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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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2018-10-24 Cultivating Wise Speech 2 2:06:45
Description:We review first why speech practice is so important and how it connects with the Noble Eightfold Path, and then two of the foundations of skillful or wise (or right) speech. We cover: (1) working with the four guidelines from the Buddha for wise speech, and how we can use the guidelines both to guide our speech and as spurs for mindfulness, when we find ourselves going against the guidelines; and (2) developing a sense of presence during speaking and listening. We then explore some general ways to strengthen our speech practice, as well as begin to bring it into challenging or difficult situations involving speech and interaction. We end with a speech exercise involving dyads, and discussion of the exercise and our practice generally.
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Monday and Wednesday Talks
2018-10-17 Cultivating Wise Speech 1 64:49
We start with an overview of the contemporary importance of training in wise speech, and the place of wise (or "right") speech traditionally, as one of the factors of the Noble Eightfold Path of the Buddha. We then examine two foundational aspects of wise speech, first a grounding in the ethical guidelines for speech given by the Buddha, and secondly the intention to be present and mindful during speaking and listening. Finally, there is a guided practice in dyads especially of the second foundational dimension of speech practice.
Spirit Rock Meditation Center
2018-10-09 Transforming Reactivity in Everyday Life 54:05
We look at "reactivity" as a non-literal "translation" and clarification of the nature of dukkha, and examine, through a talk and discussion, a number of ways to practice when reactivity or dukkha arises. We remember the Buddha's teaching: "I have taught one thing and one thing only, dukkha and the cessation of dukkha.”
Santa Fe Vipassana Sangha
2018-09-20 Four Stages in the Transformation of the Judgmental Mind (Retreat at Spirit Rock) 62:15
After first reflecting on how our work with the judgmental mind connects with traditional Buddhist practice, we explore four stages in the trans-formative process connected with direct inquiry into judgments. This complements the more indirect approach of developing the heart practices and awakened qualities.
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Transforming the Judgmental Mind
2018-09-18 Transforming the Judgmental Mind: An Overview (Retreat at Spirit Rock) 58:27
We explore the nature of the judgmental mind, its differentiation from non-reactive discernment, and some sample judgments (using "judgments" here to refer to expressions of the judgmental mind), including judgments related to social conditioning. We outline the two main modes of transformation involved in our practice, a more direct transformation of judgments, on the one hand, and the cultivation of awakened qualities (particularly through heart practices), on the other.
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Transforming the Judgmental Mind
2018-08-31 Cultivating Wise Speech - An Introduction 1:46:01
In this introduction to a daylong on Wise (or "Right") Speech, there is a focus on the importance of Wise Speech for our practice and on the core ethical guidelines for wise and skillful speech given by the Buddha.
Spirit Rock Meditation Center
2018-08-26 Deepening Insight Practice with the Support of Concentration Practice (Retreat at Spirit Rock) 66:01
Description: We first explore how concentration practice is both helpful and important for insight practice, and how the two practices are related. We then look at the nature of insight practice, and in particular examine three ways of liberating seeing in insight practice, namely practices in which we cultivate seeing anicca (impermanence), dukkha (reactivity or unreliability or suffering), and anatta (not-self).
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Concentration Retreat
2018-08-22 Skillful Effort in Concentration Practice (Retreat at Spirit Rock) 61:03
After some general reflections on the nature of concentration (or samadhi), concentration practice, and its place and importance, we explore the nature of skillful effort. We particularly focus on the balance of "pro-active" effort and relaxation/ease, identifying a number of specific practice tips and suggestions that support development in both aspects of practice, as well as how to cultivate the balance between the two. [A clarification about terminology: There are two terms that have at times been translated as "effort”: (1) The 6th factor of the Noble Eightfold Path is “Right Effort” (same vayama); (2) Viriya is one of the Five Spiritual Faculties and one of the Seven Factors of Awakening and is often translated as “energy,” sometimes as “effort.”]
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Concentration Retreat
2018-08-08 Practicing with Difficulties and Challenges 2: The Eight Worldly Winds 63:20
After a review of the six ways of practicing with difficulties and challenges presented last week, we explore the important teaching of the “Eight Worldly Winds” that keep us caught in reactivity—pleasure and pain, gain and loss, fame and disrepute, and praise and blame. Working with this teaching gives us another very helpful lens for working with difficulties and also with our tendencies to grasp—onto pleasure, gain, fame, and praise. We suggest several ways of practicing with this teaching, as a further way to deepen and energize our practice.
Spirit Rock Meditation Center
2018-08-01 Six Ways of Practicing with Difficulties and Challenges 64:45
One of the glories of our practice is the capacity to respond skillfully, with wisdom and compassion, to difficult, challenging, and/or painful experiences. In this talk and discussion, we explore six ways to practice skillfully with difficulties, focusing more in 1-5 on “inner" practices: (1) Stay connected with core teachings and perspectives, particularly about working with reactivity; (2) develop mindfulness in these situations, which helps us with non-reactivity and knowing what is happening; (3) have a few ways to come back to balance and non-reactivity after one is reactive, lost, stuck, or overwhelmed; (4) take the difficult situation as an opportunity to go more deeply, potentially uprooting some of the roots of reactivity and habitual tendencies; (5) continue to cultivate awakened qualities, helping us to shift our center of gravity from reactivity to responsiveness; and (6) cultivate ways of responding more skillfully in “outer” ways, including speech and interactions.
Spirit Rock Meditation Center

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