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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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2020-05-22 Wise Speech Daylong: Talk 2 and Exercise 2 (Dyads): Developing mindfulness and presence in speech practice 23:04
Spirit Rock Meditation Center
2020-05-22 Wise Speech Daylong: Talk 1: On the importance of speech practice and foundational ethical guidelines for speech 20:30
Spirit Rock Meditation Center
2020-05-13 From the Ordinary Mind to the Buddha Mind 18: Transforming Reactivity 2 69:47
We first review the main themes from last time: (1) the nature of reactivity, and dukkha as reactivity in the Buddha's teachings, (2) the nature of awakening and freedom as liberation from reactivity, and (3) four main ways to practice with reactivity. We then look more deeply, noticing that very commonly reactivity is mixed with insight, discernment, intelligence, or something important or valuable, as when I become reactive when someone doesn't keep an agreement, or at social injustice. We explore how to transform reactivity by separating out what is valuable from the reactivity, in a number of ways, so that we can keep the insight or intelligence, and use it as the basis for wise, compassionate action. We close the talk with Eve Decker singing, "Simple Truth," about skillful ways to work with reactive self-judgment, and then have a period of discussion, including questions.
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Monday and Wednesday Talks
2020-05-06 From the Ordinary Mind to the Buddha Mind 17: Transforming Reactivity 1 68:42
We begin with some remembering of our current context of crisis, and the possibility of having major learning and transformation come out of this time—personally, relationally, and collectively—rather than simply going back to the old “normal.” Then we continue to explore the different dimensions of awakening from our habits and conditioning, here looking at what may be the most central dimension—transforming dukkha (or “reactivity”—compulsively grasping after the pleasant, pushing away the unpleasant); the Buddha said once, “I teach dukkha and the end of dukkha.” We examine: (1) the nature of dukkha or reactivity, grounding in the core teachings of Dependent Origination and the Two Arrows; (2) the nature of non-reactivity, or freedom or liberation or responsiveness; and (3) how to practice to transform reactivity, identifying six ways of practicing, and focusing here on the first four.
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Monday and Wednesday Talks
2020-04-08 Practicing with the Pandemic 2: Cultivating Compassion and Equanimity 65:20
After a brief review of some of the suggested ways to practice with the pandemic given last week, we explore two key capacities for our times: Compassion and equanimity. We look into the key aspects of compassion and equanimity and also how to cultivate them. For each of the two qualities, we also have songs inspired by and inspiring the qualities, from Eve Decker. A period of discussion, including questions and responses, concludes the session.
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Monday and Wednesday Talks
2020-04-01 Practicing during the Pandemic: Perspectives, Practices, and Suggestions 2 21:26
Questions and responses, as well as suggestions and shared insights from the group.
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Monday and Wednesday Talks
2020-04-01 Practicing during the Pandemic: Perspectives, Practices, and Suggestions 1 30:39
A talk giving a number of ways to approach this time of "sheltering-in-place" in terms of perspectives, intentions, core practices, and skillful actions, seeing the crisis as a great opportunity as well as a challenge.
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Monday and Wednesday Talks
2020-03-04 From the Ordinary Habitual Mind to the Buddha Mind 16: Working with Our Psychological Conditioning 3 62:28
We begin by pointing to how combining traditional Buddhist training with transforming psychological and social conditioning and unresolved material suggests the contours of a contemporary path of awakening. We then identify some of the main areas of the contemporary “shadow,” of unconscious, unresolved conditioning and developmental wounds, such as anger, fear, death, shame, conflict, trauma, grief, sexuality, and so on. We then give a “map” of four stages in the transformation of the shadow (particularly in a meditative context), starting with finding ways to access the shadow, then learning to be with and explore the shadow, then transforming the shadow, and then integrating the shadow work with daily life.
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Monday and Wednesday Talks
2020-02-26 From the Ordinary Habitual Mind to the Buddha Mind 15: Working with Our Psychological Conditioning 2 52:45
We continue to explore the role of working with transforming psychological conditioning and unresolved material (incomplete developmental tasks, developmental wounds, trauma, limiting beliefs, etc.) in a contemporary path of awakening. Using the concepts of unconscious material and of the “shadow” (individual and collective), we point to how the Buddha faced his own shadow (the four heavenly messengers that he found outside of his conditioning in the palace). We then explore some tools and ways to open to and work with unconscious or shadow aspects of ourselves, both in and out of formal meditation.
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Monday and Wednesday Talks
2020-02-19 From the Ordinary Habitual Mind to the Buddha Mind 14: Working with Our Psychological Conditioning (Talk Begins at 57:07) 2:00:51
In this session, we explore first in a more general way the complex relationship between transforming our psychological conditioning (including any residues of trauma) and meditative training, pointing to a kind of emerging contemporary map of how these practices come together (and how this map relates to more traditional maps). Near the end of the talk are inquiry questions to help us explore our own unresolved issues of a more psychological nature.
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Monday and Wednesday Talks

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