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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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2021-09-01 Awakening 67:45
After a number of sessions focused on practicing with reactivity and with challenges, we focus on awakening and awakened qualities. We survey the Buddha's main understanding of awakening as the ending of greed, aversion, and ignorance, as well as his pointing to a "signless, boundless, luminous" awareness at times. We also explore some of the understandings of a similar "awakened awareness" found in the Thai Forest tradition and the Tibetan Dzogchen and Mahamudra traditions (in part through slides, which can be found below, at this Dharma Seed site). Finally, the suggestion is made to set the intention especially this next week to cultivate one or two awakened qualities.
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Monday and Wednesday Talks
Attached Files:
  • Awakening Slides by Donald Rothberg (PDF)
2021-09-01 Guided Meditation: Settling, Tracking Reactivity and Awakened Qualities 36:10
We start with the intention to cultivate awakened qualities, then have a period of settling, followed by opening up experience and particularly noticing any reactivity (habitual grasping and pushing away) and awakened qualities, such as mindfulness, concentration, equanimity, joy, etc.
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Monday and Wednesday Talks
2021-08-25 (Lightly) Guided Meditation: Practicing with Pleasant and Unpleasant Experiences and Tendencies toward Reactivity. 38:13
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Monday and Wednesday Talks
2021-08-25 Practicing with Challenges: Individual, Relational, and Collective 69:17
We name some of the personal, relational, and collective challenges of our current times, and point to a number of guidelines and support that help us to skillfully take such challenges as part of our practice of awakening. Discussion follows the talk.
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Monday and Wednesday Talks
2021-08-04 Deepening Daily Life Practice 4: Practicing with the Eight Worldly Winds 2 69:42
We begin by naming some of the important supports for daily life practice and by exploring further the importance of practicing with reactivity (compulsively and habitually grasping after or pushing away). It's helpful to focus on the center of practice: Transforming reactivity and learning better how to respond skillfully in all parts of our lives. It's also important to name some of the complexities of practicing with reactivity: (1) Seeing that the pleasant and unpleasant aren't the problem, that reactivity is the problem; (2) understanding that this isn't about passivity but rather about skillful response; and (3) clarifying that reactivity can often be enmeshed with important insight, clarity, and intelligence, such that the aim of practice is to separate out the reactivity from the insight. In this context, we then look further at the Eight Worldly Winds (pleasure or pain, gain or loss, fame or disrepute, and praise or blame) and point to a number of guidelines and suggestions for practicing when they arise.
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Monday and Wednesday Talks
2021-08-04 Guided Meditation: Practicing with the Eight Worldly Winds 2 37:38
After some general instructions for settling and seeing clearly and a period of practice, there is guidance for practicing with the Eight Worldly Winds (pleasure or pain, gain or loss, fame or disrepute, and praise or blame). We focus first on being attentive to moderate or greater levels of pleasant or unpleasant experiences (when the experiences are in the "workable" range). Then we bring in attention to the other Winds, when they arise.
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Monday and Wednesday Talks
2021-07-28 Deepening Daily Life Practice 3: Practicing with the Eight Worldly Winds 68:43
We begin with a review of the last two sessions related to deepening daily life practice, including identifying some of the challenges of contemporary daily life practice and some basic ways of deepening such practice, the importance for such practice of mindfulness of the body, and the centrality of practicing with reactivity (based on looking closely at the sequence from contact to grasping or pushing away). We then, for the rest of the session, explore the teaching of the Eight Worldly Winds (pleasure or pain, gain or loss, fame or disrepute, and praise or blame) as a way of looking out for eight specific experiences that are likely to lead to reactivity. In all of this, we focus on how we might learn from and respond skillfully to such challenging situations rather than simply react in a largely unconscious and habitual way. The talk is followed by a discussion.
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Monday and Wednesday Talks
2021-07-28 Deepening Daily Life Practice 3: A Guided Meditation: Settling, Practicing with Pleasant and Unpleasant and Tendencies to Reactivity, Practicing with the Eight Worldly Winds 37:48
In this guided meditation, we start with about 10 minutes of settling. We then attend to when there is a moderate or greater pleasant or unpleasant feeling-tone, bringing some investigation as to what occurs in ones' experience, including tendencies to reactivity (grasping or pushing away). Toward the end of the guided meditation, there's an invitation to track for those forms of reactivity coming after one of the Eight Worldly Winds (pleasure or pain, gain or loss, fame or disrepute, and praise or blame).
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Monday and Wednesday Talks
2021-07-07 Deepening Daily Life Practice 2: Practicing with Reactivity 69:27
We begin with a review of last week's opening exploration of deepening daily life practice, naming some of the challenges of daily life practice, some initial ways of deepening such practice, and the centrality for such practice of mindfulness of the body. We then, for the rest of the session, explore how we can practice with reactivity when it arises, in its two forms--grasping after the pleasant and pushing away what is taken as unpleasant. We ground such practice in the Buddha's teaching in the model of Dependent Origination of the sequence from contact to feeling-tone to wanting (or not wanting) to grasping (or pushing away). We then point to a number of ways of practicing with reactivity and some of the complexities of such practice, particularly the ways in which reactivity can be enmeshed with discernment. A discussion follows!
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Monday and Wednesday Talks
2021-07-07 Deepening Daily Life Practice 2: A Guided Meditation: Practicing with Reactivity 26:04
In this guided meditation, we start with about 10 minutes of settling. We then attend to when there is a moderate or greater pleasant or unpleasant feeling-tone, bringing some investigation as to what occurs in ones' experience. Toward the end of the guided meditation, there's an invitation to track for any moment of reactivity (grasping onto the pleasant in some way, or pushing away the unpleasant).
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Monday and Wednesday Talks

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