Practioners of Thanisarro's Meditation Method - What Is Different?

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ieee23
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Practioners of Thanisarro's Meditation Method - What Is Different?

Post by ieee23 » Mon Jul 10, 2017 8:30 pm

Thanisarro Bhikkhu seems to have a very different idea of what mindfulness mediation is from other Buddhist meditation teachers.

I would be interested to read accounts from people who regularly practice the method Thanisarro Bhikkhu advocates for what they do differently from what you might learn at a Vihara or a Wat.
Whatever a bhikkhu frequently thinks and ponders upon, that will become the inclination of his mind. - MN 19

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bodom
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Re: Practioners of Thanisarro's Meditation Method - What Is Different?

Post by bodom » Mon Jul 10, 2017 9:08 pm

Hi Lee

I practice in accordance with Ṭhānissaro's instructions. Would you mind sharing what those differences you believe might entail?

:namaste:
To study is to know the texts,
To practice is to know your defilements,
To attain the goal is to know and let go.

- Ajahn Lee Dhammadharo


With no struggling, no thinking,
the mind, still,
will see cause and effect
vanishing in the Void.
Attached to nothing, letting go:
Know that this is the way
to allay all stress.

- Upasika Kee Nanayan

befriend
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Re: Practioners of Thanisarro's Meditation Method - What Is Different?

Post by befriend » Tue Jul 11, 2017 12:59 pm

I'm curious if thannisaro bhikkhu teaches awareness of sounds sights smells thoughts feelings as a path to liberation.
Take care of mindfulness and mindfulness will take care of you.

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bodom
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Re: Practioners of Thanisarro's Meditation Method - What Is Different?

Post by bodom » Tue Jul 11, 2017 1:29 pm

befriend wrote:I'm curious if thannisaro bhikkhu teaches awareness of sounds sights smells thoughts feelings as a path to liberation.
I'm not sure I follow your question befriend.
Ṭhānissaro teaches the eightfold path to liberation. Awareness of the senses would be included under right mindfulness.

On the Path
http://www.dhammatalks.org/Archive/Writ ... n0001.html

:namaste:
To study is to know the texts,
To practice is to know your defilements,
To attain the goal is to know and let go.

- Ajahn Lee Dhammadharo


With no struggling, no thinking,
the mind, still,
will see cause and effect
vanishing in the Void.
Attached to nothing, letting go:
Know that this is the way
to allay all stress.

- Upasika Kee Nanayan

befriend
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Joined: Thu Jun 09, 2011 11:39 am

Re: Practioners of Thanisarro's Meditation Method - What Is Different?

Post by befriend » Tue Jul 11, 2017 1:40 pm

it seems like he teaches jhana to attain a higher happiness as a vehicle to nibbana as opposed to bare attention as a vehicle to nibbana I have only read small parts of his essays in the last two days so I may be impressively incorrect.
Take care of mindfulness and mindfulness will take care of you.

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bodom
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Re: Practioners of Thanisarro's Meditation Method - What Is Different?

Post by bodom » Tue Jul 11, 2017 2:22 pm

befriend wrote:it seems like he teaches jhana to attain a higher happiness as a vehicle to nibbana as opposed to bare attention as a vehicle to nibbana I have only read small parts of his essays in the last two days so I may be impressively incorrect.
Yes this would be correct. After all Jhana is an indispensable part of the path. The Buddha would not have included it in the eightfold path if it was. As the Buddha says if one does not experience the happiness of jhana while on the path one will be tempted to return to sense pleasures:
"Even though a disciple of the noble ones has clearly seen as it actually is with right discernment that sensuality is of much stress, much despair, & greater drawbacks, still — if he has not attained a rapture & pleasure apart from sensuality, apart from unskillful mental qualities, or something more peaceful than that[4] — he can be tempted by sensuality. But when he has clearly seen as it actually is with right discernment that sensuality is of much stress, much despair, & greater drawbacks, and he has attained a rapture & pleasure apart from sensuality, apart from unskillful mental qualities, or something more peaceful than that, he cannot be tempted by sensuality.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

:namaste:
To study is to know the texts,
To practice is to know your defilements,
To attain the goal is to know and let go.

