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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2023-11-29 Practicing with Conflict 4: Applying the Ten Foundations of Conflict Practice to Israel/Palestine 66:34
We begin with a brief review of the framework of ten foundations for practicing with differences and conflicts (defining conflicts as differences of goals, values, views, strategies, etc. and not necessarily involving hostility or aggression). Then we apply the ten foundations as guides for seeing how we can bring our practice (both more "inner" and more "outer") to the seemingly complex and intractable conflict of Israel/Palestine. After the talk, there is discussion of a number of areas and questions.
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Monday and Wednesday Talks
Attached Files:
  • Ten Foundations for Practicing with Conflict by Donald Rothberg (PDF)
2023-11-29 Brief Guided Meditation Exploring One's Experiences of Conflicts 12:06
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Monday and Wednesday Talks
2023-11-22 Practicing with Conflict: Foundations 3 66:27
We start by reviewing briefly the two times' accounts of the foundations for practicing with differences and conflicts, first giving a definition of "conflict" as a difference of values, goals, or strategies, and not necessarily involving hostility or aggression. There's an invitation to focus on a conflict in one's life that is in the moderate range of difficulty, and bring this to mind as we work with ten foundations of skillful practice with conflict. We look again briefly at the multiple reasons why bringing our practice to conflicts is often difficult, and then review the more "inner" four foundations of skillful practice with conflict (1-4). We then bring in six further foundations which are more "outer," including (5) developing guidelines and agreements, especially in groups or organizations, but also with individuals; (6) clarifying a vision of a "win-win" or "both-and" approach to conflicts that meet the underlying interests or needs of all concerned; and (7) developing empathy. We offer two brief empathy practices, including one done in the context of one's own conflict. Three further foundations are offered: (8) grounding in Buddhist ethics, particularly the precepts and the understanding that one should bring care and kindness to all, and that all have Buddha Nature; (9) skillful speech (part of ethical training); and (10) the bringing of these ethical dimensions into collective life, through nonviolent action and the concept, in Dr. King's work, of the beloved community. After the talk, there is a discussion.
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Monday and Wednesday Talks
Attached Files:
  • Johan Galtung's Win-Win Model of Conflict Transformation by Donald Rothberg (PDF)
  • 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)
2023-10-25 Practicing with Conflict: Foundations 2 68:46
We start by reviewing last week's initial account of the foundations for practicing with differences and conflicts, first giving a definition of "conflict" as a difference of values, goals, or strategies, and not necessarily involving hostility or aggression. We also look again briefly at the multiple reasons why bringing our practice to conflicts is often difficult, and then review the more "inner" four foundations of skillful practice with conflict. We then bring in three further foundations which are more "outer": developing guidelines and agreements, especially in groups or organizations, but also with individuals; clarifying a vision of a "win-win" or "both-and" approach to conflicts that meet the underlying interests or needs of all concerned; and developing empathy. After the talk, there is a discussion.
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Monday and Wednesday Talks
Attached Files:
  • Johan Galtung's Win-Win Model of Conflict Transformation by Donald Rothberg (PDF)
  • 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)
2023-10-18 Practicing with Conflict: Foundations 1 66:41
We begin by identifying the importance of developing skillful practice with differences and conflicts, whether inner conflicts or interpersonal conflicts or group or organizational conflicts or social or international conflicts. The claim is that the general principles and practices are fundamentally the same, even as the practices take different forms when there are more complexities. We first give a definition of "conflict" as a difference of values, goals, or strategies, and as not necessarily involving hostility or aggression. This definition may help to go against the prevalence of negative conditioning about conflicts; we look at a number of reasons why bringing our practice to conflicts is commonly difficult. For the rest of the talk, we examine four more "inner" foundations of skillful practice with conflict: examining our own conditioning; working with the core relevant teachings of the Buddha, particularly about the nature of reactivity (as in the teaching of the Two Arrows); practicing with difficult emotions, body states, and thoughts; and bringing in the heart practices. After the talk, there is a discussion.
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Monday and Wednesday Talks
2023-08-16 Cultivating Wise Speech 4: Practicing Wise in Challenging Situations, including with Social and Political Polarization 69:31
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 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O4dDVeAU3u4&t=3082s, 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 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=no0NzGhwobA). This is followed by discussion.
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Monday and Wednesday Talks
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
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.")
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Monday and Wednesday Talks
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)
2023-07-19 Cultivating Wise Speech 2: A Review of Three Foundations of Wise Speech and An Introduction to a Fourth: Empathy Practice 64:50
We first focus on the importance of the practice of wise speech and then review three foundations of such practice: (1) developing presence in the midst of communication; (2) working with the four guidelines for skillful speech developed by the Buddha; and (3) integrating our practice to be mindful and skillful with thoughts, emotions, and body states with our speech practice. We then introduce a fourth foundation, empathy practice, aiming to understand and connect with another, exploring the roots of such practice in the innate capacity of empathy. We then identify a simple yet basic practice of tuning into someone's emotions and "needs" (or what matters to someone), based on the work of Nonviolent Communication (developed first by Marshall Rosenberg). A discussion follows, particularly examining bringing these practices into challenging interactions. (Materials on emotions--or feelings, needs, and an "empathy map" are given below, under "documents.")
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Monday and Wednesday Talks
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)
2023-07-17 The Nature of Awakening: Traditional and Contemporary Paths of Awakening 68:04
We examine first the Buddha’s teachings about awakening, We see how he understands the process as involving two processes. We are mindful of and work through what gets in the way of touching our natural awakening—greed, hatred, and delusion (or the two forms of reactivity—grasping after the pleasant and pushing away the unpleasant, along with ignorance about the nature of impermanence, reactivity or Dukkha, and not-self). We also develop those qualities which both support and manifest awakening, qualities identified in the teaching of the Seven Factors of Awakening. We see further how the Buddha at times identified the nature of awakened awareness as “signless, boundless, all-luminous,” and trace similar accounts of awakened awareness in the Thai Forest tradition and Tibetan Dzogchen and Mahāmudrā. Then we ask the question about whether these wonderful teachings and associated practices are sufficient for awakening in the contemporary world. We point to how such teachings and practices are crucial but also need to be complemented by and integrated with a contemporary map of awakening, identifying forms of contemporary conditioning (and greed, hatred, and delusion) that are not found in the traditional account. Broadly speaking, we can identify two inter-related core areas—a first identifying more “psychological” conditioning, and more “social” conditioning (for example, around gender, race, sexual orientation, age, etc.). The talk is followed by discussion.
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Spirit Rock Live: Monday Night with Donald Rothberg
2023-07-17 Guided Meditation Exploring the Factors of Awakening 31:11
Basic instructions in developing concentration and stability, on the one hand, and mindfulness, on the other, are given in the context of the teaching of the Seven Factors of Awakening; concentration and mindfulness are two of the seven factors. We also explore inquiry or investigation, a third factor, in the context of mindfulness.
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Spirit Rock Live: Monday Night with Donald Rothberg

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