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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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. …

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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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, …

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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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. …

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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)