Aging: Inconvenient Truth or Spiritual Gateway
Daylong Retreat, Boulder, October 28th, 2017MP3
Since aging is as unstoppable as the tides, the only sensible option is to improve our attitude about it. We can learn to do so by realizing aging is part of the same flow that miraculously birthed us and miraculously maintains us in every beat of our heart. Buddhism converts the poison of aging into medicine, using it to catalyze a sense of spiritual urgency and helping us to let go again and again. And when we let go, we are truly happy.
Principles for Spiritually-Based Activism
Daylong Retreat, Boulder, August 27th, 2016MP3
Effective action is based on clear seeing and clear seeing is based on acceptance. In other words, acceptance underlies wise action, be it getting the kids to school or protesting injustice. Describes 10 principles of spiritually-based action, including: Effective action tends to the relationships involved, universal love is the most secure foundation for lasting change towards social justice, people are not their actions, and views are best held lightly because they are always biased.
Longing and Resistance on the Spiritual Path
Daylong Retreat, Boulder, October 10th, 2015MP3
We both really want and really do not want to wake up. We long for peace, fulfillment, and belonging, and yet we actively resist the meditative path that takes us there. Meditation is boring, unproductive, or scary, says the resistance, and progress is too slow. Yet overcoming resistance is not such a big deal. It is as simple as becoming aware of the present moment. Meditation makes this simple move a stronger habit and it is the gateway to deep freedom and realizing our heart’s longing.
I Do: The Holy Matrimony of Love and Wisdom
Love and Wisdom retreat, Vallecitos Mountain Ranch, Sept 20, 2015MP3
Love and wisdom are two essential aspects of the spiritual path. When wisdom empties the heart of a separate self, love fills it up with care for the entire world. Without wisdom, love is attached and limited. Without love, wisdom can be cold or lacking passion. When the two qualities come together, we feel the truth of the Tibetan metaphor, “the jewel is in the lotus,” as everything feels to be in its rightful place.
Love and Wisdom retreat, Vallecitos Mountain Ranch, Sept. 12, 2014MP3
Our ability to love is not pre-given, but, rather, depends greatly on our habits of mind. Metta, or lovingkindness, is a practice in which we remember the shared bond we have with all sentient beings – a drive for well-being – and we send out loving wishes to them. With practice, we lessen the habit of focusing on our superficial differences with people and the mind naturally inclines towards more friendliness and love.
Joy in the Practice, Joy in Life
Going to the Woods retreat, Vallecitos Mountain Ranch, June 4, 2014MP3
Buddhism, in contrast to its stereotype of being overly focused on suffering, is, in its truest sense, a discipline for realizing abiding joy. This talk focuses on ways to overcome the negativity bias of the brain by practicing sympathetic joy, gratitude, playfulness, and a sense of humor. The talk also focuses on how to take meditation practice off the cushion and into daily life.
Working Wisely with Difficult Emotions
Daylong Retreat, Boulder, February 8th, 2014MP3
Mindfulness of difficult states is one of the fastest ways to taste the transformative power of meditation. Mindfulness allows us to stay open during emotional storms, allowing them fully without being swept away by them. We are enriched in the process, becoming more strong, wise, compassionate and authentic. When we see that our minds are workable, all of life feels workable. Includes slogans and the RAIN approach to working with emotions.
How to See a Rainbow
Daylong Retreat, Boulder, February 23rd, 2013MP3
To see a rainbow, you must stand exactly between the sun and the rain. Similarly, when we stand evenly balanced between the pleasant and the unpleasant, we taste equanimity, a state as sublime as a rainbow. Meditation increases our equanimity by replacing reactivity with curiosity and awareness. In the process, we become more at ease in the midst of the very chaos of our lives.
Making Peace with Pleasure and Pain
Daylong Retreat, Boulder, January 12th, 2013MP3
The chief difficulty of life is the fluctuation among pleasant, unpleasant, and neutral experiences. We hate the unpleasant, cling to the pleasant, and completely ignore the neutral. These reactions are an argument with reality and cause a subtle, yet pervasive, restlessness in our hearts. Meditation shows us a radical alternative – by being mindful we can learn to be at ease no matter what kind of experience we are having. This is the essence of spiritual freedom.
The Mind as River
Weekend Retreat, Canon City Sangha, September 2012 MP3
When we are not identified with our thoughts and emotions, we realize that the things we take so personally are really just impermanent and conditioned phenomena that arise and disappear all by themselves. Insight into this profound truth is deeply freeing, and is where we really begin to see the payoff of dharma practice. When we are unconscious of change it is an enemy; when we are conscious of change it becomes a strong spiritual ally.
Blessings Seen and Unseen
Daylong retreat, Boulder, July 7, 2012MP3
Saying “thank you” is not just good manners, but a deep spiritual path. Gratitude practice helps us realize that the universe is supporting us much more than we let ourselves believe. Heaven is right here and now, if we only took the time to notice. Even painful experiences are beneficial as they make us dig deep and access strength and wisdom we didn’t know we had. Includes a guided gratitude meditation.
The Body as River
Weekend Retreat, Canon City Sangha, September 2012MP3
This talk illuminates some of the insights that come when we focus on impermanence in the body. The body has a mind of its own – sensations come and go all by themselves, and so many bodily processes happen automatically with no conscious effort. The more we realize the body is an uncontrollable, wild, river, the more we let go, and the happier we get.
So Spiritual an Animal
Going to the Woods week-long retreat, Vallecitos Mountain Ranch, May 28, 2011AAC
We take ourselves so personally, yet so much of us is a product of natural evolution, from our two-legged gait to our opposable thumbs to the negativity bias of the human brain. The more we awaken, the less personally take ourselves, and the more we realize both our spiritual and animal natures. Wisdom shows us who we really are is nature itself.