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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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2022-08-22 Tree of Enlightenment Meditation | Monday Night 24:53
Jack Kornfield
Let your body be present and also relaxed. As you let go, feel how the Earth completely supports you. Let the heart be soft to receive whatever arises with compassion. Begin to notice how the body is breathing itself, exchanging air with the leaves of the trees around you and with the breath of every other living being on Earth—we share this atmosphere.
2022-08-24 Guided Meditation Exploring Feeling-Tone and Reactivity 37:48
Donald Rothberg
After brief basic meditation instructions related to stabilizing attention with an anchor, and then being present to the anchor or whatever else is predominant, there is a 10-minute period of stabilizing. Then there is guidance related to noticing a moderate or greater level of the pleasant or unpleasant (as long as it is workable), staying with the sense of pleasant or unpleasant, noticing any tendencies to reactivity (wanting and grasping, or not wanting and pushing away, at the levels of body, emotions, and/or thoughts). Near the end, there is some further guidance on staying with moderately unpleasant sensations for 2 minutes or so.
2022-08-24 "I Teach Dukkha and the End of Dukkha"--1 69:18
Donald Rothberg
The Buddha, at the center of his teaching, taught "dukkha and the end of dukkha." Yet it is not always clear either what "dukkha" means in this context or what "the end of dukkha" means. In this talk, we explore this core teaching in several ways. First, we distinguish four different meanings of "dukkha" that can be seen in the discourses of the Buddha, only the last of which, interpreted as "reactivity," helps us to make sense of the "end of dukkha." (See the attached PDF file.) This meaning of dukkha can be reconstructed from two core teachings, the "Two Arrows" and Dependent Origination (see the attached PDF file). We then look at several ways of practicing with reactivity, including understanding and working with the common complexity of there frequently being some kind of insight or something important being "mixed" with reactivity, as, for example, when I am very reactive about injustice.
Attached Files:
  • Four Meanings of Dukkha by Donald Rothberg (PDF)
  • The Sequence of Contact to Grasping in the Buddha’s Teaching on Dependent Origination by Donald Rothberg (PDF)
2022-08-31 Guided Meditation Exploring Reactivity and Feeling-Tone 35:00
Donald Rothberg
After brief basic meditation instructions related to stabilizing attention with an anchor, and then being present to the anchor or whatever else is predominant, there is an 8-minute or so period of settling and stabilizing. Then there is guidance to notice and be mindful of any kinds of reactivity (manifesting in the body, emotions, and thoughts), if in the workable range. After another 10 minutes or, there is guidance to notice a moderate or greater level of the pleasant or unpleasant (as long as it is workable), staying with the sense of pleasant or unpleasant, noticing any tendencies to reactivity (wanting and grasping, or not wanting and pushing away, at the levels of body, emotions, and/or thoughts).
2022-08-31 "I Teach Dukkha and the End of Dukkha"--2 63:43
Donald Rothberg
This is the second of three talks in successive weeks on the "dukkha and the end of dukkha," at the center of the Buddha's teachings. Last week was an introduction and focused on individual practice; this week gives a review and then focuses on relational practice, with others. In the review, we once again point to the multiple meanings of "dukkha" in the Buddha's discourses, all but one of which don't help us to make sense of the "end of dukkha.". Rather, only an interpretation of dukkha coming out of the teachings of the Two Arrows and Dependent Origination, in which dukkha is understood as reactivity, as grasping or pushing away habitually in a variety of ways, can help us understand what "the end of dukkha" means (see the attached PDF file on the sequence from contact to grasping in the teaching of Dependent Origination). We then look at a number of ways of practicing with reactivity, and open to exploring the nature of reactivity in relational contexts, followed by pointing to a number of ways of practicing with reactivity in our relationships. The talk is followed by discussion.
Attached Files:
  • The Sequence of Contact to Grasping in the Buddha’s Teaching on Dependent Origination by Donald Rothberg (PDF)
2022-09-07 Guided Meditation Exploring Reactivity 38:27
Donald Rothberg
After initial instructions for settling and stabiliizing, and then for basic mindfulness, there are about 10 minutes for stabilizing, followed by brief instructions to track reactivity, and about 10 minutes later for exploring moderate or great levels of pleasant or unpleasant (when in the workable range for mindfulness), noticing any tendencies toward reactivity.
2022-09-07 Dukkha and the End of Dukkha 3: Practicing in the Social Realm 67:22
Donald Rothberg
In this third of three talks on "Dukkha and the End of Dukkha," perhaps the core teaching of the Buddha, we first review what was covered in the first two talks, starting with examining the multiple meanings of dukkha in the Buddha's teaching and the fact that most meanings of dukkha don't help us make sense of "the end of dukkha." Only a sense of dukkha as reactivity, as taught in the Two Arrows and in Dependent Origination suggest what the end of dukkha means. We then review ways of practicing with reactivity in individual practice, and in our relationships. On this basis, we then go further exploring the nature of reactivity in the larger social context, whether in individuals' reactivity or in various forms of institutionalized reactivity. We then look at two ways of practicing, first exploring our various forms of social conditioning, typically linked with reactivity, and then looking at how nonreactivity in Buddhist practice maps very closely onto the traditions of nonviolence from Gandhi, King, and others. This is followed by discussion, in which we in part look at some of the complexities and challenges of this approach.
Attached Files:
  • Slides on Nonviolent Movements by Donald Rothberg (PDF)
2022-09-12 The Reality of the Present Meditation | Monday Night 27:09
Jack Kornfield
With your eyes closed, sense yourself seated here in the reality of the present, just now—be here now, in this moment. Feel a connection to the ground beneath you—you're held to Mother Earth by gravity. Feel the steadiness, groundedness of taking this seat half way between Heaven and Earth, under your own tree of enlightenment. Let the heart be soft to receive whatever arises in the spirit of kindness and compassion.
2022-09-14 Religious Imagination: An event can be true even if it did not happen! 1:43:12
Sylvia Boorstein
Attached Files:
2022-09-21 Meditative Techniques to End Confusion 1:40:09
Sylvia Boorstein
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