- Ajahn Lee Dhammadharo


With no struggling, no thinking,
the mind, still,
will see cause and effect
vanishing in the Void.
Attached to nothing, letting go:
Know that this is the way
to allay all stress.

- Upasika Kee Nanayan

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Pseudobabble
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Re: Practioners of Thanisarro's Meditation Method - What Is Different?

Post by Pseudobabble » Tue Jul 11, 2017 4:11 pm

I use (mainly) Thanissaro's techniques (Ajahn Fuang's, Ajahn Lee's). I find they are very effective, if described a little oddly.

It took me a long, long time to work out what this 'breath energy' business is, but now that I understand what it refers to, it makes a lot of sense, and is a great method.


I think he makes a great, and very helpful effort to relate the Dhamma to contemporary life, and strikes a very nice balance between being uncompromising on principles, while recognising the imperfection of human beings. He is an interesting blend of orthodox and radical - for example, the Four Frames of Reference (conventionally, Foundations of Mindfulness), and his book The Shape of Suffering, where he likens Conditional Origination to a complex system of feedback loops.

His Dhamma talks can seem somewhat meandering and pointless, but I often find something that I heard from him days before strikes me right at the moment when it's needed.

I wish I lived near Wat Metta, as he seems, in terms of attitude, like he would be a superb Dhamma and meditation teacher.
"Does Master Gotama have any position at all?"

"A 'position,' Vaccha, is something that a Tathagata has done away with. What a Tathagata sees is this: 'Such is form, such its origination, such its disappearance; such is feeling, such its origination, such its disappearance; such is perception...such are fabrications...such is consciousness, such its origination, such its disappearance.'" - Aggi-Vacchagotta Sutta


'Dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return.' - Genesis 3:19

'Some fart freely, some try to hide and silence it. Which one is correct?' - Saegnapha

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Re: Practioners of Thanisarro's Meditation Method - What Is Different?

Post by Alexander____ » Tue Jul 11, 2017 6:49 pm

Pseudobabble wrote: It took me a long, long time to work out what this 'breath energy' business is, but now that I understand what it refers to, it makes a lot of sense, and is a great method.
I too have found this and still am slightly uncomfortable with it.

I do find Thanissaro's teachings immensely useful and inspiring.

Would you care to share how you have grown to understand this concept?

I find the more I practice it makes more sense, but coming from a medical background I still struggle to come to terms with it!

Thanks.

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Re: Practioners of Thanisarro's Meditation Method - What Is Different?

Post by Pseudobabble » Tue Jul 11, 2017 7:55 pm

Alexander____ wrote: I too have found this and still am slightly uncomfortable with it.

I do find Thanissaro's teachings immensely useful and inspiring.

Would you care to share how you have grown to understand this concept?

I find the more I practice it makes more sense, but coming from a medical background I still struggle to come to terms with it!

Thanks.
Yes, I had difficulty with it because I am also scientifically minded.

The way I understand it, which has proven useful for practising, is as 'inner-body-feeling-emotions'. I hope that makes some kind of sense. It's more of a phenomenological approach. When you breathe, there are, often quite subtle, 'feeling-emotions'. Shallow, tight breathing produces anxious feeling-emotions, while deep, slow, long breathing produces a relaxing feeling. And the converse course of action also works, so generating good feeling-emotions produces relaxed breathing.

If you look at the books of Thanissaro's teachers, and their teachers (I'm referring primarily to Ajahns Lee and Mun), you'll see that they often use the word 'heart', where we would probably say 'mind' (to translate mano'), which got me thinking. There's also the fact that emotions are classified as mental states, for the purposes of satipatthana. This says to me that our hard definition between mind and emotion (head and heart), is not really the correct context to understand these teachings (or perhaps the Buddha's).

