Sunday Talks

Each Sunday from 6-7 PM, a free talk on Nyingma teachings or related topics is presented by a Nyingma Institute faculty member or guest lecturer.

Late Summer & Sept. 2017 Talks

August 6: Traveling the Buddhist Path—Aging and Overcoming the Fear of Death

It has been said that we die as we have lived. Recognizing the truth of this statement can wake us up to the fact that preparing for death can make our lives more meaningful.

Elissa Slanger, a Nyingma Institute instructor and student of Buddhism for over fifty years, will address key teachings on impermanence and recount how her own near-death experience reinforced her Buddhist practice.

August 13: Expanding Vision: Seeing Mind in Operation

We often rely on limited ways of viewing and embrace narrow focal settings as “obvious” and “clear.” Can we open the aperture of mind more widely to see the operations of mind and find more freedom?

Nyingma Institute instructor, Hugh Joswick, presents practices and exercises to open the faculty of seeing in order to allow objects to simply be in your field of awareness.

August 20: When you say ‘Me,’ who do you mean?

We use the words “me” and “I” so readily, but when we think about it, where is that entity to be found? If we analyze the components of “I”, which of them are what makes me “me”? And where is it that “I” ends and “other” begins?

Drawing from Buddhist teachings, longtime Nyingma student and clinical psychologist, Elissa Slanger, explores answers to these questions. This will be a participatory talk, with exercises helping participants gain fresh perspective on “selfhood.”

August 27: Tarthang Tulku Rinpoche’s Writings

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Guest lecturer Betty Cook is a longtime student of Tarthang Tulku Rinpoche. She has edited and compiled books on Buddhist history, served as editor for Dharma Publishing, and presented workshops on Buddhism in Europe and Brazil.

September 3: Space, Body, Light: An Exploration of Buddhist Art Across Time & Space

Buddhist art is an immense topic. From its inception in India around 250 BCE, it has grown into a vast web of traditions spreading throughout South & Southeast Asia, Central Asia, the Himalayas, East Asia – and now the west in the era of global modernism.

In this talk, we will investigate, discuss, and enjoy a handful of extraordinary artworks that represent pivotal moments within the magnificent history of Buddhist visual culture. Going back to the beginnings of Buddhist art in ancient South & Southeast Asia, we will explore some of the earliest monumental sacred spaces constructed two millennia ago. As we move forward in time, we will survey figurative images of the Buddha, considering how the vision of the Buddha developed in India, Tibet, China, Korea, and Japan. We will end by considering contemporary artists whose work responds to both modernist art and the ancient teachings of the Buddha.

Led by an art historian, this talk will include both lecture and discussion, as we examine historically significant artworks in photographic reproduction. We will spend time looking deeply, relating artworks to their original historical worlds, and discovering the power of art to support the transmission of the Buddha’s teachings.

Elizabeth Davis earned her PhD in art history at UC Berkeley. A curator and writer as well as a professor of art history, she has produced exhibitions & written for SFMOMA, the Cantor Arts Center, Fort Lewis College, and Diablo Valley College, where she currently teaches.

September 10:  Finding Well-being by Connecting with Nature

The natural world can be a profound source of healing and insight. It is often easier to focus and relax the mind while connecting with nature – nature can support our meditative awareness, and we can use our meditative skills to deepen our
connection with nature. In this talk, we will examine recent psychological research on nature and human well-being, and will work with practices that help us to engage deeply with our natural surroundings. Some of this talk will take place in the
Nyingma garden.

Mary Gomes is a Professor of Psychology at Sonoma State University, where she teaches meditation and practices of nature connection. She is a co-editor of the anthology “Ecopsychology: Restoring the Earth, Healing the Mind.”

 

 

Previous Talks

May 7: Barr Rosenberg on “Routing Thought through the Senses”

Much of the time our thoughts do not help us to live our lives. By contrast, our eyes and ears and sense of movement constantly bring us useful information. We can receive significant benefit from thinking when we route our thoughts through our senses. Innovative techniques blend the creative potential of our thought process with the disciplined awareness of our senses, while taking advantage of our mind’s high level responsiveness to sensory inputs. We can readily retrain our thinking for more effective problem solving.

May 14: Donna Morton on “Supporting Brain Health”

We can take steps now to maintain the resilience and health of our mental functions. Donna Morton, Tibetan Yoga instructor, physical therapist, and nutritional consultant will share ways from each of these disciplines that can help you to slow the aging process of the brain.

