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The greatest gift is the
gift of the teachings
Dharma Talks Access for Retreatants

Monday and Wednesday Talks

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

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2020-02-12 Don't get Distracted: You Might Forget to Be Kind 2:02:18
Sylvia Boorstein
2020-02-19 From the Ordinary Habitual Mind to the Buddha Mind 14: Working with Our Psychological Conditioning (Talk Begins at 57:07) 2:00:51
Donald Rothberg
In this session, we explore first in a more general way the complex relationship between transforming our psychological conditioning (including any residues of trauma) and meditative training, pointing to a kind of emerging contemporary map of how these practices come together (and how this map relates to more traditional maps). Near the end of the talk are inquiry questions to help us explore our own unresolved issues of a more psychological nature.
2020-02-26 From the Ordinary Habitual Mind to the Buddha Mind 15: Working with Our Psychological Conditioning 2 52:45
Donald Rothberg
We continue to explore the role of working with transforming psychological conditioning and unresolved material (incomplete developmental tasks, developmental wounds, trauma, limiting beliefs, etc.) in a contemporary path of awakening. Using the concepts of unconscious material and of the “shadow” (individual and collective), we point to how the Buddha faced his own shadow (the four heavenly messengers that he found outside of his conditioning in the palace). We then explore some tools and ways to open to and work with unconscious or shadow aspects of ourselves, both in and out of formal meditation.
2020-03-04 From the Ordinary Habitual Mind to the Buddha Mind 16: Working with Our Psychological Conditioning 3 62:28
Donald Rothberg
We begin by pointing to how combining traditional Buddhist training with transforming psychological and social conditioning and unresolved material suggests the contours of a contemporary path of awakening. We then identify some of the main areas of the contemporary “shadow,” of unconscious, unresolved conditioning and developmental wounds, such as anger, fear, death, shame, conflict, trauma, grief, sexuality, and so on. We then give a “map” of four stages in the transformation of the shadow (particularly in a meditative context), starting with finding ways to access the shadow, then learning to be with and explore the shadow, then transforming the shadow, and then integrating the shadow work with daily life.
2020-04-01 Practicing during the Pandemic: Perspectives, Practices, and Suggestions 1 30:39
Donald Rothberg
A talk giving a number of ways to approach this time of "sheltering-in-place" in terms of perspectives, intentions, core practices, and skillful actions, seeing the crisis as a great opportunity as well as a challenge.
2020-04-01 Practicing during the Pandemic: Perspectives, Practices, and Suggestions 2 21:26
Donald Rothberg
Questions and responses, as well as suggestions and shared insights from the group.
2020-04-08 Practicing with the Pandemic 2: Cultivating Compassion and Equanimity 65:20
Donald Rothberg
After a brief review of some of the suggested ways to practice with the pandemic given last week, we explore two key capacities for our times: Compassion and equanimity. We look into the key aspects of compassion and equanimity and also how to cultivate them. For each of the two qualities, we also have songs inspired by and inspiring the qualities, from Eve Decker. A period of discussion, including questions and responses, concludes the session.
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.
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