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Buddhism for Liberation and Social Action. We invite teachers from all schools of Buddhism to offer their perspectives on the dharma and its application in modern times, especially for LGBTQIA audiences. Produced by GBF - The Gay Buddhist Fellowship of San Francisco.
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Why is wholesome speech one of the hardest precepts to navigate? In this talk, Tom Baker explores the many nuances of wise conversation, including: The ways our words cause suffering The intoxicating aspect of slander and gossip The mindfulness component of watching our speech Listening with our whole presence Our responsibility to speak out agains…
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What is humanity's relationship to change? In this talk, Syra Smith shares her thoughts on impermanence, leading with this quote: "Change is the thread woven through the fabric of Human existence, a constant force shaping our journey. In transition, we navigate the spectrum of emotions, from the excitement of new beginnings to the discomfort of unc…
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What does it mean to "be Buddhist?" In his signature honest and humorous style, Kevin Griffin enriches this powerful and practical talk with numerous examples and approaches to making the dharma real in our everyday lives. He shares that living the dharma is not about doing activities that are Buddhist, but instead making every activity we engage w…
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What does it mean to go beyond separation as described in the Heart Sutra? Prasadachitta prefaces this rich talk by asking us to consider all the ways we are steeped in separation. This is evidenced by our language's practice of adding -ism to a tradition or condition to define ourselves or others -- a practice that can serve as a judgment that fos…
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Do we trust our thoughts more than the wisdom of our own experience? In this talk, David Lewis helps us see that our reliance on thinking and studying can be an obstacle to gaining a true understanding of reality. He outlines that Sangha can help us gain wisdom in three ways, through: Direct experience - meditating in silence Listening to Dharma ta…
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Can generosity lead to joy in a wounded world? Ian Challis believes so, and helps us explore both our generous impulses and the actions they give rise to if we allow it. Generosity is the first of the 10 Paramis or beautiful qualities that lead to Buddhahood: Generosity Virtue Renunciation Wisdom Energy Patience Truthfulness Resolve Loving Kindness…
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Steven Tierney shares that we begin to truly embody the Bodhisattva vow when our decisions are based on their impact on "we" rather than "I." We pause and consider others before we think or act. It doesn't mean we forget ourselves, but that others are considered in our actions. Taking this vow we commit to not being instigators of any further chaos…
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How can our practice inform encounters with dark times, when we feel loss or face a turning point with trepidation? Laura Burges shares that we can find "fountains of joy" even in going to the places that scare us. Our practice is not separate from the dark places - we can turn towards the darkness and examine it clearly and experience the "soft he…
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We all have Stories, Opinions, and Ideas but we don't have to buy into them. In this talk, Rev. Daigan Gaither explains that as humans, our minds think; it's just what they do. Letting go of these thoughts can become the focus of our practice. He examines the trap of thinking that our meditation should be a certain way, but then our experience ofte…
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Alchemy is all about transformation, and there is nothing in our practice more transformative than generosity - toward both ourselves and others. In this talk, Kevin Martin shares that what we do on the cushion is the most generous thing we can give to ourselves. Our practice can help us disrupt personal karma by making us more curious about the de…
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How do we bring our practice into the difficult moments of relationships with others? Can we learn from these and approach them with curiosity and presence as an opportunity to grow? René Rivera looks at the ways our practice can help us become more aware of when our words or behaviors generate conflict. He shares his approach to mend these transgr…
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The Diamond Approach incorporates some aspects of psychology to look at what causes our suffering, obscures our innate qualities, and stands in the way of personal freedom. In this talk, Trip Weil examines a key aspect he sees that the Diamond Approach shares with Buddhism: one calls it the super-ego, and the other speaks of the demon Mara. He expl…
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How do we quiet the 'monkey mind' that dwells on regrets of the past and fear of the future? In this talk, Michaiel Patrick Bovenes shares that the monkey mind is fueled by immature aspects of our ego. He looks at the stages our ego goes through as we mature: Am I getting enough? Am I good enough? Am I doing enough? I am enough. He explains how we …
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Sometimes it can be a relief to hear the recognition offered in the First Noble Truth: that suffering exists and everyone experiences it. In addition to this fact, the Buddha taught that suffering can be ended. All of his teachings on achieving this freedom from suffering fall under two wings: wisdom and compassion. In this talk, infused with dharm…
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Dharma friends for over 30 years, Danadasa and John Del Bagno present Dharmic poetry, artwork, and chanting. View the artwork and poetry selections at https://gaybuddhist.org/podcast/art-poetry-and-the-imagination-danadasa-chan-john-del-bagno/ ______________ Dhammachari Danadasa has been practicing with the San Francisco Buddhist Center (SFBC) comm…
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Understanding impermanence is essential for awakening to the dharma - the truth of the way things are. All conditioned phenomena that we experience are impermanent, which is part of the difficulty in life, yet it is perfectly normal. In this talk, Eugene Cash begins with instruction for listening to any dharma talk: by relaxing but remaining aware.…
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We often come with specific expectations about how the practice will help us reduce our suffering. But how do we react when these expectations are not met? What can we learn from these experiences? In this talk, Steven Tierney helps us explore: We often get attached to fixed views because we crave certainty, knowing that we are doing something the …
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Instead of seeing ourselves as separate from the world we observe, can we imagine that it is the Buddha looking out through our eyes, wishing the best for everyone and everything? In this talk, Larry Robinson explains that in the Mayahana traditions, we sit and practice not to attain or accomplish anything, but to express our Bodhicitta, our true n…
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In some of her books, Laura Burges writes about addiction, which she sees as a metaphor for the craving we all experience that leads to suffering. To counter this, the dharma, much like recovery, is passed from person to person. In this talk, she examines the fable of Rumplestiltskin and how greed and craving can take hold of us like a curse or a s…
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Who or what do we refer to when we say, "I am..."? In this talk, Dorothy Hunt explores the difference between the 'home ground' of just being, before we add definitions of 'I am.' Our pure being, or Buddha nature, is always becoming something, and often underlies the doing that we experience. However, as we focus more on doing, it draws us into a n…
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In what ways do we engage in retaliation in our relationships? How can we let go of this urge? In this talk, Dave Richo defines retaliation as reacting equally to the harm that was initiated against us; revenge on the other hand is a magnified form of retaliation. He looks at what various spiritual traditions have to say about retaliation. From a p…
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Part 3: GBF 2023 Fall Retreat. How do we embody in our lives the practices we learn and the qualities we develop on retreat? In this talk, Donald Rothberg examines how we can 'bring the retreat home' with us and make our practice real in everyday life. He suggests key methods for accomplishing this, including: Become grounded in one's body. Meditat…
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Part 2 - GBF 2023 Fall Retreat Most spiritual traditions and religions speak about the value of compassion, but Buddhism seems to be the only one with specific practices for developing this quality and opening our hearts. In this talk, Donald Rothberg explores the challenges we face when opening our hearts. Once we do, how do we integrate this comp…
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Part 1: GBF 2023 Fall Retreat. Our teacher for the weekend, Donald Rothberg, informs us that the purpose of Buddhist practice is to move beyond techniques and teachings, into a deep state of resting in one's own being. There we can experience insight into Impermanence, Dukkha, and Not-Self that informs our behavior in daily life. A 45-min dharma ta…
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In this stressful world, there are many things we can do to alleviate our suffering and the world's, but there's only so much we can change. That's when it becomes important to realize the ways in which we are powerless, and to take refuge from the resulting stress. In this talk, David Lewis shares that true refuge is not a place or a person, it is…
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As queer/non-conforming individuals, how do we claim our unique way of living, but also let go of our attachment to an identity? In this talk, JD Doyle explores how we can re-orient ourselves to our lives, and connect with the non-human aspects of our world, such as other life forms and the natural world. As we witness so many attacks on various ca…
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When we open our heart, we open it to all experiences: our greatest joys and our deepest sorrows. Danadasa opens this talk by reading a poem from the book by Dawna Markova, "I Will Not Die an Unlived Life" He shares an image that represents the meaning of Vadrasana - the "Diamond Throne," on which the Buddha is said to have gained enlightenment und…
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Can we see the extraordinary in the ordinary? How can we discover the sacred in the mundane? In this talk, Tetsugan Tom Baker examines how we can come to realize that we already have everything we need to experience the sacred in our lives. He looks at the common desire for transcendence that underlies most spiritual pursuits, whether Bhakti yoga o…
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How can we use the experience of anxiety to understand the Buddhist concept of emptiness? Dale Borglum shares that our understanding of emptiness is necessary for conscious living and conscious dying, the subject of his life work. Just being on the spiritual path can lead us into anxiety at times, because we are letting go of our identity. This anx…
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Do we have the ability to laugh at ourselves? Bill Weber shares that this is a terrific way to work with one of the foundations of Buddhist wisdom: the concept of Non-self. The allure of our sense of self can easily lead us to become overly attached to our identity. We become competitive, demanding, and obsessive about the way we are treated. To co…
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John Del Bagno discusses Pure Land Buddhism and reads his poems devoted to Amitābha Buddha. John describes Pure Land Buddhism as an alternative to self-powered practice, which often engages the willful, striving aspects of our ego. Pureland relies instead on an 'other power' to bring us to enlightenment: Amitābha Buddha. This is accomplished throug…
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What does the Third Noble Truth really promise when it speaks of "an end to dukkha?" Does it mean an end to unpleasant experiences? In this rich talk, Donald Rothberg shares that the end of dukkha actually means the cessation of our REACTIVITY to unpleasant experiences. He relates the analogy of "the second arrow" to our reactivity (both clinging a…
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In her signature humorous fashion, Ryuko Laura Burges shares wisdom from her latest book: "The Zen Way of Recovery: An Illuminated Path Out of the Darkness of Addiction." Listen in as she reveals her insights on: How recovery can unshackle the mind to deepen one's practice The healing power of forgiveness, of self and others We don't have to be lim…
