Discussion about The Quotable Thanissaro

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Discussion about The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby Anagarika » Sun Dec 15, 2013 1:42 pm

Split off from this thread: viewtopic.php?f=13&t=13339&start=180#p271428

manas wrote:No quote from me, just a testimonial. The translations and elucidations of the Dhamma by Thanissaro Bhikkhu have, over the last few years, been like a light that makes the Dhamma clearer to me, and have been able to rouse and lift me from heedlessness, back into the practice, in difficult times also. I feel very grateful for all his efforts in translation and teaching.

With much respect,
manas.
:anjali:

:goodpost:
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby binocular » Sun Dec 15, 2013 5:44 pm

You're fortunate to be allowed to express your appreciation.
Not so long ago, in some Buddhist circles, for one to declare any affinity for Thanissaro Bhikkhu amounted to painting a bull's eye on one's forehead.
Things have been changing, though.
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby Mkoll » Sun Dec 15, 2013 6:56 pm

binocular wrote:You're fortunate to be allowed to express your appreciation.
Not so long ago, in some Buddhist circles, for one to declare any affinity for Thanissaro Bhikkhu amounted to painting a bull's eye on one's forehead.
Things have been changing, though.

Please forgive me if this is off-topic, but what is the background to this?
Peace,
James
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby fivebells » Sun Dec 15, 2013 7:03 pm

Yes, if there are any contexts where I'm making people uncomfortable by raving about Thanissaro specifically, I'd like to know so I can avoid doing that.
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby binocular » Sun Dec 15, 2013 7:10 pm

Oh well. All those old enough and with war wounds to show know what I'm talking about. The rest probably don't need to know all that much about it ...

:focus:
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby Anagarika » Mon Dec 16, 2013 12:40 am

binocular wrote:You're fortunate to be allowed to express your appreciation.
Not so long ago, in some Buddhist circles, for one to declare any affinity for Thanissaro Bhikkhu amounted to painting a bull's eye on one's forehead.
Things have been changing, though.


I'd be interested to get some feedback on this question, too. What I've observed for a few years is that he is often interviewed and cited for positions on traditional Buddhism by any number of periodicals. He travels some, and teaches at excellent centers. He also is not invited to some Buddhist retreat centers because he took a position against the overcharging by some centers for their retreats, and cautioned these centers that the Dhamma was to be offered freely with support through dana. For this Dhamma centered perspective, he was no longer invited to some of the $500 a day centers to teach. Their loss, IMO.

I have some bias in this as I am lucky enough to be in San Diego time to time and can go to Wat Metta to be with Ajahn Geoff at his Wat. While there, I have directly observed the quality of the young monks that he supervises, and the high quality of the lay people from around the world that come to stay and learn from him. I see how warm and close he is to the Thai people that come to the Wat; I'm amazed when he gives a detailed Dhamma talk in English, and then gives the talk in Thai. His Dhamma talks are serious and detailed, very much the way they are presented on youtube, but in fairness there's a real friendliness to his personality that one doesn't always see. The level of Vinaya at his Wat is unsurpassed, and I have always been invited to take ( for no charge) his books for my own study.

I've read sometimes some criticism of him from "scholars" in ivory (or cardboard) towers who claim he teaches an eternalist "atman" doctrine. He does not, of course, and one needs to study his writings on anatta to understand the strategy based positions he takes he takes on anatta, anicca, kamma, etc. I sometimes feel that there are mice in the Buddhist academic circles that feel the need to test the noble elephant by chewing on his toes, if only to raise their own anonymous profiles. I haven't always agreed with him...on the issue of Bhikkhuni ordination I felt he, like a lawyer for the Thai Sangha, took a traditional position in a legal brief against the ordinations that was trumped by the need for a more expansive scholarship on this issue and a touch of compassion. Even if he was right hyper-technically, the time had come to argue the position from the more compassionate side of the question.

