the present moment I know this is the only moment. Bring body and mind back to the present moment. So that you do not miss the appointment with life. (3) Breathing in, I see myself as a flower. Breathing out, I feel fresh. Breathing in, I see myself as a mountain. Breathing out, I feel solid. Breathing in, I see myself as still water. Breathing out, I reflect all that is. Breathing in, I see myself as space. Breathing out, I feel free.
2022-02-02 Honoring the Great Teacher of Interbeing and Engaged Buddhism, Thich Nhat Hanh 65:16
Donald Rothberg
There is weaving together in the talk of several areas, including (1) Donald's stories of his encounters with and learning from Thich Nhat Hanh, starting in 1987; (2) the life story of Thich Nhat (1926-2022); and (3) exploring Thich Nhat Hanh's core teachings, including his teachings about "interbeing," engaged Buddhism, mindfulness, and "being peace." There is a slide show of Thich Nhat Hanh's life shown during the talk available as a pdf file. The talk is followed by the first 3 minutes and 19 seconds of a video of Thich Nhah Hanh talking about "War and Peace Within" ( and a period of discussion.
2022-02-09 Donald Rothberg and Yassir Chadly in Dialogue on Buddhist and Sufi Perspectives and Practices: A Gathering of Wisdom, Love, and Respect 66:34
Donald Rothberg
Yassir Chadly, a long-time friend of Donald's who is a Sufi teacher, musician, and former Olympic swimmer, originally from Morocco, is in dialogue with Donald, and then, during the last part of the session, with the whole group. We explore Yassir's background, the three main levels of practice in Sufism, practicing in Sufism with what arises in the heart, parallels between Sufi and Buddhist practice, how to make sense of how and why some act negatively in the name of a religion (we discuss Islam and Buddhism), the unity of traditions in their deep mystical expressions, and the need to work together across traditions in our current world.
Attached Files:
2022-02-17 Take the Path of Love 68:30
Heidi Bourne
Creative Commons License