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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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2020-06-24 Buddhist Practice and the Transformation of Racism 2 65:20
Traditional Buddhist training occurs through development in wisdom, ethics, and meditation. We use this model to help us to understand Buddhist practice that aims to transform racism. We start by reviewing briefly the first three perspectives offered in the previous week, which fall under training in wisdom. Then we look at how ethical practice and in particular the practice of non-harming can be the basis for action, based on an understanding of ethical practice as guiding both one's personal behavior and one's responses to harm in one's communities and society. Lastly, we explore meditative training and how in particular mindfulness and compassion play central roles in the transformation of racism.
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Monday and Wednesday Talks
2020-06-17 Buddhist Practice and the Transformation of Racism 1: Five Perspectives 66:26
We open up five perspectives, the first three of which have more to do with understanding and the last two of which have more to do with practice and action. The five perspectives are: (1) remembering the Buddha's elimination of caste within his community; (2) understanding how greed, hatred (including racism), and delusion are not just personal but are also institutionalized; (3) understanding through looking at US history how race is a construction (with terrible consequences)-- both initially in the 17th century and later, commonly linked with divide-and-conquer strategies by those with economic and political power; (4) how our ethical practice calls us not just not to harm in our personal actions, but also not to let harm be done by others; and (5) the identification of different dimensions of transformative practice. The talk is followed by discussion.
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Monday and Wednesday Talks
2020-05-27 From the Ordinary Habitual Mind to the Buddha-Mind 19: Transforming Reactivity 3 65:50
After a review of our last two sessions exploring the nature of dukkha as reactivity and how to practice to transform reactivity, in the context of the Buddha's teachings of Dependent Origination and the Two Arrows, we explore a third aspect of practice. Some of our experiences of reactivity, particularly those in which there are repetitive and habitual patterns, sometimes open up to reveal old and relatively unconscious material, part of our "ignorance," giving us the chance to access and transform such material. This can occur, for example, when there is trauma, or when there are limiting beliefs originating from childhood (or sometimes later) related to psychological and/or social conditioning. A general model is given of four steps in the transformation of such material.
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Monday and Wednesday Talks
2020-05-22 Wise Speech Daylong: Talk 2 and Exercise 2 (Dyads): Developing mindfulness and presence in speech practice 23:04
Spirit Rock Meditation Center
2020-05-22 Wise Speech Daylong: Talk 1: On the importance of speech practice and foundational ethical guidelines for speech 20:30
Spirit Rock Meditation Center
2020-05-13 From the Ordinary Mind to the Buddha Mind 18: Transforming Reactivity 2 69:47
We first review the main themes from last time: (1) the nature of reactivity, and dukkha as reactivity in the Buddha's teachings, (2) the nature of awakening and freedom as liberation from reactivity, and (3) four main ways to practice with reactivity. We then look more deeply, noticing that very commonly reactivity is mixed with insight, discernment, intelligence, or something important or valuable, as when I become reactive when someone doesn't keep an agreement, or at social injustice. We explore how to transform reactivity by separating out what is valuable from the reactivity, in a number of ways, so that we can keep the insight or intelligence, and use it as the basis for wise, compassionate action. We close the talk with Eve Decker singing, "Simple Truth," about skillful ways to work with reactive self-judgment, and then have a period of discussion, including questions.
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Monday and Wednesday Talks
2020-05-06 From the Ordinary Mind to the Buddha Mind 17: Transforming Reactivity 1 68:42
We begin with some remembering of our current context of crisis, and the possibility of having major learning and transformation come out of this time—personally, relationally, and collectively—rather than simply going back to the old “normal.” Then we continue to explore the different dimensions of awakening from our habits and conditioning, here looking at what may be the most central dimension—transforming dukkha (or “reactivity”—compulsively grasping after the pleasant, pushing away the unpleasant); the Buddha said once, “I teach dukkha and the end of dukkha.” We examine: (1) the nature of dukkha or reactivity, grounding in the core teachings of Dependent Origination and the Two Arrows; (2) the nature of non-reactivity, or freedom or liberation or responsiveness; and (3) how to practice to transform reactivity, identifying six ways of practicing, and focusing here on the first four.
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Monday and Wednesday Talks
2020-04-08 Practicing with the Pandemic 2: Cultivating Compassion and Equanimity 65:20
After a brief review of some of the suggested ways to practice with the pandemic given last week, we explore two key capacities for our times: Compassion and equanimity. We look into the key aspects of compassion and equanimity and also how to cultivate them. For each of the two qualities, we also have songs inspired by and inspiring the qualities, from Eve Decker. A period of discussion, including questions and responses, concludes the session.
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Monday and Wednesday Talks
2020-04-01 Practicing during the Pandemic: Perspectives, Practices, and Suggestions 2 21:26
Questions and responses, as well as suggestions and shared insights from the group.
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Monday and Wednesday Talks
2020-04-01 Practicing during the Pandemic: Perspectives, Practices, and Suggestions 1 30:39
A talk giving a number of ways to approach this time of "sheltering-in-place" in terms of perspectives, intentions, core practices, and skillful actions, seeing the crisis as a great opportunity as well as a challenge.
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Monday and Wednesday Talks

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