All times are Pacific unless otherwise indicated.
July 10 (Sunday): Spirit Rock: Developing and Deepening Inquiry as a Factor of Awakening in Formal Meditation and Daily Life. Daylong Retreat (10 a.m. to 5 p.m.). Inquiry (or investigation) is one of the Seven Factors of Awakening, a quality that both leads to and expresses awakening! Inquiry can be a crucial factor in our practice, leading to greater aliveness, energy, interest, and learning. Yet we may believe that meditation should be about "not thinking.” We'll see how we need to be able initially not to be ruled by thinking; this can make it possible then to use thinking and questioning fruitfully in inquiry. We’ll explore five modes of inquiry: (1) bringing inquiry into our mindfulness practice in several ways; (2) listening deeply, particularly through the body and emotions, when there are repetitive thoughts and narratives, as well as difficult experiences; (3) using a core teaching to guide one's practice; (4) radical questioning; and (5) uncovering and transforming limiting beliefs. The daylong will combine short talks, guided inquiry practices, and discussion. For further information: https://spirit-rock.secure.retreat.guru/program/practices-for-deepening-inquiry-in-meditation-and-daily-life-dr2d22/?_ga=2.66971242.55262431.1654573823-745038866.1654097037
July 12-17 (Tuesday to Sunday): Berkeley, CA: Transforming the Judgmental Mind (with Eve Decker): An in-person non-residential retreat, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. Judgments of a reactive nature are very strong in most of our lives, and in the dominant culture. They can distort our perceptions, make relationships difficult, and undermine our work in the world. In this retreat, we will explore such judgments (and their difference from non-reactive discernment) and how to transform them. We will cultivate mindfulness of judgments; inquiry into the deep roots of judgments; and heart practices such as lovingkindness, forgiveness, and compassion. We will also explore the somatic and social dimensions of judgments and how to cultivate skill in speech and interaction in the midst of 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, compulsive aspects. The retreat will be held mostly in silence, including guided meditations, along with group and individual practice discussions. Those attending the retreat will have the option of continuing with follow-up sessions after the retreat. Prerequisite: Strongly recommended: A background in mindfulness practice and a regular mindfulness practice. Location: Sacred Stream (2149 Byron St., Berkeley, CA (walk from BART). For further information: https://donaldrothberg.com/register
July 20 (Wednesday morning class), Spirit Rock, 10 to noon. Meditation, talk, and discussion. Go to: https://www.spiritrock.org/programs/wednesday-morning. On Zoom.
July 22 (Friday), Oakland: East Bay Meditation Center, 6.30 to 8.30 p.m., with Arisika Razak: Meditation, talk, and discussion. Support for center and teacher on a dana (generosity or donation) basis. For further information: http://www.eastbaymeditation.org/. On Zoom.
July 27 (Wednesday morning class), Spirit Rock, 10 to noon. Meditation, talk, and discussion. Go to: https://www.spiritrock.org/programs/wednesday-morning. On Zoom.
August 5 (Friday), Oakland: East Bay Meditation Center, 6.30 to 8.30 p.m., with Arisika Razak: Meditation, talk, and discussion. Support for center and teacher on a dana (generosity or donation) basis. For further information: http://www.eastbaymeditation.org/. On Zoom.
August 9 (Tuesday): Young Person’s Sangha, Sacramento, 7 to 9 p.m. Meditation, talk, and discussion. For further information: http://sactoinsight.org/activities/practice-opportunities/young-persons-sangha/. Hybrid: In-person at the Sacramento Dharma Center, 3111 Wissemann Dr., Sacramento, CA 95826, and on Zoom.
August 14 (Sunday morning): San Francisco, Gay Buddhist Fellowship 10.30 to 12 noon, held at San Francisco Buddhist Center, 37 Bartlett Street (near 21st St. between Mission & Valencia). For further information: https://gaybuddhist.org. Hybrid: In-person (masks required), and on Zoom.
