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

2022-05-18 Practicing with Fear 2 68:32
Donald Rothberg
We review briefly some of what we covered in the last session (April 27) on practicing with fear. We then explore the various types of fear reported in the group, what we find bringing mindfulness to hear, particularly what's experienced in the body and in the mind, and the importance of having antidotes to fear, when the level of fear is at a high level and our usual practices are not effective. We also point to the way that as we develop and move into new areas of learning, we also often open up to new fears that are part of the new territory. We close with a period of questions and sharing.
2022-05-25 Practicing with Fear 3 66:03
Donald Rothberg
We start by acknowledging the mass shooting in Texas that occurred yesterday, in the context of our practicing with fear, following up an earlier guided meditation and sharing (not recorded) related to the shooting. We then look generally at the three core ways of practicing with fear, going into some depth on each: (1) cultivating mindfulness and clear seeing (wisdom), (2) working with the heart practices, and (3) acting skillfully. We then focus on how the process of awakening typically involves at each new stage an opening to fear, and also mention some of the dynamics of the "Dark Night of the Soul." Lastly, we look at how to explore and work with fear related to our social world, in terms of the three ways of practicing with fear. There follows a period of discussion.
2022-06-01 What is the Bliss of Blamelessness? 1:27:49
Sylvia Boorstein
2022-06-08 Innate Nobility, interconnected Compassion and Wise Livelihood 1:20:37
Heidi Bourne
2022-06-15 By Not Clinging to Fixed Views 1:37:52
Sylvia Boorstein
2022-06-22 Practicing with Polarization, Differences, and Conflict: Six Basic Practices 68:22
Donald Rothberg
In the context of increased political polarization in the United States and many other places, we look at how, in so many settings, whether the larger political situation, or social change organizations, or spiritual communities, there is very often a lack of skill in working with differences and conflicts. We examine some of the roots of why being with differences and conflicts is hard, including widespread social conditioning to be either conflict-avoidant or conflict-indulgent, and several other core roots. We then suggest six basic practices which address these roots, including: (1) being willing to open to and explore differences and conflicts, (2) empathy, (3) working with views, (4) working with reactivity and difficult emotions, (5) wise speech, and (6) heart practices. The invitation to listeners is to practice these six (or some of the six) for the next period of time!
2022-06-27 Centering Meditation | Monday Night 26:30
Jack Kornfield
Rest in the reality of the present with mindful, loving awareness. Sit like a Buddha, steady and kind, with heart open, gracious and wise in the midst of it all. You are the loving witness; you are the steady one.
2022-06-27 Mindful Respect | Monday Night Talk 54:10
Jack Kornfield
In India, when people greet one another they put their palms together and bow, saying namaste, “I honor the divine within you.” It is a way of acknowledging your Buddha nature, who you really are. When I was training as a Buddhist monk, I witnessed an aura of straightforwardness, graciousness, and trust around my teacher Ajahn Chah. Here was a community dedicated to treating each person with respect and dignity. In the monastery, the walking paths were swept daily, the robes and bowls of the monks were tended with care. We learned to value ourselves and others equally. Whether practiced in a forest monastery or anywhere else, mindfulness practice begins by deliberately cultivating respect, starting with ourselves. When we learn to rest in our own goodness, we can see the goodness more clearly in others.
2022-06-29 Practicing with Polarization, Differences, and Conflict 2 65:26
Donald Rothberg
We explore further a number of skillful practices and dharma resources for situations involving polarization, differences, and conflict, whether internal, relational, or collective that were identified in the previous week. Two days after last week's talk, the US Supreme Court overturned Roe vs. Wade; we start by examining the nature of polarization at the social level. We look also at the possibility of belonging, community, non-polarization, and moving toward Dr. King's "beloved community," in the midst of differences. Then we focus further on the centrality of empathy and listening to those with different perspectives, offering empathy practices that complement the other practices identified in the talk. The talk is followed by discussion.
2022-07-04 Dharma and Democracy: A Talk on the Fourth of July 67:15
Donald Rothberg
On the Fourth of July, we look at the relationship between the freedoms opened up by the dharma, the teachings and practices of awakening, and by the promise and actuality of democracy, at this time of peril for democracy in the U.S. and elsewhere. Can we imagine a spiritually-grounded democracy? To respond to this question, we examine the vision of democracy, remembering both some of the words of the founders and the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: "America is essentially a dream, a dream as yet unfulfilled. It is a dream of a land where people of all races, all nationalities and all creeds can live together as brothers and sisters." We also explore the vision of dharma and awakening, including the Buddha's creation of a community separate from the prevailing caste system of his time. Yet we also need to look at the many "shadows" of both democracy and dharma, which obscure the vision and prevent its full realization. We end by pointing to a number of ways to renew, develop, and practice our visions of "spiritual democracy" in the different parts of our lives.
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