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Lunch Talk: Meditation, Materialism, and Freedom

The meditation taught by the Buddha, and by authentic masters in the 2500 years since his lifetime, is a path to inner freedom.  It is not a religion, nor a search for a higher power, nor an attempt to console oneself with lofty ideas about spirituality. Rather it is a direct investigation of our state of being in the present moment, requiring integrity, courage, and unconditional kindness.

The challenge the modern West faces in assimilating the Buddha’s method of awakening is deep and all pervasive. It centers on our materialism—our attempt to translate the spiritual path into experiences that will reassure and fortify the ego rather than challenging and dismantling it.  Ego can manipulate anything for its own purposes—including meditation.

Materialism is a path to security and comfort on a superficial level, but never to freedom. How we understand meditation—and how we practice it—will determine which path we take.

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About the Speaker

Frank W. Berliner grew up in New York and was educated at Yale, where he received his BA in 1967, and Naropa University, where he earned an MA in Transpersonal Counseling in 1994.

He has studied, practiced, and taught meditation for forty-three years as a close student of the founder of Naropa, the Tibetan Buddhist meditation master Chogyam Trungpa, Rinpoche. 

Mr. Berliner began his training in 1974, when he moved to Trungpa Rinpoche’s residential retreat center in Vermont, and lived there for the following four years, immersing himself in the study of Buddhadharma and the practice of sitting meditation.  

Over a twelve-year period from 1980-1992, and at the request of Chogyam Trungpa, Mr. Berliner served as National Administrative Director of Shambhala Training, and Executive Director and Resident Teacher of the Berkeley Shambhala Center.

During this time, he taught several hundred programs in meditation and Buddhist philosophy and psychology throughout the United States and Canada. He also engaged in solitary meditation retreats annually.

From 1995-2015 he served as an Associate Professor of Contemplative Psychology at Naropa University, where he taught Buddhist and Western Existential Psychology, and the practice of meditation, to BA and MA students. He retired from his teaching position there in 2015.