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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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2020-01-14 The Transformative Power of Metta Practice (Retreat at Spirit Rock) 56:21
Guided by a recent translation of a poem about metta practice by an early Buddhist nun, from The First Free Women, we contemplate the simple yet radical and profound spirit of metta practice. The author tells us: "I have followed this Path of friendship to its end. And I can say with absolute certainty—it will lead you home.” We look at how metta cuts through fear, how it deepens concentration, how we work with the challenges of metta practice, how we navigate the “purification process” linked with metta practice, and how we integrate the kind heart, mindfulness, wisdom, and skillful action.
Spirit Rock Meditation Center January Metta Retreat
2019-12-23 Practicing at the Winter Solstice & Holiday Time: Embracing the Dark, Inviting the Light 1:13:36
At an often frenetic time in our society, it can be important to find a time to stop and dis-engage from our busy-ness, for a few hours, a half-day, a day, or longer. This can help us in many ways, including knowing more deeply and intuitively what our next steps might be, in alignment with our integrity. This is crucial both individually and for those engaged in responding to the crises of our world. We explore five key ways to be with such a process—to embrace the darkness of this time, and to come to know how being with the darkness is generative and brings light.
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Monday and Wednesday Talks
2019-12-11 From the Ordinary Habitual Mind to the Buddha-Mind 11: Time 2 63:00
Following last week’s initial inquiry into our experience of time, and, for many, a week of practice related to time, we explore (1) further aspects of the nature of the ordinary conditioning related to the experience of time, bringing some of our own findings as well as material from philosophy, physics, and psychology; (2) some further material on how the Buddha and other awakened beings teach about time and the timeless; and (3) several main practices that help us to explore and transform our conditioning related to time, including developing mindfulness in the moment, opening to “flow” states, and exploring impermanence.
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Monday and Wednesday Talks
2019-12-11 Title: Guided Meditation Exploring Our Experience of Time 39:06
Guidance generally on mindfulness practice, followed by guidance on several ways to explore time, including being in the present moment, noticing patterns to time, and opening in different ways to the impermanence of experience.
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Monday and Wednesday Talks
2019-12-04 From the Ordinary Habitual Mind to the Buddha-Mind 10: Time 68:36
In this initial inquiry into our experience of time, we explore (1) the nature of the ordinary conditioning related to the experience of time, including how we relate to past, present, and future, how we take time to be objectively “real,” and how we learn as children to use the construction of time; (2) how the Buddha and other sages seem to experience and teach about time, including about the “timeless”; and (3) how to practice to explore and transform our conditioning related to time.
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Monday and Wednesday Talks
2019-11-27 Cultivating Generosity and Gratitude 63:40
A day before Thanksgiving, we explore the central importance of cultivating generosity (dāna) and gratitude (kataññutā), and their interrelationship. The Buddha teaches (AN 2.11): "These two people are hard to find in the world. Which two? The one who is first to do a kindness, and the one who is grateful and thankful for a kindness done.” We look at a number of ways to practice to cultivate generosity and gratitude, and some of the nuances and complexities of such practices, including the importance of gratitude as a practice in difficult circumstances. Ultimately, these two practices teach us to rest more and more with a sense of interdependence and what Thich Nhat Hanh calls “interbeing.”
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Monday and Wednesday Talks
2019-11-27 Cultivating Generosity and Gratitude 66:24
A day before Thanksgiving, we explore the central importance of cultivating generosity (dāna) and gratitude (kataññutā), and their interrelationship. The Buddha teaches (AN 2.11): "These two people are hard to find in the world. Which two? The one who is first to do a kindness, and the one who is grateful and thankful for a kindness done.” We look at a number of ways to practice to cultivate generosity and gratitude, and some of the nuances and complexities of such practices, including the importance of gratitude as a practice in difficult circumstances. Ultimately, these two practices teach us to rest more and more with a sense of interdependence and what Thich Nhat Hanh calls “interbeing.”
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Monday and Wednesday Talks
2019-10-09 Beginning Again--Listening for Our Deeper Aspirations 63:22
On the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur, when it is said that the veils of ignorance are lessened, we explore ways to “begin again,” both in the moment and more generally,--to re-align our lives, guided also by Buddhist resources and by poets, sages, and activists. Through guided reflections, we examine (1) ways in which we are “off the mark,” in which we need re-alignment; (2) what we wish to let go of and/or forgive; and (3) our deeper aspirations for the next period of time.
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Monday and Wednesday Talks
2019-09-18 Practicing with Conflict 4 1:12:15
In our fourth exploration of how to practice with conflict, we examine four practice resources, inviting listeners to keep in mind, as we explore the resources, a conflict (whether an inner conflict, an interpersonal conflict, or a larger social conflict); conflict is understood as a difference of, or tension between, positions or values or needs. The first resource is that of the tools of our inner practice: mindfulness practice, heart practices such as compassion, lovingkindness, and forgiveness, and ways to work with difficult emotions and thoughts such as anger, fear, sadness, frustration, the judgmental mind, etc. The second resource is that of the "win-win" or "both-and" model of conflict transformation, in which the aim is to move from an "either-or" or "win-lose" framework toward the "win-win" way of meeting the underlying values or needs of both sides; at times, we may need to move away from the "win-lose" framework through "avoidance" (time outs, cease-fires, etc.) or compromise, on the way, if possible, to "win-win." The third resource is that of empathy, taken as a practice central to working with conflicts of any kind. The fourth resource is that of working with attachments to fixed views that typically arise in conflict situations of any kind, especially through through mindfulness, inquiry, empathy, and heart practices.
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Monday and Wednesday Talks
2019-09-11 Practicing with Conflict 3 64:20
We review what we’ve explored so far about practicing with conflict, including our conditioning and stereotypes about conflict (typically with views of conflict as negative), ways to bring our meditation practice into working with the “inner” states (emotions, thoughts, bodily states) that arise with conflict, and the “both-and” or “win-win” perspective on approaching conflict. We then bring in a further important resource—empathic understanding of another—outlining a simple way to “practice” empathy. We then work with an exercise bringing empathy to someone with whom one is in conflict. Then we discuss all of this.
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Monday and Wednesday Talks

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