The Quotable Thanissaro

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dhammapal
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Fri Jan 06, 2017 9:10 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:The Buddha once said that he got started on the right path of practice when he learned to observe his thinking, noticing which kinds of thoughts were skillful, which kinds were unskillful. In other words which kinds of thinking lead to harm, which kinds of thinking didn’t lead to harm. Notice that: He didn’t say he got on the path when he learned to stop thinking. He got on the path when he learned to observe his thinking and to see it as part of a causal process. This is important, because a lot of meditation has to do with thinking. There’s a popular misconception that meditation means not thinking at all. But if you look at all the descriptions of the noble eightfold path, you see that they all start with right view. Then they continue with right resolve. In other words they start with thinking: learning how to think in the right way.

This is why we have Dhamma talks. If thinking weren’t involved in the practice, if your views weren’t important in the practice, Dhamma talks wouldn’t serve any function. You’d have to teach by example by not saying anything at all. But meditation doesn’t work that way. You have to learn how to think in the right way as you come to meditation. This is a thinking cure.
From: The Thinking Cure by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Sat Jan 07, 2017 3:43 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:Try to notice when you look at something: Does your attention go flowing out? Do you lose your sense of the body? If you do, it's a sign that your looking isn't all that skillful. You want to be able to stay in the body as you look, as you listen, to maintain your sense of the breath energy throughout the body. If you can't, that's a sign either that you're looking for the purpose of forgetting the body — in other words, you're looking for the purpose of greed, anger, or delusion — or you're simply careless, and the sight, the sound, the smell, or the taste, whatever, happened to catch you off guard.

That's how most people look and listen and smell and taste and feel and think about things. They forget their inner center and suddenly find themselves centered outside, trying to get some pleasure from grabbing onto a sight or a sound and then elaborating on it — either to make it more attractive or to make it seem more meaningful than it actually is. If the mind is in a mood for a little bit of anger, you focus on the things that would provoke the anger and then you can elaborate on it, proliferate as much as you like.

Those are where our skills tend to be. We're great at proliferating. But if you think of input at the senses as a kind of food for the mind — which is how the Buddha sees it — you have to ask yourself: Are you preparing good food for the mind or junk food? Or poisonous food? That's the kind of cooking we're used to. We think we're cooking up great meals, but they can make us sick. So you've got to learn a new way to cook for the mind.
From: The Skill of Restraint by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

dhammapal
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Sun Jan 08, 2017 11:44 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:This sutta [MN 38] concerns a monk — Sāti, the Fisherman's Son — who refuses to heed the Buddha's care in treating all the elements of the process of wandering on from birth to birth as processes. Sāti states that, in his understanding of the Buddha's teachings, consciousness is the "what" that does the wandering on. His fellow monks and then the Buddha treat him and his erroneous view in a way that parallels the way they treat Ariṭṭha Formerly-of-the-Vulture-Killers in MN 22. First the narrator notes that the view is not merely wrong, but actually evil and pernicious: To adopt it would be to place an obstacle in one's path. The monks try, unsuccessfully, to dissuade Sāti from his view, after which they report the case to the Buddha. The Buddha calls Sāti into his presence, and after ascertaining that Sāti will not abandon his view even when reprimanded by the Buddha himself, he abandons Sāti as too recalcitrant to teach, and turns to cross-question the monks as to the relevant right view of how consciousness functions in the process leading to repeated birth.
From: Translator's Introduction to Mahatanhasankhaya Sutta: The Greater Craving-Destruction Discourse by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

dhammapal
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Mon Jan 09, 2017 7:30 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:to say “There is a self” is to side with the wrong view of eternalism. Here it’s important to note that the Buddha is not stating that all views of an existing self are eternalistic. As we will see, he is well aware of views claiming the existence of a self that is not eternal. However, the statement, “There is a self” conforms with eternalism in that it shares the same practical drawbacks as an eternalist view. It cannot be used as part of the strategy for putting an end to stress because, in holding to this sort of view, there is a double level of attachment: to the view itself, and to the objects the view identifies as self. This is why the Buddha so frequently deconstructed the view of an existing self in order to help his listeners advance along the path.
From: The Not-self Strategy by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Tue Jan 10, 2017 12:29 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:There’s a lot of talk nowadays. You look in the newspapers and seems like everything in the world is falling apart. And it is. So, what is there to accomplish? We train our minds. We’re good to one another, because that goodness isn’t erased by death. As the Buddha said, the beginning of wisdom is when you find someone who’s knowledgeable and ask that person, “What, when I do it, will lead to my long-term welfare and happiness?” That’s the question.

