I regularly listen to dharma talks on the internet, and am so grateful for this incredible resource. I have a few favorite teachers who have become touchstones for me, places I know I can go to find answers, be soothed, and be brought back to what is truly important to me. So I thought I would share and celebrate them here. You’ll see if you investigate these links that they are only drops in an enormous dharma-bucket!
Audio Dharma is an archive of talks given at The Insight Meditation Center in Redwood City, CA. Gil Fronsdal is one of the lead teachers here (and at other meditation centers), and I greatly appreciate his ability to explain Buddhist philosophy in simple terms directly applicable to our modern lives. Like all of the teachers I love, he keeps bringing me back to basic kindness and simplicity. He’s also a great story-teller, and I love the sound of his voice! Here is one of my favorite short talks of his.
Dharma Seed is another site full of Vipassana talks — and they have a mobile app, too. Vipassana literally means “clear or intense seeing”, and is often translated as Insight Meditation. It is a practice focused on seeing directly, and clearing away the webs of thoughts and reactions that can entangle us. This talk by Sharon Salzburg addresses what that means and how to do it. Sharon Salzburg is the author of many wonderful books which deal with topics of self-kindness and self-acceptance as well as exploring faith and doubt. Like Gil Fronsdal, she is refreshingly down-to-earth and deeply compassionate. She lets you be safe and welcome with whatever imperfections are part of the package.
Seattle Insight Meditation is both a great online and in-person local resource. Rodney Smith leads talks and practice at St. Mark’s Cathedral every Tuesday evening, and there are several other practice groups, classes, retreats and support systems organized through the large community at SIMS. Rodney Smith continually challenges his students to break through habitual thinking and the blocks that keep us from noticing what would be obvious if it didn’t bother us so much. He spent many years in hospice care, and draws on his experiences to bring us into conversation with death and denial, just as he prods us to see clearly the ways our behaviors impact ourselves, our relationships, our environment. His brainy talks might also blow your mind pondering the organization of the cosmos or the nature of time. He regularly leads a six-week Introduction to Meditation class that is available on their website as a video.
And finally, I must bow to Pema Chodron. She is a Buddhist nun in the Tibetan tradition, and has written many books. She has clearly taken to heart the teaching that the world is ever changing, impossible to grasp or fix. And from that place she can speak powerfully about staying with fear and uncertainty, without turning to anger, self-criticism, or pulling back. I love that she directs us, not to “enlightenment”, but to “sanity”. She reminds us that the state of vulnerability and uncertainty is exactly the state of Buddha-nature or being truly in the moment — something to embrace, not to push away. Here she is on YouTube: