Audio: Talks & guided meditations

Here you’ll find recordings of talks and meditations from the Tuesday Satsang, Spirit Rock, East Bay Meditation Center, and elsewhere. Satsang talks often include the meditation from the same night, and are grouped in series’ on topics. 

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The Noble Eightfold Path to the End of Dissatisfaction

A new dive into the Noble Eightfold Path, the Buddha's brilliant scaffolding for integrated individual and collective liberation. We start, as is traditional, with Right View: the turning of the heart toward reality and away from delusion. Right View is both …

Buddhism & Yoga: Integrating the Traditions

Buddhism and Yoga are two major branches on the family tree of South Asian spiritual practice, whose roots we can glimpse in ancient texts called upaniṣads. Both branches focus on transformative practice aimed at the end of suffering and stress. …

The Radical Inquiry of Buddhist Mindfulness

One of the most prolific and brilliant Buddhist scholars of our generation is the German Theravāda monastic, Ven. Anālayo. His vast research on the texts and doctrines of Early Buddhism has transformed both the academic study of Early Buddhism and …

Liberation and Finality: Does this Path have an end?

A series of talks on the difficult descriptions of liberation in the Theravāda system: the Four Paths and Fruits. We talked mostly about Stream-entry, emphasizing some of the most mysterious aspects of this idea. Finality. Completion. Perfection. To engage or …

Wildfires, Unrighteous Rulers

The worst fire ever in California history in terms of death toll (the "Camp Fire") just burned down the entire town of Paradise, outside of Chico. And the president, as usual, said unfactual, unhelpful, unkind things (like that if people …

Election Night, Hopelessness, Saṃsāra

We gather in a small group on election night 2018, before the results came in for the midterms that would initially look meh but roll slowly into a nice blue wave, with a few big disappointments (Gillum, Abrams, O'Rourke) and …

Mettā is a Prayer for World Peace

A few days after the Pittsburgh Synagogue bombing by an anti-semitic white nationalist, we practice and discuss the radical communal prayer called mettā (Loving-kindness, benevolence, friendliness). How radiating mettā to All Beings, including the difficult ones, is the same as …

Toward an Enraged Buddhism, Part 2

Continuing from Part 1, I talk here more about the value of anger, and differentiating types of strong aversive emotion. Anger, rage, critique, and tone. What's skillful or unskillful for individual or communal liberation? Self-protective nervous system responses, tone-policing, who …

4 Modes of Attention

One way to think about mindfulness and effort in meditation practice is to imagine a graph where the X axis is volition (doing things on purpose), and the Y axis is consciousness, or being aware of what's happening. Here's a …

Toward an Enraged Buddhism, Part 1

Reevaluating anger and rage on a week where writing about rage, and especially women's rage at injustice, is hitting threshold in my community. A simple promo post for this talk initiated a lovely, spread out conversation with folks on FB, …

Reflections on Right Speech After the Kavanaugh Hearings

Like so many folks, I was troubled by the Senate hearings on Brett Kavanaugh's fitness for the Supreme Court. Besides the disgusting display of male privilege and delusion the entire thing displayed, AND the heartbreakingly familiar ritual of powerful men …

Positionality is Ancestral Karma

Two talks on the complex current discourse known as "positionality", which basically means that the social roles and conditioned state we experience the world through determine how and what we can perceive and know. I propose that the practice of inquiry …

Mindfulness and its Discontents

A series of talks on "Mindfulness," the great universal self-improvement practice. Ok, not quite. But mindfulness is awesome. Just not in the way the magazines want you to think. We'll start with the basics of Buddhist Mindfulness. What it is and …

The Great Demons: Systemic trauma & social action

Based in our recent exploration of the Diamond Sūtra and the ideal of the Bodhisattva, we begin a series of discussions of what I'll call the Great Demons, the systemic ills we struggle with and which so clearly are conditions …

Vastness & Engagement: Exploring the Diamond Sutra

Coming out of a few weeks of conversation about foundational themes in the Buddhist systems called Mahāyāna, or "Great Vehicle," we look at one of the most important and beloved texts of the Mahāyāna school known as the Perfection of Wisdom …

Samadhi & Nervous System Health

A talk I gave at Insight Meditation South Bay on samādhi in the context of the 7 Awakening Factors. After the cornerstone Factor, Mindfulness, this list is divided into 3 energizing Factors: Investigation of States, Energy, and Rapture; and 3 …

Mahayana View: Vastness & Collective Liberation

A series of talks and meditations I began at the lunar new year (Yang Earth Dog), on Śivaratri, that look at practice as understood by the visionary Buddhist movement known as the Mahāyāna, or "Great Vehicle." I think it rambled …

The [Poisoned] State of the Union

On the evening our beleaguered president gives his first State of the Union address, I give mine. I talk about the early Buddhist framework for understanding the world in terms of three interwoven causes of pain and unskillful action: The …

Impermanence

Three talks on the first of the 3 Characteristics, or Marks (tilakkhaṇa): Impermanence (anicca). As is our practice often lately, the meditations include the Refuge and Precepts pūja. A talk on the quality and practice of refuge, and how we both …

The Whole Path

Opening 2018 with a talk on the "Whole Path" of Buddhist purification and liberation. I used the verse that is often chanted as a summary of the path (Dhammapada 183) as the basis. sabba-pāpassa akaranam kusalassupa-sampadā sacitta-pariyo-dapanam etam buddhāna-sāsanam Do no harmful actions, do …

Intervention vs Observation in Mindfulness Meditation

A short talk and discussion given at Spirit Rock during a Thursday morning yoga and meditation class. I talked about the difference between Bare Awareness styles of instruction and Cultivating Wholesome States styles, and how they relate to each other. …

The practice of meditation

A series of talks looking at the practice of meditation in detail. We discuss different types of instructions, what's happening in the nervous system, how to work with emotion, thought, and sensation, how the practice develops, and more. Part 1: Two …

The Discourse on Loving-Kindness (Mettā Sutta)

I've been wanting to do this series for a long time. We're taking several weeks to study our way slowly through the beautiful Mettā Sutta, the Discourse on the cultivation of Friendliness, or Loving-Kindness. It's a joy to discuss, and …

Buddhist & Hindu Yogas are less separate than you think

A month of talks exploring the relationship between Buddhism and Yoga, or between the many "Buddhist and Hindu Yogas" plural. I wove in some history, but tried to stay close to actual practice issues. 1. Embodiment. (9.5.17) Meditation: Orientation through the senses 2. …

The 4 Divine Abodes (brahmavihāra), plus gratitude

The 4 blessed healing states known as the Divine Abodes, or Divine Abidings (brahmavihāra) are among the most beloved practices in the Buddhist system. We spent a month on them this summer, looking at the power of heart practice on …

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Sutta: The Decline of the True Teaching

“Mendicants, these five things lead to the decline and disappearance of the true teaching. What five? It’s when mendicants don’t carefully listen to the teachings, memorize them, and remember them. They don’t carefully examine the meaning of teachings that they remember. And they don’t carefully practice in line with the meaning and the teaching they’ve understood. These five things lead to the decline and disappearance of the true teaching.

These five things lead to the continuation, persistence, and enduring of the true teaching. What five? It’s when mendicants carefully listen to the teachings, memorize them, and remember them. They carefully examine the meaning of teachings that they remember. And they carefully practice in line with the meaning and the teaching they’ve understood. These five things lead to the continuation, persistence, and enduring of the true teaching.”

(AN 5.154, tr. Sujato)