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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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2021-03-31 Doing and Not-Doing in Meditation and Daily Life 3 68:17
We start with a brief review of what we’ve explored in the last two sessions on this theme, including the importance of both doing and not-doing in Buddhist practice and the nature of identification with the “doer” (and the related themes of self, time, and the future). We then go into more depth inquiring into the nature of the “doer,” including a brief guided meditation looking into the experience of “doing” and opening to not-doing in meditation. We lastly further investigate traditions (Jewish, Christian, Taoist, and Buddhist) that point to the importance of a doing coming out of not-doing, and ways that we can experience and explore this doing coming out of not-doing in daily life, including in the experiences of creativity in art and music, and being “in the zone” in sports.
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Monday and Wednesday Talks
2021-03-19 Continuing with Mudita Practice, Introducing Equanimity (Upekkha) Practice 62:42
First, we consider further some of the qualities of mudita, how joy is central to the teachings of the Buddha, how the cultivation of joy is crucial for being able to address difficulties and painful situations, how joy can be understood as a deep expression of our fundamental nature, and how joy can be present even in the midst of difficulties. Then we explore the nature of equanimity, pointing to several of the qualities of equanimity, including balance, evenness, unshakability, undetstanding and wisdom, warmth, and responsiveness. We also examine some of the typical distortions of equanimity and importance of the interconnection of the four brahmavihara as one to avoid such distractions.
InsightLA :  Cultivating the Wise Heart on the Cushion and in the World: Practicing Mindfulness and the “Divine Abodes” (Lovingkindness, Compassion, Joy, Equanimity)
2021-03-17 Some Further Pointers in Cultivating Metta, and An Introduction to Compassion and Compassion Practice 60:11
We first explore some further suggestions in the practice of metta, particularly related to working with distraction and an active mind, and then related to practicing when difficult states of mind, body, and emotion come up. We then begin to clarify the nature of compassion as the expression of the awakened heart in the presence of pain and difficulty. We link compassion to the understanding of the nature of how the conditioned mind reacts to what is painful, referring to the sequence from contact to grasping in the teaching on Dependent Origination, and the explication of the teaching of Dukkha (or "reactivity") and the end of Dukkha. We then explore further the receptive and active dimensions of compassion, some difficult distortions of compassion, and ways that compassion manifests toward self and others.
InsightLA :  Cultivating the Wise Heart on the Cushion and in the World: Practicing Mindfulness and the “Divine Abodes” (Lovingkindness, Compassion, Joy, Equanimity)
2021-03-15 Introduction to the Brahmavihara and to Metta Practice 54:53
We first explore the nature of the four, interconnected brahmavihara as expressions of the "awakened heart." We then orient ourselves to the beginning of formal practice of the brahmavihara by clarifying the nature of metta (or "lovingkindness") practice.
InsightLA :  Cultivating the Wise Heart on the Cushion and in the World: Practicing Mindfulness and the “Divine Abodes” (Lovingkindness, Compassion, Joy, Equanimity)
2021-03-10 Doing and Not-Doing in Meditation and Daily Life 2 69:08
We briefly review the main themes from last week, including the importance of "doing" and effort in the teachings and practices of the Buddha, the importance also of "not-doing" (through letting go and cultivating receptive mindfulness), and elements of our conditioning to be a "doer." We go in more detail into this conditioning, pointing to ways of practicing and inquiring. Then, finally, we explore how there is an advanced way of being in which doing comes, so to speak, out of non-doing; we look at this in terms of the teachings of Lao-Tzu, Chuang-Tzu, and Dzogchen. We close with a kind of developmental model of the stages of inquiry into the doer.
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Monday and Wednesday Talks
2021-03-07 Cultivating Equanimity 64:30
Edited. We explore the nature of equanimity and how to cultivate, with Donald particularly inspired by the qualities of equanimity he found in his father Simon, with the day of the talk the 100th anniversary of Simon's birth! We look at the Pali terms for equanimity and the general qualities of equanimity: Evenness, balance, unshakability, wisdom, connection with the awakened heart, and responsiveness, linking these qualities with particular ways that we can develop equanimity. Following the talk, there is a sustained discussion of various themes and questions.
Benicia Insight Meditation
2021-03-03 Doing and Not-Doing in Meditation and in Daily Life 1 1:10:10
We explore the nature of doing and not-doing, first in dharma practice generally. The Buddha’s teachings seem full of exhortations to diligence, mindfulness, and skillful effort and doing. Yet there also is a clear place for not-doing—for example, in letting go and in cultivating mindful receptivity to experience. We can also see how being a “doer” is so central to many of our identities, whether in our roles or work or even our meditation. Given these dimensions of doing and not-doing, we suggest a number of ways to inquire into and respond to our patterns and habits related to doing and not-doing, both in meditation and daily life.
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Monday and Wednesday Talks
2021-01-20 Practicing with Intentions 2: Developing Intentions and Vows to Guide Practice in One's Communities, Society, and World 65:32
After a review of the January 6 session on practicing with intentions in individual formal and daily life practice, and on Inauguration Day, we explore practicing in more community, social, and collective settings. In this context, we point to the importance of combining i"inner" and "outer" practice, and to two possible inspirations: (1)the figure of the bodhisattva who combines awakening and helping others, and (2) the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a kind of bodhisattva. On this basis, there is a short period in which those present are asked to write their own intentions and/or vows to guide their responses to the current needs and crises of our world. Some share their writing!
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Monday and Wednesday Talks
Attached Files:
  • Practicing with Intentions 2 by Donald Rothberg (PDF)
2021-01-10 Our Training in Cultivating Metta: An Overview 55:07
Practicing metta is an ancient vocation in which we incline toward metta, toward a warm, expansive friendliness, each moment. In doing so, we also come to see what gets in the way of metta. A metta retreat offers us a focused period of training, helping us then to bring our metta more into our formal practice, our daily lives, and a world deeply in need of metta. Yet there are challenges in metta practice. We also identify a number of these challenges, and how responses to the challenges point to some of the fundamental ways that training in metta transforms us.
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Metta Retreat
2021-01-06 Practicing with Intentions 1: Individual Formal and Daily Life Practice 1:11:08
At this time of transition, for the earth in the Northern Hemisphere, for many of us in the New Year, and for the U.S., in which clarity of intentions is so important, we explore two types of intentions: (1) aspiration or being guided by one's deeper values and intentions, sometimes taking the form of vows; and (2) moment-to-moment intentions. We are especially interested in connecting the two types of intentions. A focus on moment-to-moment intentions (cetana) helps us with wise action and practice moment-to-moment, seeing which intentions are skillful and which are not (including implicit or even unconscious tendencies linked with habitual energies). We look a number of ways of practicing with intentions both in our formal and our informal practice. We close with a short writing exercise bringing out our core intentions and next steps for the coming period, and then have a period of discussion and sharing.
Spirit Rock Meditation Center Monday and Wednesday Talks

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