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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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2020-11-30 Exploring the Buddha's Core Teaching: "I teach Dukkha and the End of Dukkha" 64:48
The Buddha famously said, “I have dukkha and the end of dukkha.” Yet it can be confusing to know what the Buddha might have meant. One reason for the confusion is that there are multiple accounts of dukkha in the discourses; we explore four of them, finding that, for the first three, it doesn't make sense to speak of the "the end of dukkha." Only for the fourth sense of dukkha, which we find both in the teaching of the Two Arrows (or Darts) and in the teaching of Dependent Origination does "the end of dukkha" make sense. On this basis, we then explore the nature of dukkha, interpreted especially as reactivity, which we find in two forms--grasping and pushing away. We lastly explore eight core ways of practicing with dukkha.
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Monday and Wednesday Talks
2020-11-11 Practicing with Views 1:10:56
Practicing with one's views or opinions or beliefs is central both to traditional Buddhist practice and to what is needed in a society polarized by views; it is also central to relationships and skillful communication, especially in difficult or conflictual situations. We establish in this session a foundation for such practice, by identifying both the core teachings on views by the Buddha and three basic ways of practicing with views. We explore the core teachings on views especially by looking at five key passages from the Buddha's discourses, getting a sense of how attachment to views can be problematic. We also identify three ways of practicing with views: (1) becoming mindful of one's views, (2) inquiring into one's views when one notices an opposition with the views of others, and (3) listening and developing empathy in relationship to the views of others. After the talk, we discuss together many questions and points related to these teachings and practices.
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Monday and Wednesday Talks
2020-11-04 Practicing after Election Day 1:10:00
The morning after Election Day in the U.S., with the result in the Presidential election still uncertain, we explore a number of ways of practicing--in both a more inner and a more outer way. Participants, who include several from outside the U.S., share some of what they are experiencing, and we explore several ways of working with challenging emotions, thoughts, and body-states. We emphasize the importance of compassion for self and others, empathy--including across lines of difference, working with one's own views, participation in a community, and connection with traditions and approaches--such as that of the bodhisattva--that give one resources for the "long haul." Eve Decker brings in a vital further resource--song--three times during the session, with "Sending You Light," "We Who Believe in Freedom," and the dedication of merit from the Chinese Pure Land tradition.
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Monday and Wednesday Talks
2020-10-11 Awakening in a Time of Crisis 65:21
What does our practice look like at a time of multiple crises? We explore the great contemporary need for many of us to deepen in our path of awakening, and deepen in or sustain our ways of responding to the needs of our world. We look at the nature of awakening, both in its traditional and contemporary forms, and ask: How might I bring my practice of awakening up a notch or two? We look at how we can integrate this awakening process with our responsive action, pointing to what we might call a contemporary curriculum for those integrating inner and outer transformation. Following the talk, we have a discussion covering many aspects of our theme of awakening in a time of crisis.
Marin Sangha
2020-10-08 Cultivating Equanimity 41:15
We examine both the nature of equanimity and how to develop more equanimity, both in formal meditation and in the flow of our lives, including in the context of multiple contemporary crises. Equanimity has qualities of balance, evenness, unshakability, understanding and wisdom, faith, joy, and responsiveness. It can be cultivated in our basic mindfulness practice, as we develop more balance, particularly by learning from tends to unbalance us, including difficult emotions, thoughts, and body-states. We can also particularly focus on the teaching of the "Eight Worldly Winds" (or Conditions): pleasure and pain, gain and loss, fame and disrepute, praise and blame.
Insight Meditation Tucson
2020-10-07 Deepening Our Practice in the Pandemic 9--Wise Speech 6--Practicing with Difficult Speech Situations 4 49:00
We focus, in the context of difficult or challenging communication, on the integration of individual, inner practice and skillful speaking. After a review of eight general guidelines for skillful speech and how we do inner practice related to, but separate from, such challenging communication, we look at ways to bring inner practice in speaking and relating. We also focus on several more "outer" skillful ways of speaking to bring about mutual understanding, including using relatively neutral observations free of interpretations, and cultivating the practice of empathy. We then look at how to integrate more inner and more outer dimensions of practice in the context of several challenging situations.
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Monday and Wednesday Talks
2020-10-02 Practicing with Fear (with Syra Smith) 55:17
We explore the nature of fear and how to practice with fear. Syra speaks first; Donald speaks second, starting at 17:00. Discussion, including questions, starts at 34:43.
East Bay Meditation Center
2020-09-30 Deepening Our Practice in the Pandemic 8: The Foundations of Wise Speech 5: Becoming More Skillful with Difficult Speech Situations 3 1:11:01
We review eight important capacities that help us to be skillful in difficult and challenging situations involving speech and communication. We then continue to explore how we might combine more "inner" and more "outer" responses, here focusing especially on "inner work" with difficult emotions (we look at working with anger and fear), thoughts and narratives (we look particularly at those connected with the judgmental mind), and body states. A discussion follows the talk.
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Monday and Wednesday Talks
2020-09-23 Deepening Our Practice in the Pandemic 7: The Foundations of Wise Speech 4: Becoming More Skillful with Difficult Speech Situations 2 1:10:06
After a brief review of the foundations of wise speech and the eight guidelines for skillful speech when there are difficult or challenging situations, we explore the connection of inner practices with such situations. We look at two dimensions of such practice: (1) looking at and transforming conditioning that makes it hard to engage in such situations, such as related to negative views about conflict and anger, and discerning when there is spiritual bypassing in relationship to difficulties; and (2) bringing mindfulness, inquiry, and investigation to difficult emotions such as anger, fear, sadness, etc.,and to thoughts and narratives (especially generated by the judgmental mind). We will continue this exploration, including of difficult body states, next time..
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Monday and Wednesday Talks
2020-09-17 Buddhist Practice and Nonviolent Action: Transforming Inner and Outer Reactivity, Cultivating Love in Action 45:21
We explore the deep resonance between Buddhist practice and nonviolent action (in the tradition of Mohandas Gandhi, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Dorothy Day, Cesar Chavez, and others). We first examine the core of Buddhist practice as expressed in the Buddha's statement: "I teach dukkha and the end of dukkha; we explicate dukkha as "reactivity." We then show how the nonviolence of Dr. King follows the same core understanding of developing non-reactive and nonviolent responses--for him especially to the institutionalized reactivity of greed and hatred. We identify six basic themes of such nonviolent action, which, in the words of John Lewis, is ultimately "love in action."
Insight Meditation Tucson

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