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Donald Rothberg's Dharma Talks
Donald Rothberg
Donald Rothberg, PhD, has practiced Insight Meditation since 1976, and has also received training in Tibetan Dzogchen and Mahamudra practice and the Hakomi approach to body-based psychotherapy. Formerly on the faculties of the University of Kentucky, Kenyon College, and Saybrook Graduate School, he currently writes and teaches classes, groups and retreats on meditation, daily life practice, spirituality and psychology, and socially engaged Buddhism. An organizer, teacher, and former board member for the Buddhist Peace Fellowship, Donald has helped to guide three six-month to two-year training programs in socially engaged spirituality through Buddhist Peace Fellowship (the BASE Program), Saybrook (the Socially Engaged Spirituality Program), and Spirit Rock (the Path of Engagement Program). He is the author of The Engaged Spiritual Life: A Buddhist Approach to Transforming Ourselves and the World and the co-editor of Ken Wilber in Dialogue: Conversations with Leading Transpersonal Thinkers.
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2022-01-14 Metta and Forgiveness--(Retreat at Spirit Rock) 61:14
We first explore several important themes in metta practice: (1) how metta practice can be seen as a training in learning to “lead” with the heart; (2) ways of working with difficult experiences, such as anger, fear, and the presence of the judgmental mind, that can arise in the “purification” process connected with metta practice; (3) how metta practice opens us to our radiant depths; and (4) the nature of metta practice with the “difficult person” and its connection with forgiveness practice. Then we explore the nature of forgiveness—clarifying what it is and isn’t; distinguishing between forgiveness as an outer, interpersonal and social process, giving several examples, including from the Heiltsuk indigenous tradition and South Africa, and forgiveness as an inner practice; and identifying some of dynamics of inner forgiveness practice.
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Metta Retreat: Cultivating the Wise, Awakened, and Responsive Heart
2022-01-11 The Nature of Metta and Metta Practice--(Retreat at Spirit Rock) 59:49
Metta practice is one version of the ancient vocation to live from kindness and love, that is found across spiritual traditions. In Buddhist tradition, it is in the family of “heart practices” that are called the brahmavihara: Lovingkindness, compassion, appreciative joy, and equanimity. In this context, we explore how metta practice both opens us up to this deep kindness and warmth and to what is the way of metta. We also examine some of the challenges of metta practice.
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Metta Retreat: Cultivating the Wise, Awakened, and Responsive Heart
2022-01-05 Inquiry as a Factor of Awakening in Formal Meditation and Daily Life 2 64:10
In this second exploration of the nature of inquiry or investigation, we first review some of what was covered in the first talk. We situate inquiry or investigation within the teaching of the Seven Factors of Awakening, as one of the three "energizing" factors. After outlining five modes of inquiry and reviewing the first two--inquiring with mindfulness and deep listening--covered last time, we explore a third mode of inquiry--using a teaching to guide one's practice--pointing to using several possible teachings as examples. We then focus on a fourth mode--radical questioning--giving several examples. We end with a period of discussion and dialogue.
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Monday and Wednesday Talks
2022-01-05 Guided Meditation Exploring Several Forms of Inquiry 2 35:53
After a period of settling, we work with two main forms of inquiry or investigation (one of the Seven Factors of Awakening). The first is inquiry through mindfulness when an experience has some duration: Asking what's happening and exploring what's going in the body, the emotions, and the story-line or narrative. The second is inquiry through working with a teaching. Here we work with a simple teaching, coming from the Four Noble Truths: "If there's suffering (or struggle), where's the attachment (or fixed idea, etc.)?" We explore these in formal meditation; they can also be applied in the flow of daily life.
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Monday and Wednesday Talks
2021-12-29 Inquiry as a Factor of Awakening in Formal Meditation and Daily Life 1 67:37
Inquiry is one of the Seven Factors of Awakening, and can be a crucial factor in our practice, leading to greater energy, interest, and learning. Yet we may believe that meditation should be about "not thinking." We explore how we need to be able to not be ruled by thinking; this can make it possible then to use thinking and question fruitfully in inquiry. In the talk, we outline five modes of inquiry, going into depth on two of them: (1) bringing inquiry into our mindfulness practice in several ways, and (2) listening deeply, particularly through the body and emotions (in the "dropping down practice") when there are repetitive thoughts and narratives. After the talk, there is discussion.
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Monday and Wednesday Talks
2021-12-29 Guided Meditation Exploring Several Forms of Inquiry 1 35:25
After some basic instructions in settling with an anchor, and on being with and seeing clearly what's predominant when somewhat settled, we can also explore several instructions for bringing inquiry (or investigation) into practice, through (1) asking what is present right now; (2) exploring with mindfulness an experience that has some duration, asking, "What's going on in the body? . . . What emotion is there and how does it change? . . . What's the narrative or storyline"; and (3) examining the memory of a challenging experience, and inquiring into what is present in re-living that experience.
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Monday and Wednesday Talks
2021-12-01 The Seven Factors of Awakening 2: Cultivating Mindfulness and Equanimity in Formal Meditation and in Daily Life 69:14
Our practice aims at awakening (and awakened beings help others awaken). We review briefly the nature of awakening for the Buddha and later Buddhist traditions, and the centrality of the teaching of the Seven Factors of Awakening. We then explore the two foundational factors--mindfulness and equanimity--identifying their core qualities, as well as how to practice to cultivate each of these factors, both in formal meditation and in the movement of daily life. There is a talk and then discussion.
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Monday and Wednesday Talks
2021-11-24 Cultivating Generosity and Gratitude at the Time of Thanksgiving 65:05
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.
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Monday and Wednesday Talks
2021-11-17 Doorways to Awakening 66:22
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.
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Monday and Wednesday Talks
2021-11-07 Talk #4: Introduction to Awakened Awareness. 65:07
There’s an outline of how in concentration practice and insight practice, there is deconstruction of some of the structures of ordinary experience, including the separation of knower and known, the solidity of the object, and the will (which is absent in choiceless awareness). We then explore the nature of awakened awareness, with references to how this appears in the teachings of the Buddha, the Thai Forest tradition, and the Tibetan Dzogchen and Mahamudra traditions. Finally, some of the main accessing techniques to open to awakened awareness are described.
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Settling, Seeing, and Luminous Awareness

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