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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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2022-02-11 Opening Our Hearts to Love—For Ourselves and For Others 51:11
with Donald Rothberg, Fresh Lev White
Just before this Valentine’s Day, we’ll explore, in meditation and a talk and discussion, what helps us to open our hearts to our deep loving nature, and what gets in the way of such opening. We’ll focus on how central it is, and often how hard it is, to be able to develop and express self-love and self-compassion. Yet these qualities are necessary for bringing love into our relationships and into our world, which deeply needs love and heart connections. We’ll identify perspectives and practices which help us to open our hearts to love!
East Bay Meditation Center
2022-02-09 Donald Rothberg and Yassir Chadly in Dialogue on Buddhist and Sufi Perspectives and Practices: A Gathering of Wisdom, Love, and Respect 66:34
Yassir Chadly, a long-time friend of Donald's who is a Sufi teacher, musician, and former Olympic swimmer, originally from Morocco, is in dialogue with Donald, and then, during the last part of the session, with the whole group. We explore Yassir's background, the three main levels of practice in Sufism, practicing in Sufism with what arises in the heart, parallels between Sufi and Buddhist practice, how to make sense of how and why some act negatively in the name of a religion (we discuss Islam and Buddhism), the unity of traditions in their deep mystical expressions, and the need to work together across traditions in our current world.
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Monday and Wednesday Talks
Attached Files:
2022-02-02 Honoring the Great Teacher of Interbeing and Engaged Buddhism, Thich Nhat Hanh 65:16
There is weaving together in the talk of several areas, including (1) Donald's stories of his encounters with and learning from Thich Nhat Hanh, starting in 1987; (2) the life story of Thich Nhat (1926-2022); and (3) exploring Thich Nhat Hanh's core teachings, including his teachings about "interbeing," engaged Buddhism, mindfulness, and "being peace." There is a slide show of Thich Nhat Hanh's life shown during the talk available as a pdf file. The talk is followed by the first 3 minutes and 19 seconds of a video of Thich Nhah Hanh talking about "War and Peace Within" ( and a period of discussion.
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Monday and Wednesday Talks
Attached Files:
  • Slide Show on the Life of Thich Nhat Hanh by Donald Rothberg (PDF)
2022-02-02 A Guided Meditation in the Manner of Thich Nhat Hanh 36:47
A 35-minute or so guided meditation in the manner of Thich Nhat Hanh (connected with the talk honoring Thich Nhat Hanh). The guided meditation is mostly silent, with three short periods of guidance, using these words: (1) Breathing in, I know I am breathing in. Breathing out, I know I am breathing out. Breathing in, I calm myself. Breathing out, I feel at ease. (2) Breathing in, I calm body and mind. Breathing out, I smile. Dwelling in the present moment I know this is the only moment. Bring body and mind back to the present moment. So that you do not miss the appointment with life. (3) Breathing in, I see myself as a flower. Breathing out, I feel fresh. Breathing in, I see myself as a mountain. Breathing out, I feel solid. Breathing in, I see myself as still water. Breathing out, I reflect all that is. Breathing in, I see myself as space. Breathing out, I feel free.
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Monday and Wednesday Talks
2022-01-14 Metta and Forgiveness 61:05
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 52:10
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 66:41
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

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