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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

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2021-01-20 Practicing with Intentions 2: Developing Intentions and Vows to Guide Practice in One's Communities, Society, and World 65:32
Donald Rothberg
After a review of the January 6 session on practicing with intentions in individual formal and daily life practice, and on Inauguration Day, we explore practicing in more community, social, and collective settings. In this context, we point to the importance of combining i"inner" and "outer" practice, and to two possible inspirations: (1)the figure of the bodhisattva who combines awakening and helping others, and (2) the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a kind of bodhisattva. On this basis, there is a short period in which those present are asked to write their own intentions and/or vows to guide their responses to the current needs and crises of our world. Some share their writing!
Attached Files:
  • Practicing with Intentions 2 by Donald Rothberg (PDF)
2021-02-17 Intimacy: Healing Division through Deep listening and Letting Go of Views (with Antonio Aversano) 1:27:13
Kaira Jewel Lingo
2021-03-03 Doing and Not-Doing in Meditation and in Daily Life 1 1:10:10
Donald Rothberg
We explore the nature of doing and not-doing, first in dharma practice generally. The Buddha’s teachings seem full of exhortations to diligence, mindfulness, and skillful effort and doing. Yet there also is a clear place for not-doing—for example, in letting go and in cultivating mindful receptivity to experience. We can also see how being a “doer” is so central to many of our identities, whether in our roles or work or even our meditation. Given these dimensions of doing and not-doing, we suggest a number of ways to inquire into and respond to our patterns and habits related to doing and not-doing, both in meditation and daily life.
2021-03-10 Doing and Not-Doing in Meditation and Daily Life 2 69:08
Donald Rothberg
We briefly review the main themes from last week, including the importance of "doing" and effort in the teachings and practices of the Buddha, the importance also of "not-doing" (through letting go and cultivating receptive mindfulness), and elements of our conditioning to be a "doer." We go in more detail into this conditioning, pointing to ways of practicing and inquiring. Then, finally, we explore how there is an advanced way of being in which doing comes, so to speak, out of non-doing; we look at this in terms of the teachings of Lao-Tzu, Chuang-Tzu, and Dzogchen. We close with a kind of developmental model of the stages of inquiry into the doer.
2021-03-17 What Is Still True 1:53:07
Sylvia Boorstein
2021-03-31 Doing and Not-Doing in Meditation and Daily Life 3 68:17
Donald Rothberg
We start with a brief review of what we’ve explored in the last two sessions on this theme, including the importance of both doing and not-doing in Buddhist practice and the nature of identification with the “doer” (and the related themes of self, time, and the future). We then go into more depth inquiring into the nature of the “doer,” including a brief guided meditation looking into the experience of “doing” and opening to not-doing in meditation. We lastly further investigate traditions (Jewish, Christian, Taoist, and Buddhist) that point to the importance of a doing coming out of not-doing, and ways that we can experience and explore this doing coming out of not-doing in daily life, including in the experiences of creativity in art and music, and being “in the zone” in sports.
2021-04-07 The Preciousness of Life and Connection 1:49:10
Sylvia Boorstein
2021-04-14 Doing and Not-Doing in Meditation and Daily Life: Guided Meditation 1 28:40
Donald Rothberg
About a 30-minute guided meditation emphasizing the balance of more active "doing" and more receptive awareness (a kind of "not-doing") in meditation. We start with intentions and then settling of attention and awareness, followed by opening up to what is predominant, integrating both more active and more receptive dimensions of practice. This session is followed by a talk on the theme of doing and not-doing in meditation and daily life, and a second guided meditation, which goes more deeply into not-doing.
2021-04-14 Doing and Not-Doing in Meditation and Daily Life 4: Talk, Guided Meditation, and Discussion 1:13:33
Donald Rothberg
We review briefly the basic perspectives that we've explore in preceding sessions: the importance of active "doing" in meditation and daily life, the importance as well as receptivity and "not-doing" in meditation and daily life, and ways in which to inquire into our more fixed identity as a "doer." We then look at two broad perspectives on a doing coming out of a deep not-doing: (1) in "flow" experiences and the experiences of "experts" in a given area, with examples from art, music, sports, and everyday life; and (2) in spiritual traditions, with a particular emphasis on Taoist and Buddhist sources. Then there is a second guided meditation, about 20 minutes long, and beginning at 35:55, grounded in the earlier guided meditation before the talk, in which we explore a progressive letting-go of both more gross and more subtle dimensions of meditative doing, opening up to a deeper non-doing, which can be the basis for the "doing coming out of a deep not-doing" we explored in the talk. Finally, we have open discussion.
2021-04-21 Guided Meditation on Doing and Not-Doing in Our Meditation Practice 30:29
Donald Rothberg
A thirty-minute or so guided meditation, lightly guided, with three successive instructions: (1) to set intentions in light of whether one needs in general to emphasize "doing" more or less, and then to focus initially on settling, connecting with the primary object and noticing when one is distracted; (2) to emphasize receptivity as a dimension of not-doing in being with what is predominant, after an initial period of settling; and (3) opening to a kind of "choiceless awareness," simply noticing what is occurring moment by moment.
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