That question is, in the Buddha’s terms, an expression of appropriate attention. He has an interesting analysis of attention. He’s not talking about bare attention — just sitting there, watching things arise and pass away, as if you’re in a drugged state. To pay attention to life means to ask questions. Appropriate attention is when you start asking the right questions. And this is a good one to begin with: “What, when I do it, will lead to my long-term welfare and happiness?” “Long-term” here is important. That’s part of the wisdom. The other part of the wisdom is that happiness depends on your actions. You want long-term rather than short-term happiness; and you know it’s going to depend on what you do, what you say, what you think. From that principle, you can derive a lot of the Buddha’s teachings.
From: Living Honorably by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Thu Jan 12, 2017 9:00 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:This is called using your ingenuity. You encounter things you don’t like in the meditation? Okay, how do you work your way around them? How do you live with them? You’ve got a pain in some part of the body? Okay, you work around on it. You don’t focus directly on it. As you work with it, you begin to realize that the extent to which a pain has an impact on the mind has an awful lot to do with how you engage with it. It’s not just a brute fact that has nothing to do with your own involvement.

There are potentials coming in from your past karma, but you’ve also got your present karma. Make the most of that fact, so that even when you encounter situations you don’t like, whether in the meditation, your work, your family life, or your responsibilities around the monastery, see what you can do not to suffer around them.
From: The Positive Side of Heedfulness by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Fri Jan 13, 2017 9:22 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:And specifically, what you’re alert to in the present moment is what you’re doing. Always keep that in mind. That’s the bottom line. What are you doing right now? Even when you seem to be passive and just taking in sensory input, to what extent is the mind really passive? Is it just sitting there with images coming into the brain without your interpreting them, without your focusing your attention here as opposed to there? Of course not. You’re always doing things. You’re commenting on things. You’re highlighting some things and pushing other things into the background. Simply in looking at things or listening to things, your engagement with the senses is a two-way street: input is coming in, but also your shaping of that input is going out.
From: Alertness: What Are You Doing? by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Sun Jan 15, 2017 12:30 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:You could focus on all kinds of things that would make you depressed and make you discouraged in the practice. They may be perfectly true but they’re not right for you right here, right now. Those particular truths are not useful truths. They’re not worth talking about, not worth thinking about. Think instead about the things that are actually healing.

With a lot of truths about things outside, you never really know. For instance, there’s that whole issue: Does the world really exist outside the information we get through our senses? That’s one of those issues the Buddha said, “Don’t Go There.”

What we can know though is what we directly experience in terms of suffering and stress. Ideally, you know when the mind is suffering, you can tell when it’s not.
From: Truth as Medicine by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Sun Jan 15, 2017 10:57 pm

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:So, when you're given a practice — whether it's the precepts, or the contemplations that the Buddha recommends — it's not that you're going into denial, pretending that you don't want to break a precept, or pretending that you don't harbor feelings of ill will. These contemplations are meant more to raise the issue: Do you really believe that your actions are important? Do you really believe that it's important to act skillfully? Do you believe that your thoughts are important, that it's important to think skillfully? Take some time to probe into those questions, because they're central to your life. And don't let yourself get sucked in by the media out there. They'd rather that you not ask those questions, that you lead a very short-sighted life, so you'll be content just to buy their things.

