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Retreat Dharma Talks

Monday and Wednesday Talks

Regular weekly talks given at the lower Spirit Rock meditation hall

Spirit Rock Meditation Center

  
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2022-05-11 Wise Understanding and Wise Intention 1:25:37
Sylvia Boorstein
2022-05-16 Here and Now Meditation | Monday Night 28:20
Jack Kornfield
Let yourself be settled. Turn your attention to here and now, and the present experience. You can rest on the Earth with ease and trust in this moment. With this embodied presence, begin to notice the experiences here and now. There will be sensations of the body, sounds, emotions, feelings. A parade of images and thoughts will come and go. You can take your seat just where you are, in the midst of these rising and passing experiences.
2022-05-16 The Most Basic Truths: Gateways to Freedom | Monday Night Talk 53:39
Jack Kornfield
When I first entered the monasteries in Thailand and Burma, I was taught everything is anicca (impermanent), dukkha (unsatisfactory), and anatta (no-self). The reason these were repeated over and over again is because if you see these, you see with the eyes of wisdom. Because everything is changing, the more you cling and hold on, the more you suffer. To free ourselves, we need to quiet the mind through some mindfulness in meditation. Then, instead of identifying with the changing conditions, we learn to release them and turn toward consciousness itself, to rest in the knowing. My teacher Ajahn Chah called this pure awareness, "the original mind," or resting in "the one who knows." As the Jiddu Krishnamurti said, β€œIt is the truth that liberates, and not your efforts to be free.” With practice, we discover the selflessness of experience; we shift identity. We can be in the midst of an experience, being upset or angry or caught by some problem, and then step back from it and rest in pure awareness. We let go; we release holding any thought or feeling as "I" or "mine." We release the whole sense of identification, and the conditioned world is just anicca (impermanent), dukkha (unsatisfactory), and anatta (empty of self) -- it has nothing to do with our true nature. We learn to trust pure awareness itself. This is one of the ways Ajahn Chah taught about liberation. Awakening is always here and now. Practicing this way, your life is transformed.
2022-05-18 Practicing with Fear 2 68:32
Donald Rothberg
We review briefly some of what we covered in the last session (April 27) on practicing with fear. We then explore the various types of fear reported in the group, what we find bringing mindfulness to hear, particularly what's experienced in the body and in the mind, and the importance of having antidotes to fear, when the level of fear is at a high level and our usual practices are not effective. We also point to the way that as we develop and move into new areas of learning, we also often open up to new fears that are part of the new territory. We close with a period of questions and sharing.
2022-05-25 Practicing with Fear 3 66:03
Donald Rothberg
We start by acknowledging the mass shooting in Texas that occurred yesterday, in the context of our practicing with fear, following up an earlier guided meditation and sharing (not recorded) related to the shooting. We then look generally at the three core ways of practicing with fear, going into some depth on each: (1) cultivating mindfulness and clear seeing (wisdom), (2) working with the heart practices, and (3) acting skillfully. We then focus on how the process of awakening typically involves at each new stage an opening to fear, and also mention some of the dynamics of the "Dark Night of the Soul." Lastly, we look at how to explore and work with fear related to our social world, in terms of the three ways of practicing with fear. There follows a period of discussion.
2022-06-01 What is the Bliss of Blamelessness? 1:27:49
Sylvia Boorstein
2022-06-15 By Not Clinging to Fixed Views 1:37:52
Sylvia Boorstein
2022-06-22 Practicing with Polarization, Differences, and Conflict: Six Basic Practices 68:22
Donald Rothberg
In the context of increased political polarization in the United States and many other places, we look at how, in so many settings, whether the larger political situation, or social change organizations, or spiritual communities, there is very often a lack of skill in working with differences and conflicts. We examine some of the roots of why being with differences and conflicts is hard, including widespread social conditioning to be either conflict-avoidant or conflict-indulgent, and several other core roots. We then suggest six basic practices which address these roots, including: (1) being willing to open to and explore differences and conflicts, (2) empathy, (3) working with views, (4) working with reactivity and difficult emotions, (5) wise speech, and (6) heart practices. The invitation to listeners is to practice these six (or some of the six) for the next period of time!
2022-06-27 Centering Meditation | Monday Night 26:30
Jack Kornfield
Rest in the reality of the present with mindful, loving awareness. Sit like a Buddha, steady and kind, with heart open, gracious and wise in the midst of it all. You are the loving witness; you are the steady one.
2022-06-27 Mindful Respect | Monday Night Talk 54:10
Jack Kornfield
In India, when people greet one another they put their palms together and bow, saying namaste, β€œI honor the divine within you.” It is a way of acknowledging your Buddha nature, who you really are. When I was training as a Buddhist monk, I witnessed an aura of straightforwardness, graciousness, and trust around my teacher Ajahn Chah. Here was a community dedicated to treating each person with respect and dignity. In the monastery, the walking paths were swept daily, the robes and bowls of the monks were tended with care. We learned to value ourselves and others equally. Whether practiced in a forest monastery or anywhere else, mindfulness practice begins by deliberately cultivating respect, starting with ourselves. When we learn to rest in our own goodness, we can see the goodness more clearly in others.
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