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Retreat Dharma Talks

Monday and Wednesday Talks

Regular weekly talks given at the lower Spirit Rock meditation hall

Spirit Rock Meditation Center

2024-01-24 Integrating Metta Practice with Wisdom, Awareness, and Insight Practice 1 63:04
Donald Rothberg
We often hear that the heart of the teachings and practice is to connect wisdom and compassion, clear seeing and the kind heart, developing what Jack Kornfield calls the "wise heart." Yet such a connection or integration can be challenging in several ways. First of all, we have major conditioning in modern Western culture to separate the "mind" and the "heart" (or emotions), as well as the body. Also we find tendencies in the Theravada tradition to see Metta practice as separate from Insight practice, as in the way that Buddhaghosa in the influential text, the Visuddhimagga, lists Metta practice as a form of Concentration practice, and in some of the ways that Metta is taught as a complement to insight practice in the West. In this talk, we begin to explore what it might look like to integrate more fully Metta and wisdom, mindfulness, and insight, both in formal practice and daily life. The talk is followed by discussion.
2024-01-24 Introduction to Nine Bodies Insight Practice, Capacities 1-4 1:35:35
Dana DePalma
2024-01-29 The Teaching of the 8 Consciousnesses 1:26:11
Teja Bell
2024-01-31 Guided Meditation: Mindfulness, Metta, Radiating Metta, and Metta-Infused Mindfulness 39:03
Donald Rothberg
We begin with about 10 minutes of settling with our mindfulness (or another) practice. This is followed by about 5 minutes of practicing metta where it flows as easily as possible, and then by a guided practice in radiating metta, extended to radiating in a boundless way. We then return to a brief way of practicing radiating metta without visualization, followed by returning to mindfulness, infused with metta.
2024-01-31 Integrating Metta Practice with Wisdom, Awareness, and Insight Practice 2 64:31
Donald Rothberg
We continue to explore how we might practice metta (and other heart practices) in a way integrated with mindfulness, wisdom, and insight, building on last week's session. We begin looking at some of the ways historically and culturally that the "mind" and "reason" have been separated from emotion, dating from Plato and the Greeks, and continued in the modern world with the understanding of reason and science as separate from emotion (and the body). This has been a major part of our social and cultural conditioning, evident in how mainstream education occurs, and also linked with gender conditioning. We also examine how, dating from Buddhaghosa's text, the Visuddhimagga (The Path of Purification), from the 5th century, metta and compassion has been labeled as practices leading to concentration, and not as linked directly with wisdom and awakening. This has been the basis for the 20th century Burmese approaches to metta and mindfulness, which have been the main influences in the West. However, when we look to the Buddha's actual teachings, as well as later Mahayana and Vajrayana teachings, we find much more of a connection between metta, compassion, and wisdom. We can see this in a number of texts which we explore, including ones in which the heart practices are seen as leading directly to wisdom, and development in awakening. In the last part of the talk, we explore ways that we can, in our formal and informal practices, integrate metta and wisdom. The talk is followed by discussion.
2024-02-05 Compassion and Wisdom 1:19:17
bruni dávila
2024-02-19 Monday Night Meditation & Dharma Talk with Jack Kornfield | Feb. 19, 2024 1:41:30
Jack Kornfield
2024-02-21 Transforming the Judgmental Mind 1 68:12
Donald Rothberg
We frame the session in terms of there being three main inter-related aims of our practice: (1) developing wisdom and insight, (2) cultivating the kind heart and compassion, and (3) acting skillfully and ethically in all the parts of our life. In this context, it's interesting that having insight can still be connected with reactivity; it's possible to be both "right" and see something clearly, and be obnoxious. We look at one major way in which insight can be enmeshed with reactivity--what I call "the judgmental mind." We first clarify how "judgment" in English is ambiguous, sometimes meaning judgmental, sometimes meaning discerning without reactivity. The judgmental mind combines typically some kind of noticing, insight, observation, etc. with reactivity, and the key to transforming the judgmental mind is to work through the reactivity, using multiple tools. The last part of the talk outlines our major tools for transforming the judgmental mind, and invites next week's practice. We then have a discussion.
2024-02-26 Non-separation ~ Interconnection The Elements as US 1:39:01
Noliwe Alexander
2024-02-28 Guided Meditation Exploring the Judgmental Mind 37:15
Donald Rothberg
After a period of settling and general mindfulness practice, we invite noticing and being with any expressions of the judgmental mind (here called "judgments") if they occur. In the second part of the guided meditation, there is also a more direct investigation of a selected judgment, exploring it at the levels of body, emotions, and thought, and seeing whether any underlying painful or difficult experience can be noticed. We close with a brief three-part self-compassion practice (from Kristin Neff).
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