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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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2022-06-29 Practicing with Polarization, Differences, and Conflict 2 65:26
Donald Rothberg
We explore further a number of skillful practices and dharma resources for situations involving polarization, differences, and conflict, whether internal, relational, or collective that were identified in the previous week. Two days after last week's talk, the US Supreme Court overturned Roe vs. Wade; we start by examining the nature of polarization at the social level. We look also at the possibility of belonging, community, non-polarization, and moving toward Dr. King's "beloved community," in the midst of differences. Then we focus further on the centrality of empathy and listening to those with different perspectives, offering empathy practices that complement the other practices identified in the talk. The talk is followed by discussion.
2022-07-04 Dharma and Democracy: A Talk on the Fourth of July 67:15
Donald Rothberg
On the Fourth of July, we look at the relationship between the freedoms opened up by the dharma, the teachings and practices of awakening, and by the promise and actuality of democracy, at this time of peril for democracy in the U.S. and elsewhere. Can we imagine a spiritually-grounded democracy? To respond to this question, we examine the vision of democracy, remembering both some of the words of the founders and the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: "America is essentially a dream, a dream as yet unfulfilled. It is a dream of a land where people of all races, all nationalities and all creeds can live together as brothers and sisters." We also explore the vision of dharma and awakening, including the Buddha's creation of a community separate from the prevailing caste system of his time. Yet we also need to look at the many "shadows" of both democracy and dharma, which obscure the vision and prevent its full realization. We end by pointing to a number of ways to renew, develop, and practice our visions of "spiritual democracy" in the different parts of our lives.
2022-07-20 A Lightly Guided Meditation to Cultivate Equanimity 35:34
Donald Rothberg
After basic instructions in (1) settling and stabilizing attention, and (2) practicing mindfulness, there is a brief general guidance in practicing to cultivate equanimity, especially by noticing moments of reactivity (semi-consciously or unconsciously grasping or pushing away at the level of body, mind, or emotions), and exploring them. Such guidance is repeated about 15 minutes into the silent practice.
2022-07-20 Developing Equanimity in Meditation and Daily Life 56:14
Donald Rothberg
Equanimity is a balance and non-reactivity, and a connection to an inner freedom, with whatever is happening. It is a quality deeply needed both in meditation and in daily life, particularly in our challenging times. We explore equanimity first by seeing how it manifests in the lives of some of the most beloved humans who have lived, and then by identifying seven core qualities of equanimity. We identify as well some main ways of practicing to cultivate equanimity, and some of the challenges of such practices. We end with a discussion.
2022-07-25 Guided Lovingkindness Meditation | Monday Night 28:09
Jack Kornfield
There’s no wrong way to do metta or lovingkindness. Sometimes the practice of cultivating lovingkindness is simply to radiate love without words. Sometimes it’s to begin by holding yourself with kindness. Lovingkindness can be an antidote to anxiety and fear. We become more gracious with the difficulties of life as we open the heart.
2022-07-25 Wise Society | Monday Night Talk 55:48
Jack Kornfield
The inner practice of liberation is not an individual matter. One of the deepest realizations that comes when we meditate, as we pay attention, as we live a life of care and loving awareness, is the growing sense of interdependence. There is no separation between our body and the body of the earth. The minerals of the soil make up our wheat and our bones, the storm clouds become our drinks and our blood, the oxygen from the trees and forests is the air we breathe. The human community is equally interconnected. If we meet together in harmony and respect, care for the vulnerable among us, tend to the environment, and respect our citizens and neighbors, we will thrive and prosper.
2022-07-27 A Guided Meditation Cultivating Equanimity and Compassion 37:48
Donald Rothberg
After basic instructions in (1) settling and stabilizing attention, and (2) practicing mindfulness, there is 5-minute period of settling and stabilizing. Then there are several practice suggestions for cultivating equanimity, especially by noticing and exploring reactivity and any appearances of the "Eight Worldly Winds." After another 10 minutes or so, there is also guidance in two main ways of developing compassion, through opening in mindfulness to what is difficult or painful, and through a three-step self-compassion practice from Kristin Neff.
2022-07-27 Developing Equanimity and Compassion Together 68:53
Donald Rothberg
We begin by examining again the nature of equanimity, identifying seven core qualities of equanimity, including a kind of faith or confidence, illustrated with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s account of his midnight "cup of coffee" experience. We point to two typical distortions of equanimity--being overly cool and cut off some from the awakened heart, and disconnecting from action. We then look at the nature of compassion, and see how the development of compassion helps us to respond to these two distortions. In a parallel way, we see how several typical distortions of compassion, such as pity (the "near enemy"), burnout, and confusion (or lack of wisdom), are remedied by the development of equanimity! Together, they help us develop wisdom and the awakened heart, supported by courage (as we learn from the Vietnamese Buddhist tradition).
2022-08-03 August 3rd Dharma Talk 1:49:21
Sylvia Boorstein
2022-08-15 For the Welfare of the Whole World 49:38
JD Doyle
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