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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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2019-03-29 Bringing the Retreat Home: "Let Your Life and Practice Be One” (Retreat at Spirit Rock) 66:09
As we are poised to return from one or two months of practice, we consider a number of supports for continuing our practice in all the parts of our life, whether more individual, more relational, or more collective, including the archetype of the Bodhisattva, which can inspire us to connect inner and outer practice.
Spirit Rock Meditation Center March Insight Meditation 1-Month
2019-03-18 Practicing to Investigate Anatta (Not-Self) (Retreat at Spirit Rock) 60:24
After a brief overview of the “three ways of seeing that liberate” (into anicca, dukkha, and anatta, or impermanence, reactivity or suffering, and not-self), and how to practice investigating anicca and dukkha, we explore a practical way to understand and investigate anatta or not-self. We focus on two ways of investigation: (1) noticing when the sense of self is “thick,” and studying it; and (2) learning in a number of ways to be with the flow of experience with less or little or no sense of self, as we “thin” the self.
Spirit Rock Meditation Center March Insight Meditation 1-Month
2019-03-12 Developing Samadhi (Concentration) (Retreat at Spirit Rock) 63:31
We explore how to develop samadhi or concentration in samatha practice, through examining: (1) the nature of samadhi and samatha practice, (2) their place and importance in our practice, (3) some ways to practice to develop samadhi or concentration, (4) some of the challenges of samatha practice and how to work with them, and (5) how samadhi or concentration supports insight practice.
Spirit Rock Meditation Center March Insight Meditation 1-Month
2019-03-07 The Second Foundation of Mindfulness: Practicing with Feeling-Tone (Vedana—Pleasant, Unpleasant, and Neutral) (Retreat at Spirit Rock) 59:59
After some further examination of the nature of mindfulness, we explore the Second Foundation of Mindfulness, first pointing to the central importance of the practice of being mindful of the “feeling-tone.” As articulated in the teaching on Dependent Origination, we study the sequence, that occurs when there are not mindfulness and wisdom, of (1) contact; (2) feeling-tone; (3) wanting the pleasant (or aversion to the unpleasant, and unawareness of the neutral), and (4) grasping the pleasant (or pushing away the unpleasant, or continued unawareness of the neutral). We look at the experiential nature of the pleasant, unpleasant, and neutral, and suggest a number of ways to practice with feeling-tone.
Spirit Rock Meditation Center March Insight Meditation 1-Month
2019-03-06 From the Habitual Ordinary Mind to the Buddha-Mind 1: Ten Aspects of the Habitual Mind and How to Practice with Them 62:15
After a brief review of the last two weeks' theme of the seven stages of the spiritual journey, we focus on how practice develops through transforming ten aspects of the "habitual ordinary mind," including our ways of thinking, how we relate to the body and heart, our senses of self, time, and "external" world, and so on.
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Monday and Wednesday Talks
2019-03-05 Brahma Vihara: Metta (Lovingkindness) 1 (Retreat at Spirit Rock) 51:49
An overview of metta practice and two methods of practicing metta (through phrases and through “radiating metta”), followed by a guided practice period and a few Q&A.
Spirit Rock Meditation Center March Insight Meditation 1-Month
2019-03-02 An Overview of Our Foundational Practices for Our Retreat Journey (Retreat at Spirit Rock) 47:25
On the first evening of a four-week retreat for some, and the beginning of the fifth of eight weeks for others, we explore the “map” of our foundational practices: (1) developing wise or right view and intention; (2) samatha practice, developing concentration (or samadhi); (3) insight practice, with mindfulness as a core practice; (4) the heart practices, particularly lovingkindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity; (5) grounding in the body; and (6) touching freedom and awakening.
Spirit Rock Meditation Center March Insight Meditation 1-Month
2019-02-27 Practices for the Seven Stages of the Spiritual Journey 1:19:05
After a review of the seven stages of the spiritual journey presented the week before (originally with reference to Mary Oliver’s “The Journey,” the life of the Buddha, and our own journeys), we explore how for each stage, there are particular practices and intentions that are central. As we explore the practices, we get a better sense of the variety of practices that we may work with at different points in our own journeys, and which are most appropriate at which times.
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Monday and Wednesday Talks
2019-02-20 Seven Stages of the Spiritual Journey 1:16:50
Partly in honor of the recently deceased poet, Mary Oliver, we use her poem, "the Journey", as a reference point for understanding the nature of the spiritual journey. Two other reference points are the life of the Buddha, and then the experiences of our own lives. After an exploration of the very nature of the journey, and how a journey may take years, or two weeks, or an hour, we explore seven stages of the spiritual journey, starting with taking life for granted, being caught up in habitual and conditioned mind and behavior, and ending with some degree of awakening and then re-entering the "ordinary" world, often bringing gifts from the journey. In between is the heart of the journey. [The talk ends at 1.06.23.]
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Monday and Wednesday Talks
2019-01-30 Dharma Practice and the Life and Work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Part 3 65:47
We first review the three themes identified as the "shared heart" of Buddhist practice and the life and work of Dr. King: (1) non-reactivity (the end of dukkha) and nonviolence; (2) love, metta, and compassion; and (3) the integrity and coherence of one's life, such that this "shared heart" appears increasingly in all parts of one's life. Then we imagine a kind of dialogue between Western Buddhists and Dr. King, identifying both the great jewels and some of the blind spots or underdeveloped areas of each. This points toward the aspiration to bring together the best of both approaches, to bring together deep inner and outer transformative practice; we make use of a number of resources, including the figure of the bodhisattva, in clarifying this aspiration.
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Monday and Wednesday Talks

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