The greatest gift is the
gift of the teachings
James Baraz's Dharma Talks at Insight Meditation Community of Berkeley
James Baraz
I try to convey that the wisdom and compassion we are looking for is already inside of us. I see practice as learning how to purify our mind and heart so we can hear the Buddha inside. In doing so, we naturally embody the dharma and help awaken that understanding and love in others we meet.
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2021-10-14 Letting Go of Knowing: Loving The Mystery: 49:08
This talk explores the freedom that comes from letting go of our attachments to ideas. As the 3rd Zen Patriarch of China said, "Do not search for the truth. Only cease to cherish opinions." What benefit can there be when we truly let go of thinking we know how things really are?
2021-10-07 Emptiness and the Big Perspective 50:29
The Heart Sutra teaching famously states: "Form is Emptiness Emptiness is Form." This liberating perspective is the gateway to understanding the inter-connectedness of all phenomena and the spaciousness and freedom that comes from seeing our place in the bigger scheme of things. The talk includes a recording of Apollo astronaut Rusty Schweikart's moving account of the profound shift he experienced upon seeing the Earth from outer space.
2021-09-23 Seeing Beyond the Mask: Looking Past Our Assumptions 53:33
In his teaching on the Four Noble Truths, the Buddha describes in the Second Noble Truth four kinds of attachments that cause suffering. One of these is attachment to ideas and opinions. We explore this topic of looking beyond our views and opinions that are causing so much divisiveness and separation in these pandemic days.
2021-09-16 Anything Can Happen at Anytime: Working with Uncertainty 49:16
We explore the topic of dealing with uncertainty. Although we never know what lies ahead, at this time the feeling of uncertainty is highlighted in a more acute way globally than ever before. What will happen next with the virus and its variants? Will people get vaccinated or will the anti-vax information continue to influence people's choices? What about climate disruption? Will we collectively wake up to the reality in time to keep from heading over the cliff of self-destruction? What does the Dharma offer us to wisely work with this unknown reality?
2021-08-12 The Buddha's Teaching on How Practice Unfolds: The Five Spiritual Faculties 54:11
The Five Spiritual Faculties is a central teaching of the Buddha that explains how the practice develops and unfolds: This classical list of five qualities expresses both the importance of balance as well as a natural progression of development with one quality leading to the next.
2021-07-29 Different Lenses, Different Realities 46:36
When people ask, "How are you?" it depends on what lens we're looking at life through. The personal lens evokes a very different response than the societal one. This talk explores how we can hold different realities in our minds and hearts at the same time. Also the compassion that comes from understanding that each person has their own reality that makes sense to them.
2021-07-15 Accessing Your Triggers for Insight 51:41
Have you ever had a profound meditation experience and tried with frustration to recreate it?This is a common experience for many practitioners. Just as trauma can be triggered in our body and mind, the same is possible with positive experiences that we've gone through. This talk explores how this works and how we can access those profound moments and the wisdom that they've awakened in us.
2021-07-01 The Buddha's Pithiest Teaching: Bahiya Sutta 55:59
The Buddha's pithiest and shortest teaching, his teaching to Bahiya (Bahiya Sutta). Although only a few short sentences it was enough to result in complete Enlightenment.
2021-06-03 Divisiveness in the Buddha's Community: The Quarrel at Kosambi 52:18
One of the greatest challenges today in the US is divisiveness within the country. However, the Buddha faced the same problem right within his community! The Quarrel at Kosambi tells the story of his sangha dealing with a bitter argument that almost created a schism in the sangha. And the Buddha had a very difficult time trying to bring peace between the two factions. We will discuss this story and the lessons we can learn that can be applied in today's time.
2021-05-27 Not Seeing Dukkha is Dukkha 51:30
This talk is based on a teaching from Joseph Goldstein: "Not seeing dukkha is dukkha." It's humbling to realize that we are creating much of our suffering. But it's through clearly seeing this that we also create the possibility of truly waking up. We can change our whole relationship to seeing how we get caught by old habits and thought patterns from self-judgment to compassion and liberation.

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