The Quotable Thanissaro

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
dhammapal
Posts: 1746
Joined: Sun Nov 01, 2009 9:23 am
Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Fri Feb 23, 2018 4:52 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:[The Buddha] noted, you can’t see all the results of actions here in this lifetime. Some people say, “Everything I’ve seen in life is enough to convince me that kamma works.” Well, No, it’s not. There are plenty of people who do all kinds of horrible unskillful things, yet they’re still alive. They thrive. The Buddha has a long list of people who thrive because they kill, steal, engage in illicit sex, lie, or take intoxicants. They do it with the right people and they do it in the right way to please someone in power, so they actually get rewarded by society in one way or another [SN42:13]. But as the Buddha commented, those are only the short-term consequences. You’ve got to take the long-term consequences into consideration as well.
From: Rebirth is Relevant by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

dhammapal
Posts: 1746
Joined: Sun Nov 01, 2009 9:23 am
Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Sat Feb 24, 2018 4:53 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:When you focus on breathing, it’s not just the air coming in and out of the lungs. It’s a sensation of energy that flows through the whole body, and you’re sitting in the middle of this vast breathing process that affects every nerve, every muscle. The whole experience of your body is related to the breath. The more you can perceive the breath in that way, the easier it is to settle down. And the easier it is to stay settled down, working on what the Buddha calls the enlarged mind — mahaggatam cittam — an awareness that’s all around. That kind of awareness is what allows you to see things for what they are. It’s the foundation for the vipassana side of jhana practice. In other words, the Buddha doesn’t say to stop doing jhana in order to start doing vipassana. He just says to learn how to look at the jhana in a different way, as a process of fabrication, how it’s put together.
From: Things as They've Come to Be by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

dhammapal
Posts: 1746
Joined: Sun Nov 01, 2009 9:23 am
Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Thu Mar 01, 2018 7:32 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:Realize that you don’t have to straighten out the world before you’re going to be able to gain Awakening or before you’re going to be able to sit down and meditate. The principle of karma is at work here. Often, when people have made up their minds to straighten out the world, the things they do to straighten out the world tend to get very unskillful and they end up making things worse. They don’t like other people’s greed, anger, and delusion, yet in the course of trying to straighten them out, they inflict them with their own greed, anger, and delusion. They simply compound the problem.

So your only responsibility to the world is to focus on doing what’s skillful. That’s all you have to take care of. As for the working out of everybody else’s karma, that will work out on its own without your having to get involved. Just make sure that your own present karma is skillful.

One thing you can do that’s skillful right now is to allow the mind to settle down with the breath. There’s no unfinished business with other people that you’ve got to take care of right now. Your unfinished business is to see how skillful you can be in the way you direct your mind, for if you want true happiness this is what you’ve got to do. You’re not going to find true happiness by straightening out the world, but you can find true happiness by straightening out the mind. Doing skillful things, saying skillful things, thinking skillful things: This is how your world is going to become a better world.
From: A Load of Straw by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

dhammapal
Posts: 1746
Joined: Sun Nov 01, 2009 9:23 am
Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Fri Mar 02, 2018 6:40 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:This is where the real things are happening. The cause of suffering is not in the books. The cessation of suffering is not in the books. The words are there; the actuality’s right here. And it’s only by giving full attention to developing the path, full attention to the breath right here, that you’re going to see through to the actual truths the Buddha talked. After all, he didn’t learn from books; he learned from his own experience. And his teachings are simply pointers to get us to look at our own experience and be willing to learn new things.
From: Dhamma Books & the Actuality by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

dhammapal
Posts: 1746
Joined: Sun Nov 01, 2009 9:23 am
Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Mon Mar 12, 2018 10:56 pm

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:That attitude of giving up on consuming the world because you say, “Well, it’s not permanent, and I’m not permanent, so I might as well give up looking for happiness”: That’s basically saying that there’s no true happiness to be found through fabricated things, so just give up on the whole idea of happiness and just be equanimous. That’s defeat.

As the Buddha said, though, one of the names for the noble eightfold path is unexcelled victory in battle. You battle the ignorance that’s been guiding your hunger, and you come out with something much better. You’ve learned that you can use the processes of fabrication to create a path that leads to something unfabricated. And that’s genuine victory.
From: Train Your Hunger (The Sea Squirt) by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

dhammapal
Posts: 1746
Joined: Sun Nov 01, 2009 9:23 am
Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Wed Mar 14, 2018 4:04 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:Each time you find the mind wandering off and you bring it back, that’s strengthening a very essential skill — the skill to get your mind off a bad topic and bring it back to a good one. Even though this may happen many times, the fact that you’re able to come back many times is a good sign. At the same time, you’re also developing the observer inside, what in some places they call meta consciousness — the ability to watch your own mind, to observe your own mind, and not get sucked into all of its stories and moods. The moods and the stories are one thing, but your awareness is something else. Each time you pull out of a thought world, you strengthen that sense of the separate observer. And that’s a very useful skill as you go through the day.
From: The Heart to Keep Going by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

