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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2021-02-25 Gratitude 52:46
In the Mangala Sutta, the Discourse on Blessings, the Buddha teaches: "To be content and grateful is a blessing supreme." Gratitude is a particularly potent ally in awakening true happiness because it helps expand the mind as well as the heart. With a grateful heart we have a larger container and more space to hold the difficulties we encounter. When we pause to notice what we usually take for granted a new world of possibilities opens up. It's as if we've changed the station instead of being stuck on our own little "drama channel."
2021-02-18 The Secret Ingredients of Dharma Practice 37:59
One of the lesser known lists are four different qualities of heart, The Four Iddhipadas, that are present in people with differing temperaments, that are powerful motivators for practice.
2021-02-11 Intention from the Heart 49:58
The Buddha taught "Intention is karma". We will look at two manifestations of intention and how we can work with this powerful energy to increase well being.
2021-01-28 Anatta and Self-Forgiveness 49:00
Do you ever give yourself a hard time if you've made an embarrassing mistake or have done something you regret? This talk explores how we can truly forgive ourselves with a thorough understanding of the Buddha's teaching on the selfless nature of who we are, otherwise known as Anatta, the selfless nature of experience.
2020-12-17 The Choice is Ours: Wise Relationship to Our Experience 49:07
These days have even more ups and downs than usual. For many it's both a time of sorrow and a time of joy. The mind can easily get caught in the difficulties when it's contracted by stress. But our Dharma practice shows us we have a choice how to wisely relate to our experience.
2020-12-10 Gregory Kramer on his book “A Whole Life Path" a fresh exploration of the 8-Fold Path. 63:42
Many lay Buddhists struggle to carry the benefits of their studies and meditation practice into their twenty-first-century lives. How might our daily experience of both life and the Buddha’s teachings shift if there were no separation between them? Gregory speaks about the realistic and comprehensive vision that arises when we ask this question: If every moment of my life is Path, then what does each path factor need to cover for this to be true in a grounded, practical way?
2020-12-03 Three Pillars of Dharma 52:14
This is a continuation of the theme of the process of purification that leads to awakening. An exploration of what Joseph Goldstein calls "Three Pillars of Dharma." These are three spheres that we can cultivate which lead to supportive conditions for us to practice and then realize the fruits of practice. Includes Eve Decker offers a song on the theme.
2020-11-19 Transformation is Possible 50:20
When we start the spiritual journey we see that our mind is filled with unskillful habits of thought, colored by attachment, aversion and confusion. The Buddha described the process of purification that enables us to purify and transform first our outward conduct, then our thoughts and finally our subtle spiritual aspirations. This purification process leads ultimately to full awakening. The talk includes the Buddha's teaching of how this process works through the simile of the "Refinement of Mind."
2020-11-12 Across the Great Divide: What the Dharma Can Offer for Healing Our Country 52:09
However you feel about the outcome, the presidential election has underscored the polarization that currently exists in our country. As long as each side mistrusts and fears the other, we cannot truly have peace and work together to make this a better society. What does the Dharma offer to help heal this divide? How can our practice support us individually and collectively to open our hearts with compassion and bridge the gulf with those who seem so different from us? How can we create better understanding and cut through "othering" so that each of us can contribute to greater healing rather than more divisiveness?
2020-11-05 Letting Go of Knowing 50:00
The election and its aftermath has been quite a roller coaster ride. Can we find balance and patience with all feelings that arise while allowing the unfolding to happen in its own time? We explore this theme and offer some practices going through these uncertain times.

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