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Can compassion serve as an antidote to the judgmental messages in our hyper-capitalist society? Told we must justify our worth, we begin clinging to self-righteousness and perceive the world through only our physical senses. Metta practice disrupts this energy that keeps us emotionally stuck. It allows us to see the interconnectedness of all condit…
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Do we truly understand the world around us that we encounter, and the true nature of reality? In this talk, Zerdan explains that the highest wisdom teachings in Buddhism center on Emptiness - realizing the true nature of reality that we experience. To understand the place of Emptiness in Buddhist teachings, Zerdan examines the Three Poisons, or obs…
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In Part 3, René Rivera looks at how we connect intimacy with self and others to the whole of our life. He examines how we can become more aware of, and present to, the world around us. ______________ René Rivera is a meditation teacher, restorative justice facilitator, and leader, working and learning in all the spaces in-between race, gender, and …
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After first exploring intimacy with ourselves in Part 1, we now look at how the dharma informs all our relationships: Intimate, friends, family, colleagues, society, and even the natural and unseen world - ancestors, guides and deities. In this talk, René Rivera reminds us that we can become more grounded in our relationships using the Four Foundat…
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Welcome to EPISODE 800! Most Buddhist practices, such as loving-kindness and compassion, begin with ourselves. So it is with the concept of intimacy, which Daigan describes as "being authentic in the experience of the moment." (One sangha member frames Intimacy as "In-to-me-I-see") In this first of a series on intimacy, Daigan posits that we must b…
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How does joy arise in our lives? Do we notice our experience of joy or do we minimize it as merely a fleeting good feeling? In this talk, Alistair notes that we tend to naturally dwell on the negative, so it's important to welcome and anchor the joy we encounter in life to incline ourselves toward it more and more in each present moment. Recent sci…
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In this talk, John Martin shares that our practice can lead us to a peace that is not dependent on the conditions of the outside world. It is cultivated by our internal practice and inner peace means freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts and emotions. Peace arises in those times when we are not fixated on the past or the future but on the…
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In this interactive talk, Prasadachitta reflects on the practice of chanting and then leads the sangha in a few chants. In the Triratna tradition, chanting engages the imagination, which helps counterbalance the more cognitive aspects of the dharma teachings that engage the rational mind. He describes how chanting and imagery can help us open up to…
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How do we respond when we witness suffering? In this talk, Devin Berry reflects on passages from the Dhammapada related to compassion for others and ourselves in the face of dukkha. He shares that the Buddha described compassion as "the trembling of the heart in response to suffering." Especially in marginalized communities, we practice to create a…
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In this talk, Melvin Escobar encourages us to meditate on two Koans: "What is your original face?" and "What was your original face before your parents were born?" He offers the perspective on aspects of the 3 Jewels: The Buddha - representing the Oneness of all things; The Dharma - representing the Diversity of all things; The Sangha - where Onene…
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Three members of our sangha, Jeff Lindemood, Michael Murphy, and Cass Brayton, recently participated in a month-long meditation retreat in Bali, Indonesia. The retreat was small, only four people, with no teacher per se, so they were able to intimately explore the dharma, and its role in their lives. The three speak about how they structured their …
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In this rich talk, punctuated with wise quotes, David Lewis examines the nature of the mind and shares that our practice can be much easier than we make it out to be. Often we just need to relax and settle in to what is happening in the moment. Tilopa, the teacher of Naropa who founded the Vajrayāna tradition, offered these simple practice instruct…
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Rev. Liên Shutt shares thoughts on how to 'be with' suffering, such as the harm brought about by climate change. Liên shares an approach to reframing the 4 Noble Truths as a restorative model for suffering and harm reduction. She describes the Eightfold Path in terms that are actionable and active rather than passive. Reframing our view in more hol…
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The term Saddhā is often translated as 'faith' but it is different from the 'blind faith' often associated with the word in the West. By exploring the 'Chunky Sutta' we gain an understanding that in the original Pali text, the meaning was closer to 'provisional trust' which is the opposite of skeptical doubt. In Buddhism, we are encouraged to rely …
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Alan Levin shares his personal and professional insights on the use of entheogenic substances in the pursuit of spiritual growth. His interest lies in the potential for psychedelics to amplify one's existing and ongoing spiritual practice. He touches on the importance of safety, guidance, and intention when using these substances for a spiritual ra…
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Steven Tierney explores the many ways that our trust has been broken by our upbringing, by society, and even ourselves, especially when we do not fit in or are considered to be different. Some of the tools we can utilize to repair broken trust include: 1. Mantra practice - to soothe, remain grounded and present in the moment. 2. Cultivate an enligh…
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In this talk, Bob Stahl speaks about his experience with reconciling, making peace, or making amends as we progress through life. He shares his thoughts on reconciling ourselves to four aspects of life: The times I've been too hard on myself. The others I have hurt. Those that have hurt me. The condition of the life that I actually have and now exp…
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