So this is an act of resistance here. It's also an act of wisdom. When a particular reflection or contemplation brings up uncomfortable issues in the mind, realize that that's part of its purpose: to bring up those uncomfortable reactions, if they're there. If they're not there, you're fine. If they are there, you want to know.
From: Resistance by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Tue Jan 17, 2017 12:00 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:It’s not like we’re saying the body is bad and the mind is good. There’s something deeper than even the mind that we’re after. As the Buddha says, this "something" can be touched by the mind and it’s touched and seen at the body. The potential opening to it is always right here in the present moment where the mind and the body meet. Where you have an experience of the body right now: That’s where the experience of the deathless will come. As long as the mind has these issues around liking or disliking the body, it’s not going to be able to settle into the spot where it can touch and see that other dimension.
From: The Kindness of Body Contemplation by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Wed Jan 18, 2017 3:48 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:Remember: We’re not just sitting here trying to clone dispassion. We’re trying to figure out which things are helpful and we encourage ourselves to have a passion for them. As the Buddha said, you try to delight in developing skillful qualities and to delight in abandoning unskillful ones. Now, delight, of course, is something you’re going to put aside eventually. But for right now, it may be part of the luggage you need, so carry it with you. The path is something you have to fabricate, and fabrication comes from passion. So look at right view and right resolve and all the other factors of the path as things you want to get passionate about. You want to do these things really well.
From: A Passion for the Path by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Thu Jan 19, 2017 4:43 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:There is a tendency, when you get into deep stages of meditation, to think you’ve hit some ground of being, your true identity, or the true nature of things, whether it’s a sense of oneness, a sense of bright awareness, or a sense of interconnectedness where your ordinary sense of self gets harder and harder to detect. At that point, it’s very easy to think that you’ve hit some sort of metaphysical principle, some abstract quality or principle of being. But the Buddha says, No, look at it in terms of what you did to get there, what you’re doing to stay there. Continue looking at it as an action that’s going to have a result, that’s actually giving you results in the present.
From: What You Can Do by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Fri Jan 20, 2017 4:53 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:We're here to see where thinking goes and how to use our thinking in skillful ways. This is part of the training. It's like training for a marathon. Once you've made up your mind to run the marathon, you've got to deal with the thoughts in the mind that resist. Some of them you can simply push out of the way as being ludicrous or totally out of line with your real aspirations. Others you have to sit down with and work through. But the fact that you've made an aspiration is important. If you've decided that this is an aspiration you really want to hold to, you owe it to yourself to work through all of your resistance, because so many of us go through our lives aimlessly, without any kind of aspiration at all. Here, as we're meditating, we've got a big one: putting an end to suffering.

As the Buddha points out, in the course of training the mind you've got to learn to deal with skillful and unskillful thoughts — "skillful" meaning those that lead in the direction of putting an end to suffering; unskillful ones, those leading in the other direction. At least you've made it clear to yourself where you want to go. That, in and of itself, is an important accomplishment. Even if you haven't devoted yourself 100% in that direction, it's important at least that the issue is raised.
From: Resistance by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Fri Jan 20, 2017 10:25 pm

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:As for what you've heard about how the meditation is supposed to develop — even if you've had experiences in the past when it's developed in interesting ways — put all that aside for the time being. Don't let it clutter up your mind, because any progress in the meditation has to come from being very solidly focused on the present moment, fully intent on what you've got right here. If a lot of expectations are cluttering up your view, you're not going to see what you've got right here. Whatever progress you make won't be genuine.

So, as Ajaan Lee says, be willing to be dumb about the meditation. Sometimes this is called "beginner's mind," but for me it's always been more effective to think, "Be dumb about it." The "dumb" person is the one who sees when the emperor isn't wearing any clothes.

You may have heard a lot about meditation, but how much do you really know? You do know right now that the breath is coming in, you know it's going out. You know if your mind is with the breath or if it's wandered off. Focus on being really clear about what you know, what you're directly experiencing, as continuously as possible. The continual clarity is what actually creates the state of concentration you're looking for, the developed mindfulness you're hoping for. It starts with these incremental steps.

So, whether the results come fast or slow, be sure that at least you're getting the causes right. And they're simple: Be with the breath, all the way in, all the way out. Just this breath. And if the breath is uncomfortable, you can adjust it. You're not required to breathe in a particular way, and you're not required to refrain from influencing the breath. The mind is always going to have some influence on the breath, whether it's conscious or not, so it might as well be conscious. If you pretend that you're not influencing the breath, the influence goes underground. It's better to learn how to be open about the fact, to be sensitive to what's going on.

