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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2021-11-11 Letting Your Heartbreak Open to Active Hope 53:05
How can we keep open and stay engaged when our hearts are breaking and we just want to shut down? How can we cultivate a "no-matter-what commitment" as Terry Patten teaches? How can we develop "Active Hope" as Joanna Macy calls it. That is the topic of this week's exploration. The talk includes a powerful 20-minute conversation between Joanna Macy and Thanissara that took place a month before this recording.
2021-11-04 Showing Up for Reality with Humility and Grace: Terry Patten's Last Teaching 50:16
Beloved Philosopher, Teacher and Sacred Activist Terry Patten sadly passed away a few days before this talk. His last book, A New Republic of the Heart, is an inspiring teaching on how to face the global crises we are in. As he went through his own final journey he shared how one can face death with courage, wonder, grace and trust. It was a blueprint for how to meet the pain and sorrow of the world with those same qualities. This talk includes a powerful, clear, deeply moving clip excerpt of Terry's last teaching a week before he passed plus some of his teachings that have touched so many.
2021-10-28 Am I Enough? 53:06
A great Zen treatise says that someone truly enlightened is "without anxiety about non-perfection." It's no wonder that, with such impossible standards that most people hold themselves to, they always seem to fall short. How is it that others can so easily see our goodness while we're often the last ones to see our "True Nature"? The talk includes a short excerpt of Ram Dass sharing his primary practice to remember who we really are.
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.

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