August 19-20 (Friday evening talk, Saturday daylong). New York Insight. For further information: https://www.nyimc.org. On Zoom.
Friday Evening (6 to 8 p.m. Eastern): Buddhist Wisdom Perspectives and the Transformation of Racism. As many Buddhist practitioners increasingly support greater diversity and inclusion in their communities, commit to their own inner work transforming the racial conditioning that they receive, and look to find ways to act in the larger society, the resources of Buddhist practice can be of great value. In this evening talk, Donald will particularly focus on the core wisdom teachings of the Buddha, integrated with attention to the history of race, whiteness and blackness, and racism in the English colonies and later the United States. How are the phenomena of race and racism in particular rooted in greed and ignorance, individual and collective, that then lead to hatred and massive dukkha? How can more clarity about these wisdom teachings and historical perspectives guide our current practice to transform racism?
Donald’s perspectives are grounded in his work in socially engaged Buddhism over the last decades and his more recent offering of retreats on Buddhist practice and transforming racism (for people racialized as “white”). He has been inspired by the pioneering Buddhist work of Ruth King, Larry Yang, Gina Sharpe, Rhonda Magee, Lama Rod Owens, angel Kyodo williams, and Chenxing Han, among many others. Donald is offering this talk in honor and in the memory of his mother, Bernice, born in the Bronx, who dedicated many years of her life to working for racial justice and the eradication of poverty, in New York, Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Richmond, Virginia. The evening session will include a period of meditation, followed by a talk and discussion.
Saturday Daylong (10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern): The “Thinning” of the Self: Exploring and Practicing Anattā (“Not-Self”). The teaching of anattā (“not-self”) points to one of the three fundamental areas of liberating insight taught by the Buddha, along with the teachings on anicca (impermanence) and on dukkha (usually translated as “suffering”). Yet anattā can be very challenging and confusing for contemporary practitioners. Is there “no self” (sometimes anattā is translated as “no self”)? How do we understand our senses of individuality, identity, ancestry and ethnicity, and vocation? How do we address our own personal experiences of woundedness, trauma, and oppression? Are these all simply to be “transcended”? How is a sense of self, as the Buddha taught, in many ways important for spiritual development, and how is working with our own individual conditioning, whether psychological or social in origin, central to our liberation? How do we integrate attending to such conditioning with opening as well beyond the habitual sense of self?
In this daylong, we will explore these vital questions primarily in a practical way. Using the metaphors of “thinning the self” and working with a “thick” sense of self, we will cover three aspects of practice: (1) cultivating, in several ways, the “thinning” of the self, both in meditation and in everyday life, including working with the Five Skandhas or “aggregates” of experience (a main way that the Buddha taught anattā); (2) tracking and working with different manifestations of a “thick” sense of self, both as appearing in experience and as hidden to awareness; and (3) opening beyond a fixed sense of self, as awareness, compassion, and responsiveness deepen.
August 24 (Wednesday morning class), Spirit Rock, 10 to noon. Meditation, talk, and discussion. Go to: https://www.spiritrock.org/programs/wednesday-morning. On Zoom.
August 27-28 (Saturday, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Sunday, 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.): San Luis Obispo: Doing and Not-Doing in Meditation and Daily Life: In meditation as well as in daily life, “doing” and skillful effort are vital, and it’s important to learn better how to be more skillful in one’s efforts to be aware, wise, and compassionate in both meditation and daily life. On the other hand, it’s also central to learn better how simply to “be,” in meditation and daily life, to be able to let go of doing at times and become more receptive to life and the moment. Our doing, in other words, can sometimes be “overdone” and it can be helpful to inquire into any habitual sense that we have of being a “doer.” In this retreat, we will explore these themes in practice and discussion. We will also examine what is taught in many spiritual traditions, including the Buddhist tradition, that a central deeper expression both of meditation and daily life can be understood as a kind of profound “non-doing” that paradoxically can also be a basis for action and doing, a "doing coming out of a deep not-doing"! The weekend will involve periods of silent practice, short talks, and discussion. It is recommended that participants have had basic mindfulness instructions and, if possible, have a regular mindfulness practice. For further information: https://www.whiteheronsangha.org. Hybrid: Zoom and in-person.
