The greatest gift is the
gift of the teachings
 
Dharma Talks Access for Retreatants at Spirit Rock Meditation Center

Monday and Wednesday Talks

Regular weekly talks given at the lower Spirit Rock meditation hall
Spirit Rock Meditation Center

  
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2020-05-06 From the Ordinary Mind to the Buddha Mind 17: Transforming Reactivity 1 68:42
  Donald Rothberg
We begin with some remembering of our current context of crisis, and the possibility of having major learning and transformation come out of this time—personally, relationally, and collectively—rather than simply going back to the old “normal.” Then we continue to explore the different dimensions of awakening from our habits and conditioning, here looking at what may be the most central dimension—transforming dukkha (or “reactivity”—compulsively grasping after the pleasant, pushing away the unpleasant); the Buddha said once, “I teach dukkha and the end of dukkha.” We examine: (1) the nature of dukkha or reactivity, grounding in the core teachings of Dependent Origination and the Two Arrows; (2) the nature of non-reactivity, or freedom or liberation or responsiveness; and (3) how to practice to transform reactivity, identifying six ways of practicing, and focusing here on the first four.
2020-05-13 From the Ordinary Mind to the Buddha Mind 18: Transforming Reactivity 2 69:47
  Donald Rothberg
We first review the main themes from last time: (1) the nature of reactivity, and dukkha as reactivity in the Buddha's teachings, (2) the nature of awakening and freedom as liberation from reactivity, and (3) four main ways to practice with reactivity. We then look more deeply, noticing that very commonly reactivity is mixed with insight, discernment, intelligence, or something important or valuable, as when I become reactive when someone doesn't keep an agreement, or at social injustice. We explore how to transform reactivity by separating out what is valuable from the reactivity, in a number of ways, so that we can keep the insight or intelligence, and use it as the basis for wise, compassionate action. We close the talk with Eve Decker singing, "Simple Truth," about skillful ways to work with reactive self-judgment, and then have a period of discussion, including questions.
2020-05-27 From the Ordinary Habitual Mind to the Buddha-Mind 19: Transforming Reactivity 3 65:50
  Donald Rothberg
After a review of our last two sessions exploring the nature of dukkha as reactivity and how to practice to transform reactivity, in the context of the Buddha's teachings of Dependent Origination and the Two Arrows, we explore a third aspect of practice. Some of our experiences of reactivity, particularly those in which there are repetitive and habitual patterns, sometimes open up to reveal old and relatively unconscious material, part of our "ignorance," giving us the chance to access and transform such material. This can occur, for example, when there is trauma, or when there are limiting beliefs originating from childhood (or sometimes later) related to psychological and/or social conditioning. A general model is given of four steps in the transformation of such material.
2020-06-17 Buddhist Practice and the Transformation of Racism 1: Five Perspectives 66:26
  Donald Rothberg
We open up five perspectives, the first three of which have more to do with understanding and the last two of which have more to do with practice and action. The five perspectives are: (1) remembering the Buddha's elimination of caste within his community; (2) understanding how greed, hatred (including racism), and delusion are not just personal but are also institutionalized; (3) understanding through looking at US history how race is a construction (with terrible consequences)-- both initially in the 17th century and later, commonly linked with divide-and-conquer strategies by those with economic and political power; (4) how our ethical practice calls us not just not to harm in our personal actions, but also not to let harm be done by others; and (5) the identification of different dimensions of transformative practice. The talk is followed by discussion.
2020-06-24 Buddhist Practice and the Transformation of Racism 2 65:20
  Donald Rothberg
Traditional Buddhist training occurs through development in wisdom, ethics, and meditation. We use this model to help us to understand Buddhist practice that aims to transform racism. We start by reviewing briefly the first three perspectives offered in the previous week, which fall under training in wisdom. Then we look at how ethical practice and in particular the practice of non-harming can be the basis for action, based on an understanding of ethical practice as guiding both one's personal behavior and one's responses to harm in one's communities and society. Lastly, we explore meditative training and how in particular mindfulness and compassion play central roles in the transformation of racism.
2020-07-15 Deepening Our Daily Life Practice in the Pandemic 1 38:28
  Donald Rothberg
Our current crises present both challenges and opportunities. We look at three main ways to deepen our practice at this time, focusing on (1) formal practice; (2) more "informal" (or "daily life" practice); and (3) our work, service, and/or activism. For each of these areas, a number of suggestions are made, inviting the listener to discern the one or two or three ways that most resonate and connect with one's own edge of learning.
2020-07-15 Deepening Our Practice in a Pandemic: Discussion, Q&A 17:41
  Donald Rothberg
2020-07-22 Deepening Our Daily Life Practice in the Pandemic 2 67:09
  Donald Rothberg
We begin with a brief review of the previous week's talk and discussion, in which we explored a number of ways to deepen (1) our formal practice; (2) our informal (daily life) practice; and (3) our service, work, and/or activism as practice. This exploration points to a broadened sense of practice. We then examine in some depth three inter-related foundational areas for deepening practice in all three areas: (1) developing mindfulness of the body; (2) working to transform reactivity (here as a translation of "dukkha"), including as it manifests in challenging or difficult experiences; and (3) pausing and setting intentions. Our discussion particularly goes into being skillful with challenging experiences.
2020-07-29 Deepening Our Daily Life Practice in the Pandemic 3 66:09
  Donald Rothberg
After a brief review of what we've explored in the last two sessions, in terms of ways of deepening daily life practice in terms of formal practice, informal practice, and one's work, service, and/or activism, we go more deeply into two areas. We look at how to practice with exploring and seeing intentions, and some ways to make connections between formal and informal practice--in the flow of daily life. The talk has a few references to the life of Rep. John Lewis, the civil rights activist and Congressperson, who died on July 17, 2020, and is followed by discussion..
2020-08-19 Deepening Our Practice in the Pandemic 4: The Foundations of Wise Speech 1: Cultivating Empathy 66:30
  Donald Rothberg
We start with a brief review of the three previous talks on deepening practice during the pandemic (and other crises), including clarifying three broad areas of practice: Formal meditation practice, daily life practice, and work, service, and/or activism as practice. In this session, we explore the foundations of Wise Speech as practice, mentioning three foundations. The first two include (1) the ethical guidelines given by the Buddha regarding skillful speech, and (2) developing presence and mindfulness during speech (including listening). We focus most of the time on the third foundation of cultivating empathic connection with another, clarifying the difference between empathy and compassion, giving some of the findings of studies in neuroscience about empathy, and examining what blocks empathy. We then work with a simple (yet powerful) empathy practice of tuning into (1) emotions, and (2) what matters, and move into a period of discussion.
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