September 19-21 (Friday to Sunday), Santa Cruz, California: Transforming the Judgmental Mind, Cultivating the Wise Heart: A Weekend Non-Residential Retreat. Friday, 7 to 9 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Judgments of a reactive and often automatic nature are very strong in most of our lives, and in the dominant culture. They can distort our perceptions, make relationships with others difficult, and undermine our work in the world. In this weekend retreat, we will explore the nature of such judgments (and their difference from non-reactive discernment) and how to transform them. We will cultivate mindfulness, inquiry, and heart practices such as lovingkindness, forgiveness, and compassion. We will also explore the somatic and social dimensions of judgments and the role of cultivating awakened qualities in transforming judgments. These tools will help us to preserve the intelligence and energy often found in judgments, using them for discernment and compassionate action, while working through judgments' destructive and compulsive aspects. This retreat will include sitting and walking meditation, including instructions for several guided practices, talks and group discussion, and some basic movement practices, all in the context of a small, supportive community. Insight Santa Cruz, 1010 Fair Avenue, further info at http://www.insightsantacruz.org/. Those attending the retreat are requested to attend the entire weekend of the retreat, although attending only Friday evening is possible.
September 28 (Sunday), Petaluma, California: Interfaith Reflections on Gandhi’s Teaching and Practice of Nonviolence: 5:30 p.m. (panelist): In this special interfaith dialogue, religious leaders from Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, Christian, and Muslim communities will reflect on Gandhi’s teachings and practice of nonviolence in the light of their traditions. An open discussion will follow, and a reception concludes the event. Saint John’s Episcopal Church, 40 Fifth Street, Petaluma. This is part of a week devoted to Gandhi life and work; see : http://mettacenter.org/nonviolence-week-schedule/. (The Petaluma Progressive Festival precedes this event, going from 12 – 5 p.m. Walnut Park at Petaluma Blvd. South and D Streets: http://www.progressivefestival.org/.)
October 1 (Wednesday morning class), Spirit Rock. 9 to 11 a.m. (see class description at end).
October 4-5: Reno/Carson City, Nevada: Two daylongs. Dharma Zephyr Insight Meditation Community, http://www.dharmazephyr.org/. These retreat days are handicapped accessible and suitable for beginners.
October 4 (Saturday), 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Reno Buddhist Church, 820 Plumas Street, Reno (use Taylor St. entrance)
Optional potluck for all immediately after the daylong.
“The Burmese and Thai Roots of Western Insight Meditation”: What are the roots of our Western practice of insight meditation? Why do we practice in the ways that we practice? In this daylong, we'll explore the fascinating and sometimes surprising evolution of Insight Meditation—from the Buddha to 19th and 20th century Burma and Thailand—and then to its widespread practice in the West, both in Buddhist and secular forms. We’ll examine the influences of the lives, social contexts, teachings, and practices of key Burmese and Thai teachers, focusing on the teachings of Mahasi Sayadaw (our core practice of mindfulness is based on his techniques) and Ajahn Chah, in order to gain a clearer perspective about key issues related to the contemporary practice of Insight Meditation. The day will combine periods of sitting and walking meditation following the instructions of these two main teachers, with talks (with slides of images from 19th and 20th century Burma and Thailand, and from Donald’s time in Thailand) and discussion.
October 5 (Sunday), 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. O2 Yoga, 1557 Zerolene Place, Minden.
“The Anatomy of Ignorance”: In the Buddhist tradition, as well as in other traditions, East and West, the root cause of suffering is spiritual ignorance, our not knowing of the nature of things and of our human nature. Out of such ignorance come habitual tendencies to greed, hatred aversion, and delusion, which influence how we see the world and our behavior. The core intention of our practice of wisdom, meditation, and integrity is to break the cycles of repetitive habits and actions based on ignorance. In this daylong retreat, we will explore through talks, sitting and walking meditation, and discussion, how to understand, identify, and transform ignorance. We‘ll especially investigate three main inter-related forms of ignorance: (1) personal, psychologically-based ignorance; (2) ignorance driven by social conditioning; and (3) spiritual ignorance of impermanence, the roots of suffering and freedom, and our own nature. We will cultivate ways to practice with these forms of ignorance, grounded in compassion.
October 8 (Wednesday morning class), Spirit Rock. 9 to 11 a.m. (see class description at end).
