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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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2018-09-18 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
2018-07-11 Ethical Practice 3: Transforming the Roots of Harming in Greed, Hatred, and Delusion 63:47
Spirit Rock Meditation Center
2018-07-04 Ethical Practice 2: Ten Ways of Deepening the Practice of Non-Harming 66:07
Spirit Rock Meditation Center
2018-06-27 Ethical Practice 1: Five Ways of Practicing Non-Harming 68:10
Spirit Rock Meditation Center
2018-06-06 Practicing Skillfully with Difficult Experiences of Body, Heart, and Mind, in the Context of Aging and Dying (Retreat at Spirit Rock) 51:55
After first naming some of the challenging bodily, emotional, and mental experiences that arise in a human life, and particularly in the context of aging and dying, we explore the different “tools” for responding skillfully to these challenges, including clarity of intention, assessing the intensity of the experience and coming back to balance after overwhelm, mindfulness, body practices, heart practices, and wisdom perspectives.
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Aging, Dying and Awakening

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