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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2023-05-10 Being with Daily Life Experience As Sacred: Some Ways of Practicing 60:45
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Monday and Wednesday Talks
2023-05-10 Guided Meditation: Cultivating Presence and a Devotional, Appreciative Attitude to Each Moment 40:37
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Monday and Wednesday Talks
2023-05-08 Seven Stages of the Spiritual Journey 1:18:10
We work with the metaphor of the spiritual "journey" and distinguish seven successive stages of this journey, using as main reference points the poem by Mary Oliver called "The Journey" (read near the beginning and at the end of the talk), the life of the Buddha, the lives of several great practitioners in the Thai Forest Tradition (Ajahn Mun, Ajahn Chah, and Mae Chee Kaew), and our own lives. The stages begin with taking life for granted, move through some sense of unsatisfactoriness or inadequacy about our ordinary and habitual lives and a call for something more. They lead to some kind of departure from the ordinary and habitual, opening, typically with difficulties, challenges, and purification, to our more authentic being and awakening, at least to some degree, and returning in a way to our everyday lives. This journey can take many forms, and the stages can sometimes be successive, and sometimes all appear in a short period. After the talk, we have about 20 minutes of discussion.
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Monday and Wednesday Talks
2023-04-05 Awakening and Habitual Tendencies 2 60:59
We continue to explore a theme coming out of Donald's recent month-long retreat, of how we can hold and work with the understanding that there is both a process of awakening, often seen as mostly gradual, and a typically everyday experience of our habitual tendencies, including our difficulties and challenges. We review and expand some of what we examined in the previous session, including looking more at how the Buddha understood the nature of samsara and nirvana, and at the seven practices suggested last week for navigating this area (available to be downloaded--see the previous week's talk). We then go somewhat further and deeper, pointing to further ways of practicing, such as inquiring into the sense of self found in different habitual tendencies, and developing a devotional attitude toward both our ordinary lives and our habitual tendencies, as making possible the awakening process. We also touch on Mahayana and Vajrayana perspectives--that samsara and nirvana are not different (articulated by Nagarjuna), and that awakened awareness and habitual tendencies are not different (from Tibetan Dzogchen). These practices and perspectives help us to maintain confidence and faith in awakening in the midst of things!
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Monday and Wednesday Talks
2023-03-29 Awakening and Habitual Tendencies 1 63:59
Donald shares some of the main themes of his experiences from a four-week retreat that finished four days before the talk. The talk focuses on one of the themes from the retreat--how there is an awakening process and yet how there remain habitual tendencies and times of greed, hatred, and delusion. How do we understand the relationship between seeing our "true nature" to be love and wisdom, and the fact that habitual tendencies appear frequently? We explore this theme in a few ways. We look at some of the understandings and stories in different religious traditions of something like this dynamic: How can there be "evil" when there is an all-powerful and all-good God? What accounts for this dichotomy? How are nirvana and samsara related? What guidelines and suggestions help us to practice so as to hold the aspiration to awaken and keep practicing with the acknowledgement of our habitual tendencies? Seven practice suggestions are given (see the attached file).
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Monday and Wednesday Talks
Attached Files:
  • Seven Suggestions for Practice: Awakening Amidst Habitual Tendencies by Donald Rothberg (Word File)
2023-02-22 Cultivating Metta 3: Integrating Metta and Clear Seeing 64:31
In this talk of a series of talks on developing metta or lovingkindness, we look at the question of how we connect and integrate metta with our development of clear seeing, with our mindfulness and wisdom. This is an important question, particularly given that most Western practitioners of insight meditation have separate practices in which they develop metta, on the one hand, and mindfulness and wisdom, on the other. Are they integrated? How? In the talk, we explore: (1) related strong cultural tendencies to separate mind and emotions, as in, for example, science, and much education; (2) how in the basic teachings of the Buddha, there seem to be separate practices; (3) how, both in the teachings of the Buddha and in later Buddhist traditions (as well as in other traditions), there is often a deeper vision of the unity of the awakened heart and mind; and (4) how we can practice to integrate metta, mindfulness, wisdom, and awareness.
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Monday and Wednesday Talks
2023-02-22 Guided Meditation: Connecting Metta (Lovingkindness), Mindfulness, and Awareness 39:08
We start with a short period of metta or some other heart practice, noticing how mindfulness brings us back to the practice when we are distracted. Then there is a longer period of mindfulness, hopefully infused some with metta, in the spirit of Sylvia Boorstein's wonderful invitation: “May I meet this moment fully. May I meet this moment as a friend.” We then have a second sequence of relatively brief metta practice followed by a longer period of mindfulness practice. The last part of the session is a guided practice of radiating metta, moving toward an integration of metta and a boundless awareness. b. Let it infuse mindfulness: Sylvia’s phrase. See how this is. c. Check periodically. Maybe do 2-3 minutes of metta. d. Radiating metta exploring a loving awareness.
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Monday and Wednesday Talks
2023-02-08 Cultivating Metta (Lovingkindness, Love, Friendliness) 2 62:26
In this second talk on Metta (lovingkindness) practice, we first review the foundational nature of the practice and its connection with the cultivation of wisdom and bring our practice into our lives and action in the world, with a reading of a poem from one of the early Buddhist nuns. We examine in some depth some of the challenges to Metta practice, what makes it challenging to manifest kindness and love, and point to some of the way to practice Metta in daily life.
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Monday and Wednesday Talks
2023-02-08 Guided Meditation: Metta (Lovingkindness) Practice with Phrases and Radiating Metta 39:21
We start with a short overview of practicing metta practice with phrases, followed by about 8-9 minutes of settling with mindfulness practice. Then we practice metta with phrases with beings with whom the metta flows most easily. This is followed by a period of guided practice of radiating metta.
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Monday and Wednesday Talks
2023-02-01 Cultivating Metta (Lovingkindness, Love, Friendliness) 1 63:18
The aim of our practice is to develop wisdom, love, and skillful action in our lives. We commonly cultivate these capacities separately and then integrate them. In this session, we first explore the nature of Metta, its etymology in words suggesting "friendliness" and "friendship," and the ancient vocation, found in multiple spiritual traditions of cultivating Metta or love or kindness. We then look at the multiple ways of developing Metta, both in formal practice and in daily life, and examine briefly some of the challenges in cultivating Metta. Then we have a guided meditation the last 15 minutes exploring "Radiating Metta," a way of practicing likely closer to how the Buddha taught Metta. We follow this with discussion.
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Monday and Wednesday Talks

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