Anyway, seeing mental states/emotions/feelings as somewhat less sharply distinct from one another, and seeing that they affect the breath, and that the breath affects them, means that the breath can be an effective tool for manipulating one's mental-and-emotional states. I've found this useful in generating concentration, as long as I don't try too hard. Finding a pleasant feeling inside, then focussing on it, allowing the breathing pattern to fall in line, and then noticing how the feeling and the state of relaxation are mutually reinforcing, so long as you keep focussing on the breath, and its corresponding pleasant feeling.

This feedback loop of pleasure and breath is very delicate and sensitive to begin with though, so distractions can destabilise it, as can any attempts to force any part of it. I spent a while trying to force it, because Thanissaro emphasises the active aspect of the process, but I've found recently that it really only needs careful attention, and when you notice a distraction, the intention to remain with the pleasant feeling is enough to ward off the destabilisation. This method brings me to access concentration, and twice to what I think is jhana. The key has been unforced awareness of the 'breath-energy' as inner-feeling which correlates with/responds to breathing pattern.

I hope that is helpful. Happy to try to reframe it in different terms if you like.
"Does Master Gotama have any position at all?"

"A 'position,' Vaccha, is something that a Tathagata has done away with. What a Tathagata sees is this: 'Such is form, such its origination, such its disappearance; such is feeling, such its origination, such its disappearance; such is perception...such are fabrications...such is consciousness, such its origination, such its disappearance.'" - Aggi-Vacchagotta Sutta


'Dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return.' - Genesis 3:19

'Some fart freely, some try to hide and silence it. Which one is correct?' - Saegnapha

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bodom
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Re: Practioners of Thanisarro's Meditation Method - What Is Different?

Post by bodom » Tue Jul 11, 2017 8:11 pm

Ṭhānissaro's advice for anyone who has trouble with the idea of 'breath energy':
A third common problem is an inability to feel breath sensations in different parts
of the body. This is often a problem of perception: The breath sensations are there, but
you don’t recognize them as such. Part of your mind may think that it’s impossible for
there to be breath energies flowing through the body. If that’s the case, treat this as
an exercise in imagination: Allow yourself to imagine that breathing energy can flow
through the nerves, and imagine it flowing in some of the patterns recommended in
the basic instructions. Or imagine it flowing in the opposite directions. At some point,
you will actually start to feel the movement of energy in one part of the body or
another, and then this will no longer be an exercise in imagination.

In the meantime, survey the body and relax any patterns of tension you may feel
in its various parts. Start with the hands and work up the arms. Then start with the
feet and work up through the legs, the back, the neck, and into the head. Then do the
front of the torso. The more relaxed the body, the more easily the breath energy will
flow, and the more likely that you’ll be able to sense the flow.
http://www.dhammatalks.org/ebook_index.html

I struggled for a long time with tensions building up in my body due to anxiety. When I would sit down to meditate I would notice alot of areas in my body completely constricted especially in the chest and abdomen. It made breathing really hard an laborious during meditation. It was exhausting and made meditation a chore.

When I finally came across Ṭhānissaro's instructions it was really a revelation to be able to see how I could finally release these 'knots' of tension and allow the breath to flow freely through them. It really did feel like trapped 'energy' being released. For me the idea of breath energies and working with them is nothing more than releasing these areas of tensions and allowing a sense of relaxation to spread through and permeate the whole body. Nothing complicated about it.

:namaste:
To study is to know the texts,
To practice is to know your defilements,
To attain the goal is to know and let go.

- Ajahn Lee Dhammadharo


With no struggling, no thinking,
the mind, still,
will see cause and effect
vanishing in the Void.
Attached to nothing, letting go:
Know that this is the way
to allay all stress.

- Upasika Kee Nanayan

Bakmoon
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Re: Practioners of Thanisarro's Meditation Method - What Is Different?

Post by Bakmoon » Tue Jul 11, 2017 10:49 pm

ieee23 wrote:Thanisarro Bhikkhu seems to have a very different idea of what mindfulness mediation is from other Buddhist meditation teachers.

