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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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2020-06-17 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.
2020-08-26 Deepening Our Practice in the Pandemic 5: The Foundations of Wise Speech 2: Empathy (continued) and the Buddha's Ethical Guidelines for Skillful Speech 1:11:13
Donald Rothberg
After a brief review of the previous talks in this series, and a clarification of the different dimensions of our practice, we continue to explore the foundation given last time--empathy practice and the intention to understand and connect with another. We work with two brief exercises which point to ways of practicing empathy. Then we examine the four guidelines for wise or skillful speech given by the Buddha--for our speech and communication to be truthful, helpful, kind and loving (even when saying difficult things), and timely.
2020-09-16 Deepening Our Practice in the Pandemic 6: Wise Speech 3: Practicing with Difficult Speech Situations 68:21
Donald Rothberg
After reviewing three foundations of Wise Speech--the four ethical guidelines for skillful speech, presence and mindfulness during speech, and the practice of empathy--we explore, on the basis of these foundations, how to be skillful during difficult or challenging situations of speech and communication, whether involving two individuals, a group, or a larger society. We identify eight perspectives, practices, and capacities that support skillful speech during such difficult situations.
2020-09-23 Deepening Our Practice in the Pandemic 7: The Foundations of Wise Speech 4: Becoming More Skillful with Difficult Speech Situations 2 1:10:06
Donald Rothberg
After a brief review of the foundations of wise speech and the eight guidelines for skillful speech when there are difficult or challenging situations, we explore the connection of inner practices with such situations. We look at two dimensions of such practice: (1) looking at and transforming conditioning that makes it hard to engage in such situations, such as related to negative views about conflict and anger, and discerning when there is spiritual bypassing in relationship to difficulties; and (2) bringing mindfulness, inquiry, and investigation to difficult emotions such as anger, fear, sadness, etc.,and to thoughts and narratives (especially generated by the judgmental mind). We will continue this exploration, including of difficult body states, next time..
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