The greatest gift is the
gift of the teachings
 
Donald Rothberg's Dharma Talks at Spirit Rock Meditation Center
Donald Rothberg
Donald Rothberg, PhD, has practiced Insight Meditation since 1976, and has also received training in Tibetan Dzogchen and Mahamudra practice and the Hakomi approach to body-based psychotherapy. Formerly on the faculties of the University of Kentucky, Kenyon College, and Saybrook Graduate School, he currently writes and teaches classes, groups and retreats on meditation, daily life practice, spirituality and psychology, and socially engaged Buddhism. An organizer, teacher, and former board member for the Buddhist Peace Fellowship, Donald has helped to guide three six-month to two-year training programs in socially engaged spirituality through Buddhist Peace Fellowship (the BASE Program), Saybrook (the Socially Engaged Spirituality Program), and Spirit Rock (the Path of Engagement Program). He is the author of The Engaged Spiritual Life: A Buddhist Approach to Transforming Ourselves and the World and the co-editor of Ken Wilber in Dialogue: Conversations with Leading Transpersonal Thinkers.
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2021-07-28 Deepening Daily Life Practice 3: Practicing with the Eight Worldly Winds 68:43
We begin with a review of the last two sessions related to deepening daily life practice, including identifying some of the challenges of contemporary daily life practice and some basic ways of deepening such practice, the importance for such practice of mindfulness of the body, and the centrality of practicing with reactivity (based on looking closely at the sequence from contact to grasping or pushing away). We then, for the rest of the session, explore the teaching of the Eight Worldly Winds (pleasure or pain, gain or loss, fame or disrepute, and praise or blame) as a way of looking out for eight specific experiences that are likely to lead to reactivity. In all of this, we focus on how we might learn from and respond skillfully to such challenging situations rather than simply react in a largely unconscious and habitual way. The talk is followed by a discussion.
Monday and Wednesday Talks
2021-07-28 Deepening Daily Life Practice 3: A Guided Meditation: Settling, Practicing with Pleasant and Unpleasant and Tendencies to Reactivity, Practicing with the Eight Worldly Winds 37:48
In this guided meditation, we start with about 10 minutes of settling. We then attend to when there is a moderate or greater pleasant or unpleasant feeling-tone, bringing some investigation as to what occurs in ones' experience, including tendencies to reactivity (grasping or pushing away). Toward the end of the guided meditation, there's an invitation to track for those forms of reactivity coming after one of the Eight Worldly Winds (pleasure or pain, gain or loss, fame or disrepute, and praise or blame).
Monday and Wednesday Talks
2021-07-07 Deepening Daily Life Practice 2: Practicing with Reactivity 69:27
We begin with a review of last week's opening exploration of deepening daily life practice, naming some of the challenges of daily life practice, some initial ways of deepening such practice, and the centrality for such practice of mindfulness of the body. We then, for the rest of the session, explore how we can practice with reactivity when it arises, in its two forms--grasping after the pleasant and pushing away what is taken as unpleasant. We ground such practice in the Buddha's teaching in the model of Dependent Origination of the sequence from contact to feeling-tone to wanting (or not wanting) to grasping (or pushing away). We then point to a number of ways of practicing with reactivity and some of the complexities of such practice, particularly the ways in which reactivity can be enmeshed with discernment. A discussion follows!
Monday and Wednesday Talks
2021-07-07 Deepening Daily Life Practice 2: A Guided Meditation: Practicing with Reactivity 26:04
In this guided meditation, we start with about 10 minutes of settling. We then attend to when there is a moderate or greater pleasant or unpleasant feeling-tone, bringing some investigation as to what occurs in ones' experience. Toward the end of the guided meditation, there's an invitation to track for any moment of reactivity (grasping onto the pleasant in some way, or pushing away the unpleasant).
Monday and Wednesday Talks
2021-06-30 Deepening Daily Life Practice 1 68:12
In an important sense, daily life practice is central and vital; it is where we live! Yet at times in the non-monastic Insight Meditation approach as it's developed in the West, such practice has been somewhat marginalized, with retreat practice and formal meditation practice at the center. We explore first the challenging context of daily life practice for many Western practitioners, including not just such a lack of sustained emphasis on daily life practice, but also the challenges of living in what is often a very busy, "mental" culture and society. We then look at a number of ways to bring more awareness into daily life, inviting the listener to see what one or two ways of practicing might be emphasized in the next period of time. We give a more in-depth focus on one very central way of bringing more awareness into daily life--developing mindfulness of the body. We offer a number of different practices that support such mindfulness of the body.
Monday and Wednesday Talks
2021-06-23 Buddhist Practice and Transforming Racism: Nine Reflections from the Last Year 69:33
A year after the massive demonstrations in the US following the killing of George Floyd, we reflect on different aspects of the integration of Buddhist practice and transforming racism, identifying nine key themes.
Monday and Wednesday Talks
2021-06-07 Doing, Not-Doing, and The Doing That Comes from Not-Doing: In Meditation and in Daily Life 64:49
We inquire into doing and not-doing in five ways: (1) identifying the importance of a number of different kinds of "doing" and skillful effort in meditation; (2) pointing also to the centrality of a kind of not-doing (or letting go of doing) and receptivity in meditation; (3) the importance of investigating the "doer" and one's identity as a doer, in a number of different ways, in meditation and daily life; (4) the vision of a doing that comes out of being, that comes out of a deep not-doing, a vision that we find in different spiritual traditions--here we mention ways that this vision is found in Jewish, Christian, Taoist, and Buddhist traditions; and (5) how we explore and cultivate this doing coming out of a deep not-doing in daily life, in "flow experiences," in activities in which we are deeply grounded, and in such areas as sports, music, art, and dance.
Monday and Wednesday Talks
2021-05-19 The Development of Faith, Confidence, and Trust 2 69:11
We continue to explore the nature of faith (or confidence or trust), how it is developed, and the challenges that arise. We look at the traditional teachings on faith (or saddha) in several contexts, and examine how faith or confidence develops in our practice and in our lives We particularly look at some of the challenges that arise, both in the everyday experience of the Eight Worldly Winds, and in more protracted experiences of something like the "Dark Night of the Soul." The last part of the talk points to what mature faith, confidence, and trust look like, a kind of faith in our own depths and in our own deep resting in the nature of things. We then have a period of discussion and sharing.
Monday and Wednesday Talks
2021-05-12 The Development of Faith, Confidence, and Trust 1 1:11:36
Our practice points toward a deep kind of faith (or confidence or trust) that is possible, in which there is faith both in our unique being and in our connection to being itself. We explore how we develop such faith, starting with a brief account of how faith (saddha) is understood in the teachings of the Buddha, and then exploring how faith is developed at different stages of our practice, particularly beginning and intermediate.
Monday and Wednesday Talks
2021-04-21 Doing and Not-Doing in Meditation and Daily Life 5: Talk, Guided Meditation, Discussion 1:15:23
We briefly review the main themes of our practice in the last sessions: The importance of "doing" and skillful effort in our formal practice and in our daily lives; the parallel importance of "not-doing" (particularly receptivity) in these areas; some ways to inquire into the nature of our identities as "doers"; some ways of bringing these practices into daily life; the experience of "flow" and being an "expert" in a given area as pointing to a kind of "doing" coming out of a deep not-doing; and the theme of not-doing in Taoist tradition (emphasizing the work of Chuang Tzu) and Buddhist tradition. We suggest that all of practice points toward this deep non-doing as an expression of awakening. We then explore this territory in a 20-minute guided meditation, followed by discussion.
Monday and Wednesday Talks

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