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

2023-08-07 TBD 1:58:52
Gullu Singh
2023-08-09 Cultivating Wise Speech 3: Review of the Foundations of Wise Speech, and Bringing Wise Speech into Difficult or Challenging Interactions 66:45
Donald Rothberg
We first review four foundations of wise speech: (1) developing presence in the midst of communication; (2) working with the four guidelines for skillful speech developed by the Buddha; (3) bringing our mindfulness and skillful responses to our thoughts, emotions, and body states into our speech practice; and (4) empathy practice, tuning into others' and our own emotions and sense of "what matters." We then explore the importance of being with challenges and difficulties in our practice generally, and do two exercises exploring a difficult or challenging interaction with another, including working with an "empathy map." Discussion follows. (Materials on emotions [or feelings], needs, and an "empathy map" are given below, under "documents.")
Attached Files:
  • Feelings Inventory from NVC by NVC (added by Donald Rothberg) (PDF)
  • Needs Inventory from NVC by NVC (added by Donald Rothberg) (PDF)
  • Empathy Map by Donald Rothberg/Oren Jay Sofer (PDF)
2023-08-16 Cultivating Wise Speech 4: Practicing Wise in Challenging Situations, including with Social and Political Polarization 69:31
Donald Rothberg
We begin by acknowledging the importance of Wise Speech practice, and then outline four foundations of Wise Speech that we've explored in previous talks. We then review how we can bring Wise Speech into difficult or challenging situations. The last half of the talk goes further, and explores how we can bring aspects of Wise Speech into situations of social and political polarization, including in our present time in the U.S. (and other countries). We watch two brief videos. The first is a selection from "A Force More Powerful" (a 6-part series on nonviolent action), on a moment of powerful empathic yet firm speech from Diane Nash at a critical moment in the Civil Rights movement in Nashville in 1960 (go to, with the video shared going from 43:04 to 48:58). The second is a brief contemporary account of an experience of "deep canvassing" (and deep listening) by Caitlin Homrich-Kneileng in rural Michigan (go to This is followed by discussion.
2023-08-21 Living the Middle Way of Self and Not-Self 1:30:52
Nikki Mirghafori
2023-08-23 Radical Presence: Showing Up, Being There; Taking the Next Action, Part 1 1:40:21
Heidi Bourne
Includes meditation, dharma talk & 3 comments connected to the topic
2023-08-30 Radical Presence: Showing Up, Being There; Taking the Next Action, Part 2 1:29:41
Heidi Bourne
Includes meditation & dharma talk. (Group discussion has been removed).
2023-09-06 "Everything Passes? That's Terrible!" ~ Barbie (2023) 1:36:51
Sylvia Boorstein
Includes meditation, dharma talk & interwoven discussion. (Group Q/A has been removed)
2023-09-11 Cultivating the Three Refugees in Everyday Life 1:39:08
Tuere Sala
2023-09-13 "Neighbor is not a geographic term. It's a moral imperative." (Title is inspired by Joachim Prinz, President of the American Jewish Congress, who spoke at the March on Washington in 1963.) 1:17:03
Sylvia Boorstein
Includes meditation & dharma talk. (Group Q/A has been removed). Poem Reference: “Could Have” by Wislawa Szymborskas
2023-09-20 Place Your Heart Upon the Practice & Take the Next Step 1:29:21
Heidi Bourne
Includes meditation & dharma talk. (1 share has been included - all other Metta and group shares have been excluded for privacy.)
Creative Commons License