May 21: Olivia Hurd on “Meditation as Gesture of Balance”

Seeking balance is a process of trying to gain stability through exploring the edges of what is not balance. Meditation can be such a process. If obstacles arise in meditation, we can learn to touch them gently, feeling our way, rather than reacting to them with discouragement. Olivia Hurd, Nyingma Institute meditation instructor will discuss ways we can use obstacles to expand our capabilities, moving beyond them to enjoy more freedom and openness in the process. A short practice will be included.

May 28: Santosh Philip on “Opening to Natural Beauty”

We can cultivate seeing and sensing natural beauty. Even in the midst of a city the color of the sky, the touch of the wind, a glimpse of a tree can awaken our sense of wonder and joy. Nyingma Institute instructor Santosh Philip will present ways to expand your experience of the beauty of the natural world. He will also lead you in awareness exercises that show how meditation can further deepen enjoyment of the world around us.

June 4: Pauline Yu on “The Cobbler, the King and Other Yogis: Stories of the 84 Siddhas”

The 84 Siddhas are a remarkable and incredibly varied array of Vajrayana practitioners who attained realization. Nyingma Institute instructor, Pauline Yu, draws from Buddha’s Lions: The Lives of the 84 Siddhas, and speaks to the inspiration and insights offered to us by these fantastical stories.

June 11: Hugh Joswick on “Meditation and Mind”

How does meditation affect the mind? Nyingma Institute instructor Hugh Joswick will approach this subject experientially, exploring how our perceptions of ‘mind,’ ‘self’ and even “meditation” change as we practice being with whatever we are experiencing. The talk will include a short meditation practice.

June 18: Peggy Kincaid on “Kum Nye Dancing”

Nyingma Institute instructor, Peggy Kincaid, will describe some of the fundamental principals of Tarthang Tulku’s Kum Nye Dancing and demonstrate ways to engage and activate the energies of the body through movement and dance.

June 25: Pauline Yu on “Thoughts”

How does the Nyingma tradition approach thoughts, particularly as they surface in meditation? What is their nature, and how does one work with them? Nyingma Institute instructor, Pauline Yu, leads meditative practices to relax the mind and gently investigate thinking, based on the chapter titled “Thoughts” from Openness Mind.

July 2:  Olivia Hurd on “Meditation as a process of Developing Self-Confidence through Self-Discovery”

How can meditation practice strengthen our inner confidence?  It is possible, through looking at mind free from judgments, and with openness, to discover qualities of mind that we can rely on: peacefulness, insight, and satisfaction.  Beneath the divisive concepts of who we think we are, we can find a trustworthy resource that inspires us from within.  This talk by meditation instructor Olivia Hurd will include practices to encourage mind’s flexibility and balance through expanding awareness.

July 9:  Ken McKeon on “TSK, Right from the Start!”

Ken McKeon, Nyingma Institute teacher, writer, and TSK practitioner since 1980, introduces Time, Space, and Knowledge: a new vision of reality. His talk will include instruction in TSK introspective practices. Based on Tarthang Tulku’s Time, Space, and Knowledge.

July 16:  Santosh Philip on  “Advanced Kum Nye: The Joy of Being.”

Tarthang Tulku has written that “The physical exercises of Kum Nye are only the outward forms of a holistic vision of human being. Their true value lies in their ability to stimulate energy that joins body and mind in a continuum of joy and appreciation.” In this talk, Kum Nye instructor Santosh Philip will discuss how to deepen Kum Nye practice, and invite joy and appreciation more fully into your life.

July 23:  Mark Henderson on “Training for Freedom”

Classic Buddhist education employs three trainings—shila (ethics), samadhi (meditation), and prajna (wisdom)—to develop wholesome knowledge and power. Nyingma Institute instructor Mark Henderson will introduce these traditional methods for clearing away the network of confusion and karmic patterns.

July 30:  Barr Rosenberg on  “You and I can be We”

When we invest our care in others, our positive feelings grow and spread; others respond with their love, and the richness of this shared experience uplifts the quality of life everywhere. Tarthang Tulku, Skillful Means

When we come together as ‘We,’ mutual trust frees us from the narrow self-protective and contentious concerns that are so common when relating as ‘You and I’. ‘We’ can share love, and the love we share can extend to others. However, ‘We’ is not stable, and when contention separates us we revert to ‘You and I.’ The usual mode for stabilizing ‘We’ is ‘We against they:’ we unite in opposition to outsiders, and coalesce through our shared purposes. The contention among us has faded, but contention against outsiders has taken its place.  Nyingma Institute Instructor and former dean, Barr Rosenberg, shows that ‘We’ is readily accessible without requiring ‘We against they,’ and that the simple joy of We’ can serve as the stabilizing force.