October 11 (Saturday), Spirit Rock: The Buddha’s Path to Freedom: The Second Foundation of Mindfulness (Mindfulness of Feeling-Tone: Pleasant, Unpleasant, and Neutral), 9.30 to 5 p.m. daylong. The Buddha taught that there is a direct way for alleviating suffering and discovering peace, wisdom and happiness, and that is through cultivating the Four Foundations of Mindfulness or Satipatthana. In this course, two Spirit Rock teachers will explore this liberating teaching that forms the basis for Insight meditation practice.
During this daylong, the second in the series on the Four Foundations of Mindfulness, we will explore the bare nature of our experience and discover that every moment is colored by a feeling-tone of pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral. As we bring mindfulness to this truth, we begin to uncover the deeply conditioned instincts and reactivity of the mind -- grasping, aversion and delusion, and learn how to break free from the patterns that cause us so much suffering. The Buddha taught that insight into the feeling-tone of our experience was so important that he named mindfulness of feeling-tone as one of the Four Foundations of our mindfulness practice.
Prerequisite: Beginning meditation class or the equivalent.
October 18 (Saturday), Insight Meditation Center (Sati Center), Redwood City, 9 to 5 p.m. The Burmese and Thai Roots of Western Insight Meditation. What are the roots of our Western practice of insight meditation? Why do we practice in the ways that we practice? In this daylong, we'll explore the fascinating and sometimes surprising evolution of Insight Meditation—from the Buddha to 19th and 20th century Burma and Thailand—and then to its widespread practice in the West. Western Insight Meditation along with “secular” applications of mindfulness and lovingkindness, is now proliferating in many settings. We'll look at the influence of these different lineages and roots to gain a clearer perspective about key decision points and issues related to how we practice Insight Meditation today. We’ll examine the influences of the lives, social contexts, teachings, and practices of key Burmese teachers, such as Ledi Sayadaw and Mahasi Sayadaw, and Thai teachers, particularly teachers in the Forest Tradition such as Ajahn Mun, Ajahn Maha Boowa, Ajahn Chah (especially), and Ajahn Buddhadasa. In particular, we will look at how our core practice of mindfulness is based on Burmese teacher Mahasi Sayadaw's technique of noting, and at the rather different understanding of practice that we receive from the Thai Forest Tradition. The day will include talks (with images from 19th and 20th century Burma and Thailand, including practice places and teachers, and from Donald’s time in Thailand); periods of sitting and walking meditation; and discussion.
Support for center and teachers on a dana (generosity or donation) basis. Directions: (Redwood City is about 23 miles South of San Francisco.) From 101: Take Whipple exit in Redwood City. Go west. Turn left on El Camino Real (south). Turn right on Hopkins. Go 2 blocks. The center is at the corner of Birch and Hopkins. Please DO NOT turn left onto Birch from Hopkins. Birch is ONE WAY. For further info: www.insightmeditationcenter.org/.
October 20-21 (Monday and Tuesday), Spirit Rock: Awakening the Heart: Practicing the “Divine Abodes” (Lovingkindness, Compassion, Joy, Equanimity): A Two-Day Non-Residential Retreat, 9:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. both day (with Heather Sundberg). The “Divine Abodes” (brahmavihara) of lovingkindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity, are the places of the awakened heart. Practicing to cultivate these four abodes helps us to access these wonderful and transformative qualities of the open heart.
- Lovingkindness (or metta): We practice cultivating a warm, open heart towards ourselves and others, as a basic way of being in the world. It is also a path to wisdom.
- Compassion: The wise heart becomes compassion when it encounters pain or suffering.
- Joy: The friendly heart becomes joy when it encounters happiness or beauty.
- Equanimity: We develop a balanced heart that can increasingly hold all the joys and sorrows of life with care and wisdom.
In this non-residential retreat, we will learn the formal practices of lovingkindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity, and offer guidance for bringing these practices into daily life. All of these practices strengthen self-confidence, self-acceptance, generosity of spirit, and steadiness of mind and heart, revealing our fundamental kindness.
The retreat will be held in the context of silence, with periods of sitting meditation alternating with periods of walking meditation. Core instructions in the different practices will be offered, along with dharma talks, question and answer periods, and several short optional sessions of guided movement. Participants are asked to bring their lunches each day so that there can be two uninterrupted days of practice that include instructions in mindful eating.
Teachings and practices are appropriate for individuals and health care professionals. Continuing Education (CE) credit available. Young Adults (18-26) and Seniors (65+ with limited and fixed income) are invited to attend these daylongs at a rate of $35.
October 22 (Wednesday morning class), Spirit Rock. 9 to 11 a.m. (see class description at end)
October 25-November 1 (Saturday to Saturday), Spirit Rock: Lovingkindness Retreat (with Sylvia Boorstein and Larry Yang). Retreat is full.