And this simple exercise, if you allow it to do its work, will bring the results you want. In fact, it will bring results better than you might expect. If you clutter up your meditation with your expectations, that's all you'll get: things that seem to fit in with your expectations. But if you allow it to be a little bit more open-ended, you create possibilities for other things to happen as well — often better things, more genuine.
From: Start Out Small by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Sun Jan 22, 2017 1:30 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:The Buddha's picture of your experience is not that you're simply a passive observer of things, commenting on them. In other words, it's not like watching a TV show. The TV show is a given, and you simply like it or dislike it or you're neutral about it. That's all. But that's not the Buddha's picture of experience. He says that you're actively engaged in shaping your experience all the time. In fact, the extent to which your intentions are shaping your experience goes a lot deeper and is a lot more radical than you might imagine. This is one of the insights of Awakening: how much your present intentions are needed for you to experience even the present moment. As the Buddha points out, all of the aggregates — form, feeling, perception, fabrication, and consciousness — have an element of intention in them.
From: Beyond Nature by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Sun Jan 22, 2017 11:08 pm

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:As we meditate we’re not training ourselves to be zombies or to be totally indifferent. We’re learning that there’s a time and a place to be interested in things, and a time and a place when the mind has to rest. And right now is a time and a place to rest. If you want to be curious, be curious about the breath. Keep your curiosity focused in here. Don’t let it go flashing out.
From: Wide-open Awareness by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Tue Jan 24, 2017 1:15 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:When you get outside of the [food] chain though, you don’t need anything from anyone, and you’re happy to give whatever you’ve got. That kind of giving becomes truly pure giving.

Some people think that the idea of a totally independent source of happiness is selfish, or a way of running away from the real world, but it’s not. How can it be selfish when you’re in a position that allows everything you do to be an act of giving? What exactly is it running away from?
From: Interconnectedness by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Thu Jan 26, 2017 8:40 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:I read somebody complaining that they had seen a passage where someone had said that jhana is necessary for awakening, and he said, “No, that can’t be the case. My teacher says you see your defilements most clearly when they’re really strong: strong lust, strong anger. That’s when you’re going to gain awakening.” That’s what he said, but where are you in relation to that anger, where are you in relation to that lust when you’ve allowed these things to grow strong? When they stir up the mind, you can’t see things clearly.

There has to be at least part of the mind that’s standing very still and watching whatever is happening, not the least bit stirred by those things. Otherwise you just slip along with them, accepting this as the normal way of the mind. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Part of the practice is learning that the mind at normalcy is not affected by those things. It’s a mind that’s been trained in line with the Buddha’s standards.
From: Accepting the Buddha's Standards by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Fri Jan 27, 2017 7:43 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:And after all it is your true happiness that you’re after here. It’s not like you’re being sucked into some brainless cult. You’re being asked to take your true happiness seriously, which you’d think people would do naturally. But they don’t. The culture mitigates against it, and a lot of our own internal dishonesty mitigates against it. So it’s going to take a while. It’s a complex process to undo these tendencies, to undo these habits, these obsessions that we’ve developed. It’s a full-day, full-lifetime process, but it’s worth it. Because you ask yourself, if you’re not giving yourself over to true happiness, what are you giving yourself to?
From: Feeding Your Attack Dogs by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Sat Jan 28, 2017 5:24 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:Now, fear is not always an unskillful emotion. I've had many psychotherapists talk to me about this. They're curious about the fact that when the Buddha lists the roots of unskillful behavior, there's greed, aversion, delusion - or passion, aversion, and delusion. Where's the fear? For so many of them, fear is the unskillful emotion. Well, that’s not necessarily the case. Actually, there are some good things to be afraid of.

Be afraid that you're going to do things unskillfully, be afraid you’re going to act in harmful ways. Be afraid of wasting your time – the time that could be devoted to developing the mind. Those kinds of fears come under what the Buddha calls ottappa - compunction or fear of wrong-doing. There's also the fear that comes with heedfulness: realizing that there are dangers out there and dangers in your own mind, and you've got to do something about them.

So fear isn't always unskillful. It's when the fear gets mixed up with the greed or aversion or delusion: That's when you got a problem.
From: Nurturing Your Inner Adult by Thanissaro Bhikkhu


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