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The greatest gift is the
gift of the teachings
James Baraz's Dharma Talks
James Baraz
I try to convey that the wisdom and compassion we are looking for is already inside of us. I see practice as learning how to purify our mind and heart so we can hear the Buddha inside. In doing so, we naturally embody the dharma and help awaken that understanding and love in others we meet.
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2023-02-01 Wise Effort: Finding Balance and Inclining toward the Wholesome 60:23
Two aspects of Wise Effort are explored: 1) how do we know if we're doing too little, too much or just enough with regard to effort in practice? and 2) the four aspects of wise efforts are discussed with particular emphasis on the importance of cultivating and increasing wholesome states.
Spirit Rock Meditation Center February Insight Meditation One Month Retreat
2023-01-26 Why Intensive Practice 54:25
Going through the process of sitting in silence over a long period of time is a unique and profound experience. What happens on a month-long retreat and why do people do it? Though it is not possible for everyone to get away for that length of time or have the desire to do it, the principles shared can be applied to shorter retreats as well
Insight Meditation Community of Berkeley
2023-01-12 Motivation from the Heart: The Place of Devotion in our Practice 53:50
Devotion is not a topic often spoken of in our Buddhist community. Yet it plays a significant role in monastic communities and Tibetan practices. The Buddha spoke of Saddha, one's heartfelt connection to practice as one of the Five Spiritual Faculties and Powers. Devotion can be a major source of inspiration which can fuel our practice. How can we access it and have it moisten and bring juice to our practice - even for those not naturally inclined that way.
Insight Meditation Community of Berkeley
2022-12-29 Endings and Beginnings: A Ritual for the New Year 39:30
An end of year reflection and ritual that includes letting go of the past--not the lessons but the baggage that may come with them--and visioning the future--what we want to create for ourselves moving forward.
Insight Meditation Community of Berkeley
2022-12-22 Celebrating Solstice: Honoring the Duality of Light in the Midst of Darkness 53:41
We explore going through the dark as an essential element of coming into the light. How can we grow through our own journey of facing challenges while staying committed to facing in the direction of greater light.
Insight Meditation Community of Berkeley
2022-11-17 Confidence and Humility: It's Not about Me 51:07
The Buddhist writer Wei Wu Wei wrote: "True humility is the absence of anyone to be proud." We are often humbled by life. How we handle it can either lead to defeat or profound growth. We explore how being humbled can deepen our capacity to open to all of our experience and strengthen our confidence and trust as we align ourselves with something greater than ourselves.
Insight Meditation Community of Berkeley
2022-10-20 Anything Can Happen at Anytime: Holding Loss with a Tender Heart 53:46
Our Dharma community is processing sad news this week that has sent a shock wave through the sangha. One of our respected teachers who led movement at many Spirit Rock retreats and mentored many students in the practice took her life after a long bout with health issues that affected her mental well-being. A truism of the law of impermanence is that "anything can happen at any time." I want to use this event as an opportunity to explore how the practice can help support us when a sudden major loss happens.
Insight Meditation Community of Berkeley
2022-10-13 It's Never Too Late: Responding Wisely with Unskillful Habits 26:17
Do you ever act on behaviors that you know don't support well-being but you choose to act on them anyway? I'm sure we all do. But how can we skillfully relate to that after the fact without self-judgment or self-recrimination? What are practices and teachings that help us to be patient as we go through this process of purification?
Insight Meditation Community of Berkeley
2022-10-06 From Heartbreak to Compassionate Action 55:06
Kaye Cleave is a sangha member and film producer of the award-winning movie Catherine's Kindergarten. Catherine’s Kindergarten is the story of Kaye's emotional journey to confront her grief after the death of her only child, juxtaposed with her physical journey to a Nepalese mountain village to open a school in memory of her daughter. It is a truly moving experience. I'm proud to be part of Kaye's journey and in the film. Kaye will share some of her story of how the practice helped her process her grief and transform it into compassionate action. We share a clip of the movie and discuss the process of how we can turn heartbreak into meaning.
Insight Meditation Community of Berkeley
2022-09-29 The Time is Now: Engagement as Practice 49:39
Practice is more than stress reduction or finding calm within ourselves. A natural expression of a wise heart is the wish to relieve suffering not only in ourselves but in others and in our world. As Thich Nhat Hanh teaches: "Compassion is a verb."
Insight Meditation Community of Berkeley

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