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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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2020-09-10 Holding a Positive Vision 53:47
It seems like an accomplishment just getting through such tumultuous times--wildfires on the West Coast, storms around the country, coronavirus lockdown and the US in daily chaos. It would be understandable to succumb to anxiety and overwhelm. But as the Buddha taught, practice is about overcoming negative thoughts when they arise and cultivating wholesome thoughts and mind-states. We will explore the importance of holding a positive vision even through the storm.
Insight Meditation Community of Berkeley
2020-09-03 The Buddha as a Social Activist. 43:20
Sometimes the teachings seem to suggest a life of withdrawing from the world. But the Buddha himself was an example of engagement and could even be called a political revolutionary. As we try to sort out how to apply the teachings, (including duties of a good ruler) to contemporary issues, it can help to see his teachings in that light.
Insight Meditation Community of Berkeley
2020-08-27 Keeping Your Heart Open 57:24
It seems like we're collectively going through an intense initiation in so many ways--the wildfires, the virus, racial injustice, economic collapse and an election fraught with acrimony. The Buddha taught: "Hatred never ceases from hatred. Hatred only ceases from love." How can the teachings support us to skillfully keep our hearts open not only to those suffering but those who, through ignorance, cause suffering as well?
Insight Meditation Community of Berkeley
2020-08-13 Resilience with guest speaker Eve Decker 45:21
Insight Meditation Community of Berkeley
2020-08-06 Keep Out the Hate, Let in the Love 46:19
How can we prevent succumbing to all the negativity around us--messages of fear, hatred or despair from the media or people in our lives? Can we protect ourselves and process the very real issues facing us while letting ourselves still be nourished by the goodness that's around us?
Insight Meditation Community of Berkeley
2020-07-17 We Are What we Think 54:12
The Buddha taught: "We are what we think. With our thoughts we make the world." We will explore mana or "the conceit of I am" and how we construct a sense of self with our mind. Based on how we see ourselves or how we compare with others, mana or the conceit of “I am” is born. This tendency leads to "The Three Conceits: I am superior, I am inferior, I am equal to." If we're not mindful, we then erroneously proceed to make a permanent, solid entity of self. We explore how not seeing this clearly creates suffering and how we can free ourselves of this self-constructed suffering.
Insight Meditation Community of Berkeley IMCB Regular Talks
2020-07-10 How Not to Be a Hot Mess 63:15
Devon and Craig Hase join James in sharing about their new book How Not to Be a Hot Mess: A Survival Guide for Modern Life. The book offers a playful exploration of living a life of Integrity based on the teachings of the Buddha. Devon and Craig lead meditation retreats throughout North America and Europe. Devon teaches at the Insight Meditation Society and Spirit Rock. Craig spent six years in a Zen monastery and teaches mindfulness meditation, and dharma full time.
Insight Meditation Community of Berkeley IMCB Regular Talks
2020-07-03 Applying Early Buddhist Perspective to Contemporary Issues 55:09
Ven. Bhikkhu Analayo has just written an essay exploring how the early Buddhist perspective shows that diversity work can become an integral part of the Buddhist path of practice. We will explore some of Ven. Analayo's ideas and see how we can apply them in our own practice. We'll also touch a recent article by Bhikkhu Bodhi, another esteemed Buddhist scholar, entitled "From Tragedy to Hope: Reflections on the Killing of George Floyd".
Insight Meditation Community of Berkeley IMCB Regular Talks
2020-06-18 Racism and White Privilege - Part 3: Working with Guilt and Shame 52:18
The Buddha spoke of hiri and ottappa (Shame and Dread) as "The Guardians of the World." These are considered two wholesome states as they can prevent us from engaging in unskillful actions. But guilt and shame associated with internalized racism can paralyze us or put up walls of resistance. This is especially true if we take those feelings personally and blame ourselves for the cultural conditioning we're shaped by. How can we work skillfully with those natural and understandable reactions?
Insight Meditation Community of Berkeley IMCB Regular Talks
2020-06-11 Racism and White Privilege with Special Guest Deb Kerr - Part 2 57:13
We will continue our exploration of Racial Justice and White Privilege with Deb Kerr. who led us in a rich discussion last week. Deb is a core teacher at East Bay Meditation Center where she is a co-founder of EBMC and has served on the EBMC Board. Deb will offer teachings on how educating ourselves about race relates to and is an extension of dharma practice and how it connects the dots to the larger picture of systemic change.
Insight Meditation Community of Berkeley IMCB Regular Talks

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