August 31, September 7 (Wednesday morning class), Spirit Rock, 10 to noon. Meditation, talk, and discussion. Go to: https://www.spiritrock.org/programs/wednesday-morning. On Zoom.
September 11 (Sunday): San Rafael: Marin Sunday Sangha, 6 to 7:30 p.m. or so: Meditation, talk, and discussion. For further information: www.marinsangha.org. By Zoom.
September 13-17 (Tuesday to Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day): Spirit Rock (in-person, non-residential): Settling, Seeing, and Luminous Awareness. In this retreat, we will train in three inter-related modes of practice. First, we will settle and stabilize our minds and bodies, becoming more concentrated, through both sitting and moving forms of meditation, including regular Qigong. As we settle, we then become better able to examine closely both our experiences of our bodies, thoughts, and emotions, and the general patterns of experience, both more personal and more universal. We see more clearly when we are reactive, when we suffer, when there is a thick sense of self, and we learn to be more with the impermanent flow of experience. We can also tune in more, as we settle and see, to an increasingly unconfined and luminous awareness beyond reactivity, that is a source of freedom, wisdom, and compassion, both in retreat practice and daily life. Prerequisite: Completion of a class or retreat in mindfulness practice and a regular mindfulness practice highly recommended. For further information: https://spirit-rock.secure.retreat.guru/program/settling-seeing-and-luminous-awareness-dr1m22/?_ga=2.62477996.1851461210.1658532998-275921235.1658532998.
September 18 (Sunday): San Rafael: Marin Sunday Sangha, 6 to 7:30 p.m. or so: Meditation, talk, and discussion. For further information: www.marinsangha.org. By Zoom.
October 5 (Wednesday morning class), Spirit Rock, 10 to noon. Meditation, talk, and discussion. Go to: https://www.spiritrock.org/programs/wednesday-morning. On Zoom.
October 10-17 (Monday to Monday): Southern Dharma Retreat Center (North Carolina): Concentration and Awakened Awareness: A Retreat for Experienced Practitioners: In this retreat, we will train in two inter-related modes of practice. In the first half of the retreat, we will settle and stabilize our minds and bodies, developing more concentration (samādhi), through both sitting and moving forms of meditation, including Qigong. A key to developing samādhi, so crucial for insight practice as well as daily life, is learning how to combine ease, relaxation, and joy, on the one hand, with persistence and skillful effort. In the second half of the retreat, on the basis of greater stability of mind, we will learn better how to tune in to an increasingly unconfined and luminous awareness beyond distraction, habitual experience, and reactivity, that is a source of freedom, wisdom, and compassion, both in formal meditation and daily life. These two practices will both be supported by metta (lovingkindness) practice. There will be both group and one-on-one meetings with the teacher. Prerequisite: Completion of at least two 5-night or longer silent insight meditation retreats or permission of the teacher. Registration opens July 1. For further information: https://www.southerndharma.org/retreat-schedule/1084/concentration-and-awakened-awareness-a-retreat-for-experienced-practitioners/. I’ll also be tentatively offering events in Asheville, North Carolina before the retreat (dates and times to be determined).
October 26-30 (Wednesday to Sunday): Southern Dharma Retreat Center (North Carolina): Self-Retreat (tenative). I'll be supporting self-retreatants with talks and individual meetings.
November 19 (Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.): California Institute of Integral Studies, San Francisco: Daylong workshop: Navigating Through Your Dark Night of the Soul (with Marisa Handler). At some point in many of our lives, we pass through a “dark night of the soul,” or an extended encounter with the darkness. In this time, it may feel as though we have utterly lost ourselves, and our lives have been drained of joy and hope. This may manifest as depression, anxiety, or a breakdown, affecting our ability to function in the world and baffling ourselves and our loved ones. In the Western world, we have little framework for these kinds of experiences, and they are often hidden and regarded with shame. But in many other cultures, dark times are viewed as key to the evolution of an individual’s psyche. When we are open to their gifts, these experiences can be times of powerful transformation and purification, leaving us altogether changed for the better.