November 2 (Sunday), Spirit Rock: The Buddha’s Path to Freedom: The Third Foundation of Mindfulness (Mindfulness of Thoughts and Emotions), 9.30 to 5 p.m. daylong. The Buddha taught that there is a direct way for alleviating suffering and discovering peace, wisdom and happiness—and that is through cultivating the Four Foundations of Mindfulness. The Buddha said, “No other thing do I know which brings so much suffering as an uncultivated and undeveloped mind. No other thing do I know which brings so much happiness as a cultivated and developed mind.” The Third Foundation of Mindfulness is particularly concerned with helping us to cultivate awareness of emotions and thoughts; the focus in the text is on mindfulness of citta, usually translated as “mind,” but including what we in English call “emotions” and “thoughts.” We train to become better able to be mindful both of difficult states such as fear, anger, sadness, strong aversion, wanting, self-centered thoughts, delusion, and the judgmental mind, and of states expressing more awakened qualities such as generosity, lovingkindness, wisdom, concentration, joy, equanimity and compassion. The Third Foundation is like the operating manual for the mind, revealing to us what we can achieve through exploring the mind in all its manifestations. We will study the text in which the Buddha describes the practice of mindfulness of the mind, and also give some attention to how to combine mindfulness with other ways of working meditatively both with responses to difficult states, and with cultivation of more awakened states, in formal meditation and in daily life.
November 8-14 (Saturday to Friday), Southern Dharma, Hot Springs, NC: Transforming the Judgmental Mind Retreat, 6-day retreat. Judgments of a reactive and often automatic nature are very strong in most of our lives, and in the dominant culture. They can distort our perceptions, make relationships with others difficult, and undermine our work in the world. In this retreat, we will explore the nature of such judgments (and their difference from non-reactive discernment) and how to transform them. We will cultivate mindfulness, inquiry, and heart practices such as lovingkindness, forgiveness, gratitude, joy, and compassion. We will also explore the somatic dimension of judgments, the role of cultivating awakened qualities in transforming judgments, and how to cultivate skill in speech and interaction in the midst of situations involving judgments, whether our own or those of others. These tools will help us to preserve the intelligence and energy often found in judgments, using them for discernment and compassionate action, while working through judgments' destructive and compulsive aspects. The retreat will be held mostly in silence (with the first day fully in silence), with some periods of discussion (small and large group) and some interactive exercises (particularly the last full day), along with group and individual interviews. Those attending the retreat will have the option of continuing with monthly follow-up sessions after the retreat. Info at http://www.southerndharma.org/.
November 14-16 (Friday to Sunday), Louisville Vipassana Community, Louisville, KY, Non-residential Weekend Retreat: “Wisdom and Heart Practices in Difficult Times.” Friday, November 14, 7:30 to 9 p.m.; Saturday, November 15, 9 to 5 p.m.; Sunday, 9 to 4 p.m. One of the great benefits of our practice is to become more responsive and skillful when there are difficulties, whether individual, interpersonal, or related to the wider world. Yet to be relatively centered in mindfulness, awareness, wisdom, the awakened heart, and skillful action when there are difficulties is also a great challenge. A well-known Tibetan saying goes, “When the sun shines and the belly is full, I look like a Dharma practitioner; but when faced with trouble my faults are exposed.”
In this weekend retreat, we’ll look at the importance of the different parts of our practice—developing clear intentions, living ethically (including using speech and communication skillfully), grounding in the body, and cultivating mindfulness, wisdom, and the awakened heart—for responding to difficult situations. There’ll be a particular focus on key wisdom principles and perspectives for being responsive with challenges and conflicts, working with difficult thoughts and emotions, and heart practices such as lovingkindness, compassion, forgiveness and empathy. We’ll combine silent sitting and walking meditation with teaching, discussion, and some interactive practices, particularly looking at the integration of formal meditation practices and our daily life practice in responding to challenges and difficulties.
November 19 (Wednesday morning class), Spirit Rock. 9 to 11 a.m. (see class description at end).
November 21 (Friday evening), Oakland: East Bay Meditation Center, 6.30 to 8.30 p.m.: Movement, meditation, and talk. 285 17th St., Oakland (near 19th St. Oakland BART), 510-268-0696, http://www.eastbaymeditation.org/, no fee, support for center and teachers all on a dana (generosity or donation) basis.
November 26 (Wednesday morning class), Spirit Rock. 9 to 11 a.m. (see class description at end).
