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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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2024-06-12 Practicing with Views, Beliefs, and Positions 1 61:19
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Monday and Wednesday Talks
2024-05-22 Developing Concentration (Samadhi) 2 65:57
We review some of the main themes from last week's talk on developing concentration (samadhi), including the importance of such practice for the Buddha and his teachings; without samadhi, the Buddha says, there is no freedom. We examine ways of practicing (including outside of formal meditation) and look at some of the factors that indicate a deepening of samadhi (the jhanic factors). We then review the main challenges of developing samadhi, particularly over-active minds, sleepiness and low energy, and over-efforting. We also explore further challenges to the development of samadhi, including working with background thoughts, the ways that more unconscious material can surface in cultivating samadhi, and attachment to concentrated states. The talk is followed by discussion.
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Monday and Wednesday Talks
2024-05-22 Guided Meditation: Developing Concentration (Samadhi) 2 35:36
After a short overview about the nature of concentration (samadhi), there is basic guidance on cultivating samadhi along with some more advanced instruction in the last third of the guided meditation.
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Monday and Wednesday Talks
2024-05-15 Developing Concentration (Samadhi) 1 64:02
There are two main forms of meditation as taught by the Buddha: Developing concentration and developing insight. We explore how they go together, the nature of concentration (samadhi), and the different ways of developing samadhi. We also look at some of the typical challenges of developing samadhi, particularly over-active minds, sleepiness and low energy, and over-efforting. Throughout there is an emphasis on finding ways to integrate active effort with ease and relaxation. The talk is followed by discussion.
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Monday and Wednesday Talks
2024-05-15 Guided Meditation: Developing Concentration (Samadhi) 36:25
At the beginning, there is a short discussion of the nature and importance of cultivating concentration or samadhi, followed by practical meditative guidance at the beginning and during the session.
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Monday and Wednesday Talks
2024-04-10 Ten Ways of Deepening Practice 66:11
We continue with the main ways of deepening practice identified in the talk from the week before, based on ways of deepening experienced in Donald's March four weeks of retreat. We go into more depth on each of the ten, inviting listeners to choose one or two ways of deepening for the next period of time. The talk is followed by discussion, and there's a downloadable pdf listing the ten ways of deepening practice (see below).
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Monday and Wednesday Talks
Attached Files:
  • Ten Ways of Deepening Practice by Donald Rothberg (PDF)
2024-04-03 Ways of Deepening Practice and Taking One's Next Steps: Reflections on a Four-Week Retreat 51:05
Following four weeks of Donald's personal retreat, he identifies a number of ways of deepening practice that he experienced and that we might bring into our lives. The invitation is to see what one or two or three ways of deepening resonate and seem to call us to our "next steps." Among the ways of deepening are going on retreats (understood as periods of intensive training), staying in touch with and periodically remembering one's deeper intentions, pausing and stopping regularly, clarifying priorities, the importance of working with the subtle energy body, opening to non-doing in meditation and daily life, integrating awareness and metta, and finding ways of regularly coming back if stuck, caught in reactivity, or lost in thought. The talk is followed by discussion.
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Monday and Wednesday Talks
2024-02-28 Transforming the Judgmental Mind 2 64:50
We begin by reviewing some and expanding last week's introduction to practicing to transform the judgmental mind, including clarifying our language and the way that in English "judgment" can ambiguously mean either an expression of the judgmental mind or a non-judgmental discernment. We identify examples of the judgmental mind, and point to how it can be understood in terms of the sequence of contact to grasping (and pushing away) in the Buddha's teaching on Dependent Origination, how negative judgments (in the sense of the judgmental mind) typically come out of unacknowledged or unprocessed pain. We also point to how our practice with the judgmental mind, as it goes deeper, begins to identify "limiting beliefs," often from childhood, that generate our most chronic judgments. We end the talk with naming a number of ways to practice with the judgmental mind. The talk is followed with discussion.
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Monday and Wednesday Talks
2024-02-28 Guided Meditation Exploring the Judgmental Mind 37:15
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).
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Monday and Wednesday Talks
2024-02-21 Transforming the Judgmental Mind 1 68:12
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.
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Monday and Wednesday Talks

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