Each year, I go on a meditation retreat with an incredible group of about twenty friends and mentors. We meet in a house on Martha’s Vineyard where we spend 7 days together meditating in silence and then have a weekend of hanging out, socializing, sharing what we’re up to in our lives and spending time on the beach. We’ve been doing this now for eight years, and I just returned a couple of days ago from our most recent retreat. (You can see pictures from prior years here.) While I can write a lot about this unique group, how it came to be, the wonderful individuals that are a part of it and the joys and challenges of the experiment in spiritual community that we’ve been engaging in for almost a decade, I’m going to save that for another time.
What I wanted to share was one of the practices that we have, one where people in the group give talks about our experience on the spiritual path. Colloquially these are called dharma talks in the Buddhist community, and they are generally given by meditation teachers and masters on specific themes and ideas from the “dharma”, or Buddha’s teachings. One thing I always loved about our group is that there is a trust in the ability of every person in it to bring the wisdom of their own experience to the larger community, as opposed to reserving the sharing of knowledge to those in the group that are formally spiritual teachers.
Over the years, these dharma talks have been one of the things that I look forward to most. They’re invariably funny, profound and personal, and I’ve learned a lot from my fellow meditators through them. I gave one last year, which I just now got a digital copy of, so I thought I’d share it.
The talk was on the topic of resonance and the significant role it plays on the spiritual path. It has a lot to do with rhetoric as well, though I didn’t think of it in those terms at the time. Through the talk I weave in fan fiction and appropriation, ancient serial killers, Ze Frank, mental jujitsu and Obama, and I personally think it’s both fun and interesting. For those that would like to listen, you can download an mp3 here, or listen through the player below. One caveat is that the very beginning is a little confusing out of context, as the talk was given in the middle of a week where others had given talks that I referenced then, a second is that while some concepts I talk about will only be familiar to those with background in Buddhism, overall the general message is widely applicable in my opinion. Also, when I use the word “practice”, it’s referring to the overall practice of the Buddhist path which includes meditation, worldview and ethical frameworks. Enjoy!