November 30 (Sunday): Marin Sunday Sangha, San Rafael, 6 to 8 p.m.: Meditation, talk, discussion, meditation. Usually led by Phillip Moffitt and held at St. Luke’s Presbyterian Church,10 Bayview Drive, San Rafael, CA 94901. For further info, go to www.marinsangha.org/sangha/.
December 3 (Wednesday morning class), Spirit Rock. 9 to 11 a.m. (see class description at end).
December 7 (Sunday): Marin Sunday Sangha, San Rafael, 6 to 8 p.m.: Meditation, talk, discussion, meditation. Usually led by Phillip Moffitt and held at St. Luke’s Presbyterian Church,10 Bayview Drive, San Rafael, CA 94901. For further info, go to www.marinsangha.org/sangha/.
December 10 (Wednesday morning class), Spirit Rock. 9 to 11 a.m. (see class description at end).
December 16-23 (Tuesday to Tuesday), Spirit Rock: Insight Meditation at the Solstice: Embracing the Dark, Inviting the Light Solstice, 7-day retreat with Heather Sundberg and John Travis). In this retreat, we will emphasize centering ourselves at the time of the holidays and the New Year, quieting our minds, grounding in our bodies, opening up our hearts, and using inquiry to help give energy to our practice. There will be a special emphasis on opening to the darkness, including to our difficulties and challenges, as well as to the coming light--such as beauty, joy and love. We will have a winter solstice ceremony. The retreat will include complete meditation instructions, sitting and walking meditation, daily lovingkindness practice, evening talks, and interviews.
December 29 to January 4 (Monday through Sunday), Cultivating Clear Seeing, Opening the Heart (with Heather Sundberg), 6-day retreat: Cloud Mountain (north of Portland, OR): In this New Year's retreat we will emphasize the development of wisdom and the awakened heart through practices that help us to quiet our minds, ground in our bodies, open our hearts, and strengthen mindfulness leading to insight. There will be a special emphasis on both the cultivation of liberating insight into our basic nature and the nature of experience, and lovingkindness practice -- cultivating a warm, open heart toward ourselves and others, as a basic way of being in the world, as well as the integration of these two foundational practices. As we move into the New Year, we'll enjoy a New Year's ritual that supports the general aim of our retreat -- to empower our deeper intentions for the coming year. There will be complete meditation instructions, sitting and walking meditation, evening talks and personal meetings with the teachers, all in the context of a small, supportive practice community. We will also offer simple Qigong movement practice and chanting. The retreat is open to new as well as experienced practitioners. For further info, go to http://cloudmountain.org.
Further retreats and daylongs in 2015:
January 12-19, Spirit Rock, Metta Retreat (with Konda Mason [yoga], Heather Sundberg, and Larry Yang).
February 3-8, Tucson, Lovingkindness: Cultivating the Open and Wise Heart (with Anna Douglas).
February 15, Spirit Rock, Cultivating Wise Speech: Becoming More Skillful in Your Speech Practice, Including in Difficult Situations.
February 28-March 28, Spirit Rock: March Monthlong Retreat (with Teja Bell [Qigong], Sylvia Boorstein [last two weeks], Winnie Nazarko, Mary Grace Orr [first two weeks], Heather Sundberg, John Travis,).
April 20-21, Spirit Rock: Lovingkindness (with Heather Sundberg).
May 10, Spirit Rock: Working with Judgments.
May 17-22, Esalen: Transforming the Judgmental Mind.
June 15-21, Spirit Rock: From the Breath to Spacious Awareness (with Teja Bell and Susie Harrington).
Ongoing Wednesdays Class, Spirit Rock, Woodacre, CA: 9 to 11 a.m. morning class: Co-teach with Sylvia Boorstein (most Wednesdays, either Sylvia or I will teach): 45 minute meditation, talk and discussion. Class cost $8-10, teaching is by donation (dana). Donald will be teaching October 1, 8, 22; November 19, 26; and December 3, 10.
Information for Spirit Rock Retreats and Daylongs: Registration: For more information, call 415-488-0164 or go to www.spiritrock.org/. Daylongs cost $50-108 sliding scale, plus a donation (dana) for the teacher. Volunteer opportunities are available; contact the Spirit Rock volunteer coordinator, at 415-488-0164, x224.
Donald’s Talks Are Available At:
Dharma Seed (www.dharmaseed.org /)
Audio Dharma (www.audiodharma.org/)
Benicia Sangha (www.bsangha.net/)
and other sites.