I would be interested to read accounts from people who regularly practice the method Thanisarro Bhikkhu advocates for what they do differently from what you might learn at a Vihara or a Wat.
Thanisarro Bhikkhu teaches a form of Anapanasati, and Anapanasati is probably the most commonly practiced form of meditation you would come across if you were to walk into a Vihara or Wat that wasn't training in a specific tradition.

The main difference is that in his approach, there is more emphasis placed on exercising control over feelings and the breath. Not the rigid control of forcing the breath in a certain way, but rather using mindfulness and observation to come to know the breath and then subtly adjust the breath to make it more pleasant, so it produces rapture and joy.
The non-doing of any evil,
The performance of what's skillful,
The cleansing of one's own mind:
This is the Buddhas' teaching.

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Re: Practioners of Thanisarro's Meditation Method - What Is Different?

Post by Alexander____ » Wed Jul 12, 2017 12:18 pm

Thank you for those explanations. They confirm some of my experiences.

I think I also get a bit hung up on perceiving some of the sensations I experience probably being associated with blood flow rather than the breath itself. Then of course the changes in blood flow associated with inspiration and expiration. Then I get frustrated when letting this go and considering certain sensations associated with the breath energy that Thanissaro describes. Of course they're all perceptions in the end but learning which are useful perceptions for the path is important and which ones to let go of.

binocular
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Re: Practioners of Thanisarro's Meditation Method - What Is Different?

Post by binocular » Wed Jul 12, 2017 4:37 pm

befriend wrote:it seems like he teaches jhana to attain a higher happiness as a vehicle to nibbana as opposed to bare attention as a vehicle to nibbana I have only read small parts of his essays in the last two days so I may be impressively incorrect.
Search ATI by the keyword "bare attention" and see what Ven. Thanissaro says about it.

E.g.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... ening.html
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... fined.html
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... ulness.pdf
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/stud ... tions.html

chownah
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Re: Practioners of Thanisarro's Meditation Method - What Is Different?

Post by chownah » Thu Jul 13, 2017 2:58 am

Alexander____ wrote:Thank you for those explanations. They confirm some of my experiences.

I think I also get a bit hung up on perceiving some of the sensations I experience probably being associated with blood flow rather than the breath itself. Then of course the changes in blood flow associated with inspiration and expiration. Then I get frustrated when letting this go and considering certain sensations associated with the breath energy that Thanissaro describes. Of course they're all perceptions in the end but learning which are useful perceptions for the path is important and which ones to let go of.
I think you are bringing up a good point here. We all associate certain feelings with certain "actions" or certain "things" occuring. Your realization that it is just your association which makes certain feelings "blood flow" is just your association or perhaps more understandable in terms of the dhamma it is your fabrication. My view is that when we breathe in and out and we think we feel the air flowing in and out we are just associating certain bodily feelings with an "action"....in fact I think that we use the feeling as a basis for our fabrication of the idea that there is air going in and out....but in fact all we are feeling is bodily sensations. This is sort of how dependent origination works I think: we associate the "feelings" we get from the six senses and through ignorance interpret these as being of external cause when it is probably better to just know that they are just bodily sensations. If we know that they are just bodily sensations it helps us to lose our attachments to these things which are the basis for our deluded sense of self.
chownah

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Re: Practioners of Thanisarro's Meditation Method - What Is Different?

Post by ieee23 » Thu Jul 13, 2017 3:17 am

bodom wrote:Hi Lee
ieee23 not Lee.

I practice in accordance with Ṭhānissaro's instructions. Would you mind sharing what those differences you believe might entail?

:namaste:
That is what I would like to find out.

A guest teacher at my Vihara did a few guided meditations in that regard. I've only had time to skim TB's meditation book. It seems very heavy on visualization, almost yogic, so I am curious as to what people who use TB's do.
Whatever a bhikkhu frequently thinks and ponders upon, that will become the inclination of his mind. - MN 19

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