Join Marisa Handler and Donald Rothberg for a supportive experiential workshop exploring the dark night of the soul phenomenon as it manifests both personally and collectively. Marisa and Donald offer a map of this terrain and of the dark night as a component of the awakening process. They share perspectives and practices that help participants move through these challenging periods and become more open to a greater perspective. This workshop offers periods of both silent and guided meditation, reflective writing, and also small and large group sharing.
We live in challenging times and many are going through individual periods of darkness; many as well have a sense of a collective dark night. When we are prepared as individuals to navigate these experiences, we can then provide space for others to grow and heal, and ultimately support us all passing through the dark night. Understand the role such experiences play in the awakening process and discover an array of tools for navigating through these times. On Zoom.
November 25 (Friday), Oakland: East Bay Meditation Center, 6.30 to 8.30 p.m., with Ramón Honea: Meditation, talk, and discussion. For further information: http://www.eastbaymeditation.org/. On Zoom.
December 2-3 (Friday, Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day): Spirit Rock: Seeing Clearly and Opening the Heart at the Time of Moving into Darkness (with Sylvia Boorstein). As we move toward the Winter Solstice, we will strengthen our orientation toward wisdom and compassion in all parts of our lives. We will remind ourselves of impermanence and the fragility of everything, of our tendencies at times to reactivity rather than being wise and responsive, and of our interdependence. Seeing clearly how things are and our vulnerability to confusion and delusion, how could we be other than kind? Developing our kindness is the great work of the purification of the heart. As we go back to the fundamentals of the wise heart at this special time, our insight and commitments can deepen, and we may also arrive at new understandings and directions that can guide us in this next cycle of our lives. In this two-day retreat, in the context of community, we will support this process with sitting and walking meditation, short talks, and discussion. On Zoom.
December 4-10 (Sunday to Saturday): Insight LA: Cultivating the Wise Heart on the Cushion and in the World: Practicing Mindfulness and the “Divine Abodes” (Lovingkindness, Compassion, Joy, Equanimity), with Kaira Jewel Lingo. The Divine Abodes (Brahmaviharas) of lovingkindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity, are the places of the open, awakened heart. In this retreat, on the foundation of insight meditation and the development of mindfulness, we will learn the formal practices of lovingkindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity. We will also offer guidance for bringing these practices into daily life, including in challenging situations—whether in our relationships, our work and community lives, or in our efforts at social change. All of these practices strengthen clear seeing and wisdom, self-confidence, self-acceptance, generosity of spirit, steadiness of mind and heart, and skillful action, revealing our fundamental kindness and wisdom, in a culture in which heart and mind are often disconnected. The retreat will generally alternate silent sitting meditation and walking meditation. Core instructions in the different practices will be offered, along with talks, discussion, and brief daily guided movement sessions. For further information and registration: https://insightla.org/event/cultivating-the-wise-heart/2022-12-04-14-00/registration/. On Zoom.
December 23 (Friday), Oakland: East Bay Meditation Center, 6.30 to 8.30 p.m., with Arisika Razak: Meditation, talk, and discussion. Support for center and teacher on a dana (generosity or donation) basis. For further information: http://www.eastbaymeditation.org/. On Zoom.
Ongoing Wednesdays Class, Spirit Rock, Woodacre, CA: 10 a.m. to noon morning class: Share teaching with Sylvia Boorstein (most Wednesdays, either Sylvia or I will teach; Heidi Bourne has also been subbing for Sylvia in much of 2020 – 2022): 45 minute meditation, talk and discussion. Donald will be teaching July 20, 27; August 24, 31; September 7; and October 5. Further dates to be determined.