I feel that we are lucky that we occupy the planet during his tenure teaching...there have been many decades in the west where the level of teaching has been lacking, fraudulent or abysmal. I feel we are very fortunate to have people like Ajahn Geoff, Bhikkhu Bodhi, and a select few others doing translations and explanations of the Pali Canon, the Dhamma, and making the world of the Buddha's Dhamma accessible and understandable.

Maybe he's not everyone's cup of tea, but imagine what the Dhamma landscape would look like without his presence and scholarship. Imagine if he'd stayed in Thailand, where he probably would have liked to, had he not been suggested to come to California and start, with another senior abbot, Wat Metta.
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby suriyopama » Mon Dec 16, 2013 3:46 am

BuddhaSoup wrote:I feel that we are lucky that we occupy the planet during his tenure teaching...there have been many decades in the west where the level of teaching has been lacking, fraudulent or abysmal. I feel we are very fortunate to have people like Ajahn Geoff, Bhikkhu Bodhi, and a select few others doing translations and explanations of the Pali Canon, the Dhamma, and making the world of the Buddha's Dhamma accessible and understandable.


:clap:

I've never meet him personally, but I consider him to be my teacher. All his mp3 talks and the free books they sent to me from California to Bangkok are a gift to this world.
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Re: Discussion about The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby fivebells » Mon Dec 16, 2013 4:07 am

I'm pretty sure he didn't want to stay in Thailand. I think I read that he refused to head Ajaan Fuang's monastery, because he knew his race meant he would always be an outsider there.
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby Spiny Norman » Mon Dec 16, 2013 10:01 am

fivebells wrote:Yes, if there are any contexts where I'm making people uncomfortable by raving about Thanissaro specifically, I'd like to know so I can avoid doing that.


I don't think there's anything wrong with a bit of raving. ;)
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby manas » Tue Dec 17, 2013 12:57 am

Spiny Norman wrote:
fivebells wrote:Yes, if there are any contexts where I'm making people uncomfortable by raving about Thanissaro specifically, I'd like to know so I can avoid doing that.


I don't think there's anything wrong with a bit of raving. ;)


I think it is natural and healthy that we feel special reverence for our particular Dhamma teachers, whoever they they may be. So long we also understand that others will feel the same about theirs, and we don't play oneupmanship, it's fine. Our teachers make the effort to teach and explain the Dhamma to us, which is not an easy task. It is not just by our own effort that we grow in understanding; it is also very much in dependence upon being taught.

:anjali:
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Re: Discussion about The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby chownah » Tue Dec 17, 2013 2:57 am

In what way is it healthy? Seems to me that there is a big downside to this reverence to a self and I find it difficult to see an upside.
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Re: Discussion about The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Dec 17, 2013 3:47 am

Having confidence in a teacher does seem important:
MN 95 wrote:“When he has investigated him [a prospective teacher] and has seen that he is purified from states based on [greed, hatred, or] delusion, then he places faith in him; filled with faith he visits him and pays respect to him; having paid respect to him, he gives ear; when he gives ear, he hears the Dhamma; having heard the Dhamma, he memorises it and examines the meaning of the teachings he has memorised; when he examines their meaning, he gains a reflective acceptance of those teachings; when he has gained a reflective acceptance of those teachings, zeal springs up; when zeal has sprung up, he applies his will; having applied his will, he scrutinises; having scrutinised, he strives; resolutely striving, he realises with the body the supreme truth and sees it by penetrating it with wisdom. In this way, Bhāradvāja, there is the discovery of truth; in this way one discovers truth; in this way we describe the discovery of truth. But as yet there is no final arrival at truth.”
http://suttacentral.net/mn95/en/

:anjali:
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Re: Discussion about The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby Buckwheat » Wed Dec 18, 2013 7:30 am

chownah wrote:In what way is it healthy? Seems to me that there is a big downside to this reverence to a self and I find it difficult to see an upside.
chownah


My reverence is not for the self. It is for the kamma.
Sotthī hontu nirantaraṃ - May you forever be well.
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