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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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2021-10-06 The Seven Factors of Awakening 68:45
Donald Rothberg
After a brief review of the last two sessions that Donald has offered on traditional teachings about awakening and contemporary maps of the path of awakening, we explore the core teaching of the Seven Factors of Awakening: mindfulness, investigation, resolve or energy, joy or rapture, tranquility, concentration, and equanimity. We look both individually at each of the seven, and also suggest a number of ways of practicing with this teaching, whether in a particular meditation session, in daily life, or over a sustained period of time. At the end, there is some discussion.
2021-10-11 Mindful Loving Witness Meditation 24:31
Jack Kornfield
Gently acknowledge any strong waves of thought or emotion that pull you away from the breath. Let them rise and fall, then return to breath. Become the mindful loving witness of each breath.
2021-10-11 On Death | Monday Night Talk 58:46
Jack Kornfield
We live in a culture of denial and youth. How can we find a freedom of heart in this world of birth and death? We can start by acknowledging that everything is subject to change. Death is an advisor that can give us clarity about what really matters. We can be the loving witness of this life, yet not cling to it. We can cherish life, yet in the end we will have to let go. As Mary Oliver writes: To live in this world you must be able to do three things: to love what is mortal; to hold it against your bones knowing your own life depends on it; and, when the time comes to let it go, to let it go.
2021-10-13 Paying Attention: What it's all about! 1:42:43
Sylvia Boorstein
2021-10-20 Buddhas Teaching on Impartial Kindness: The Metta Sutta 1:29:41
Sylvia Boorstein
The talk references the New Yorker cover from September 6, 2021 and the Karaniya Metta Sutta. Here are links to access them: The New Yorker Cover and Karaniya Metta Sutta
2021-11-10 "May All Beings Be Peaceful & Happy & Come to the End of Suffering" 2:00:22
Sylvia Boorstein
2021-11-17 Doorways to Awakening 66:22
Donald Rothberg
Remembering the teaching about there being 84,000 "Dharma Doors," we explore a number of such "doorways to awakening." The interest is especially in inviting us each to have a sense of what at the current time brings one's practice alive, identifying one's "edge of current learning." This may be to identify a current challenge or difficulty and approach it as part of one's practice, and/or to emphasize a dimension of formal and/or informal practice that brings interest, joy, and aliveness.
2021-11-22 Gratitude and Generosity Meditation | Monday Night 27:23
Jack Kornfield
Like the waves of the ocean, the breath rises and falls. Bring loving awareness to the breath. Shift your attention from the breath to all the sensations in your body. With mindful loving awareness, notice the whole field of sensations. If there are areas of pain or stiffness, bow to them and hold them with kindness. Hold them as you would a child who is going through a hard time. Notice how this kind loving awareness allows for the tension and knots to soften in their own way. Now as an expression of gratitude, say thank you to your own body for caring so much, for holding so much as you move through the days and nights. Tell your body, “I’m ok just now—you can relax. You can rest.” Now bring your attention to your heart that carries so much. Notice all that your heart has been holding: longings, fear, love, worry, frustration, excitement, sadness, appreciation, doubt, deep love. Say thank you to your heart for caring so much, for trying to help and protect you. Tell your heart, “I’m ok just now—you can relax. You can rest.” Let your heart be at ease. Now bring your attention to your mind that produces a stream of thoughts, images, pictures, plans, memories, ideas. Feel the energy of the mind, creative, sometimes obsessed, analyzing, exploring, opening. Say thank you for working so hard to take care of you, to protect you. Tell your mind, “I’m ok just now—you can relax. You can rest.” Notice that you’re not your body, feelings, thoughts. You are the loving witness, you are consciousness itself. You are the loving awareness that acknowledges the body, heart and mind. Relax into loving awareness. You are the silent, vast witness to it all.
2021-11-22 Gratitude and Generosity Dharma Talk | Monday Night Talk 46:36
Jack Kornfield
Gratitude is a gracious acknowledgment of all that sustains us, a bow to our blessings, great and small. Gratitude is the confidence in life itself. In it, we feel how the same force that pushes grass through cracks in the sidewalk invigorates our own life. Gratitude does not envy or compare. Gratitude receives in wonder the myriad offerings of rain and sunlight, the care that supports every single life.
2021-11-24 Cultivating Generosity and Gratitude at the Time of Thanksgiving 65:05
Donald Rothberg
After we set the context of the holiday of Thanksgiving, including Native perspectives, we explore the inter-related qualities of generosity and gratitude. Gratitude is especially in relationship to acknowledging the generosity of others, and of life. We clarify a number of ways to cultivate these two qualities. The talk integrates some discussion and is followed by a longer period of discussion.
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