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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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2023-07-17 The Nature of Awakening: Traditional and Contemporary Paths of Awakening 68:04
We examine first the Buddha’s teachings about awakening, We see how he understands the process as involving two processes. We are mindful of and work through what gets in the way of touching our natural awakening—greed, hatred, and delusion (or the two forms of reactivity—grasping after the pleasant and pushing away the unpleasant, along with ignorance about the nature of impermanence, reactivity or Dukkha, and not-self). We also develop those qualities which both support and manifest awakening, qualities identified in the teaching of the Seven Factors of Awakening. We see further how the Buddha at times identified the nature of awakened awareness as “signless, boundless, all-luminous,” and trace similar accounts of awakened awareness in the Thai Forest tradition and Tibetan Dzogchen and Mahāmudrā. Then we ask the question about whether these wonderful teachings and associated practices are sufficient for awakening in the contemporary world. We point to how such teachings and practices are crucial but also need to be complemented by and integrated with a contemporary map of awakening, identifying forms of contemporary conditioning (and greed, hatred, and delusion) that are not found in the traditional account. Broadly speaking, we can identify two inter-related core areas—a first identifying more “psychological” conditioning, and more “social” conditioning (for example, around gender, race, sexual orientation, age, etc.). The talk is followed by discussion.
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Spirit Rock Live: Monday Night with Donald Rothberg
2023-07-17 Guided Meditation Exploring the Factors of Awakening 31:11
Basic instructions in developing concentration and stability, on the one hand, and mindfulness, on the other, are given in the context of the teaching of the Seven Factors of Awakening; concentration and mindfulness are two of the seven factors. We also explore inquiry or investigation, a third factor, in the context of mindfulness.
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Spirit Rock Live: Monday Night with Donald Rothberg
2023-07-12 Cultivating Wise Speech 1 61:53
We look first at the importance of wise speech, the way that it forms an integral part of the path of awakening, the way that it is often underdeveloped in Western Buddhist practice, for various reasons, and some of the challenges of speech. We then examine three aspects of wise speech practice: (1) developing presence in the midst of communication; (2) working with the four guidelines for skillful speech developed by the Buddha; and (3) integrating our practice to be mindful and skillful with thoughts, emotions, and body states with our speech practice. The talk is followed by discussion, focused especially on some challenging relational and speech situations.
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Monday and Wednesday Talks
2023-07-09 Dukkha and the End of Dukkha 59:13
The Buddha famously said, "I teach dukkha and the end of dukkha." Yet what does this core statement of the teachings mean? In this talk, we explore at least four meanings of dukkha in the discourses; not recognizing these different meanings can lead to considerable confusion. Only one of these four meanings of dukkha, dukkha as reactivity, helps us to understand directly "the end of dukkha." We look particularly at the teachings of the Two Arrows and of Dependent Origination to support the understanding of dukkha as reactivity, clarifying some of the complexities of the teaching (including that very commonly our reactivity is mixed with some insight, pointing to how what is important is to "transform" reactivity rather than simply suppress it or get rid of it). Lastly, we suggest a number of different ways to practice with reactivity. The talk is followed by a period of discussion.
Benicia Insight Meditation
2023-06-14 Deepening Daily Life Practice: Eight Ways 62:15
We start with an emphasis on the importance of daily life practice, and on some of the ways that it is sometimes seen as secondary in insight meditation, when we center formal practice and retreats. We then explore eight different ways to deepen daily life practice, inviting the listener to see which one or two ways most resonate as part of one's "next steps" in deepening daily life practice. The talk is followed by a period of reflection and then by discussion.
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Monday and Wednesday Talks
2023-06-14 Guided Meditation Related to Several Ways of Deepening Daily Life Practice 36:38
We work with several modes of practice which can be developed in formal practice as well as in daily life (and that are discussed in the talk and discussion following this guided meditation). After a period of grounding in the body, we work with a heart practice (such as lovingkindness), a specific teaching (practicing with the sequence from contact to the feeling-tone of pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral, to wanting, and to grasping from the teaching of Dependent Origination is briefly given), and a "mixing" or "mingling" of formal meditation and a daily life activity.
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Monday and Wednesday Talks
2023-05-21 Discussion after Small Groups 17:33
Donald Rothberg Online :  Transforming the Judgmental Mind Follow-Up Group 2023
2023-05-17 Being with Daily Life Experience As "Sacred": Some Further Ways of Practicing 61:37
After a guided meditation exploring the theme (also on Dharma Seed), we continue for a second week to examine how to support a sense of the ordinary aspects of daily life as being part of the process of awakening, as "sacred" or "sacramental," as connected moment-by-moment with our deeper values (and finding what language about this and what practices support us). We review the session from last time, with references to Christian, Jewish, and Buddhist contemplative practitioners who have articulated this sense of daily life practice, examining what gets in the way of this way of being with daily life (especially busyness, being lost in difficult emotions, and being cut off from the kind heart), and what supports it. Through stories and poetry, we then look in more depth at cultivating a sense of presence and even mystery in daily life, at how joy can open up this sense, and how it can be very helpful to support in different ways our understanding how the transformation of our wounds and difficulties can be seen as part of a "purification" process. In the discussion, we look more deeply into many of these themes.
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Monday and Wednesday Talks
2023-05-17 Guided Meditation Exploring Presence, Mystery, and Seeing Our Moment-to-Moment Practice as Part of the Awakening Process 39:05
After initial instructions, including inviting us to connect with our deeper intentions and as well practice with a sense of moment-to-moment mystery, we have about 10 minutes of silent practice, followed by further brief instructions inviting a moment-to-moment sense of presence and mystery, another 10 minutes of silent practice, further brief instructions on seeing our practice as connected with our awakening, and another ten minutes of silent practice.
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Monday and Wednesday Talks
2023-05-10 Being with Daily Life Experience As Sacred: Some Ways of Practicing 60:45
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Monday and Wednesday Talks

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