dhammapal
Posts: 1746
Joined: Sun Nov 01, 2009 9:23 am
Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Fri Mar 16, 2018 4:35 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:You do have choices as to how to act, and that different actions have different consequences, based on the quality of the intention behind the action. So you want to be careful about how you act. That’s the essence of right view right there. It doesn’t require that you be Buddhist in order to believe it. I’ve run into some nominal Buddhists who thought that their actions were totally determined by their genes, which means that deep down inside they don’t feel that they’re responsible for what they do. It’s hard to live with someone who thinks like that. If you want to live together, you have to admit, “I do make choices and my choices are going to have consequences, so I’d better be careful.” As long as everybody shares that view together, we can live with one another.
From: What We Have in Common by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

dhammapal
Posts: 1746
Joined: Sun Nov 01, 2009 9:23 am
Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Sun Mar 18, 2018 4:38 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:Now we come to the topic of what meditation can do for you as you face serious illness and death. This is an area where the media engage both in over-estimation and under-estimation. On the one hand, there are books that tell you that all illness comes from your mind, and you simply have to straighten out your mind and you'll get well. Once a young woman, about 24, suffering from lung cancer, came to visit my monastery, and she asked me what I thought of these books. I told her that there are some cases where illness comes from purely mental causes, in which case meditation can cure it, but there are also cases where it comes from physical causes, and no amount of meditation can make it go away. If you believe in karma, there are some diseases that come from present karma — your state of mind right now — and others that come from past karma. If it's a present-karma disease, meditation might be able to make it go away. If it's a past-karma disease, the most you can hope from meditation is that it can help you live with the illness and pain without suffering from it.

At the same time, if you tell ill people that they are suffering because their minds are in bad shape, and that it's entirely up to them to straighten out their minds if they want to get well, you're laying an awfully heavy burden on them, right at the time when they're feeling weak, miserable, helpless and abandoned to begin with. When I came to this point, the woman smiled and said that she agreed with me. As soon as she had been diagnosed with cancer, her friends had given her a whole slew of books on how to will illness away, and she said that if she had believed in book-burning she would have burned them all by now. I personally know a lot of people who believe that the state of their health is an indication of their state of mind, which is fine and good when they're feeling well. As soon as they get sick, though, they feel that it's a sign that they're failures in meditation, and this sets them into a tailspin.
From: Using Meditation to Deal with Pain, Illness & Death by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

dhammapal
Posts: 1746
Joined: Sun Nov 01, 2009 9:23 am
Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Fri Mar 23, 2018 10:20 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:The multi-lifetime perspective offered by right view, along with its explanation that the results of actions sometimes take more than one lifetime to ripen, serves to remind you that even in times of difficulty and hardship — when it seems that holding to right speech and right action would put you at a disadvantage in terms of your wealth and survival — it’s better to sacrifice your current well-being for the sake of long-term well-being. Especially during times of hardship, when you’re threatened with death, it’s important to be mindful of three passages from the Canon:

1) the Buddha’s statement in AN5:130 that loss in terms of relatives, wealth, and disease do not lead to rebirth in the lower realms, but that loss in terms of view and virtue do;

2) his statement that you protect yourself by following right action and right speech (SN3:5), whereas if you steal and kill you leave yourself unprotected; and

3) his statement that, in observing the principles of right speech and right action in all situations, you give universal safety to others — at least from your quarter — and will ultimately share in that universal safety yourself (AN8:39).

These reflections show why rebirth is such an important part of the working hypothesis provided by mundane right view: Without this multi-life perspective, it’s all too easy to rationalize engaging in wrong speech and action if you feel that your survival depends on it. With this perspective, you can maintain your resolve to stick with right speech and right action all the way to the end of life.
From: Right Speech & Right Action by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

dhammapal
Posts: 1746
Joined: Sun Nov 01, 2009 9:23 am
Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Sun Mar 25, 2018 8:39 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:When the Buddha said that his job was done, this is what he meant. There were still pains in the body, there were still issues in life, but the mind no longer had to suffer because of them. That’s where Awakening makes a permanent difference, once and for all. We hear over and over again that, because of the principle of impermanence, even Awakening must be impermanent, but that’s not true. The Buddha didn’t say that everything is impermanent, only that conditioned things are impermanent. And even on the conditioned level, it’s possible to make irrevocable changes. This is why training the mind is so worthwhile. With practice, we can cut through the fetters that keep us bound to suffering so that they’ll never bind us ever again.
From: The Knife of Discernment by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

dhammapal
Posts: 1746
Joined: Sun Nov 01, 2009 9:23 am
Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Tue Mar 27, 2018 11:18 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:The Buddha didn’t have much positive to say about pema, or love. There was a time when a group of Brahmans who had suddenly gotten faith in the Buddha came early one morning, getting ready to prepare food for the Buddha and the monks as they came out for their alms round. The Brahmans were making a huge racket, and the Buddha asked the monk, Nagita, who was attending him at the time, “Nagita, what’s making all that racket out there like a bunch of fish mongers?” And Nagita said, “Oh those are Brahmans who have new faith in the Buddha.” And the Buddha said, “I want nothing to do with them.”

I’ve forgotten Nagita’s precise words, but he said something to the effect of, “Please be kind. Their faith is new.”

And the Buddha said again, “I want nothing to do with them.” He added, “What do you get out of food? You get excrement. What do you get out of love? The mind gets altered and you suffer pain, sorrow, grief, and despair.”

There’s another passage where the Buddha talked about how closely intertwined love and hate are. If you love someone, then you’re also going to love the people who are good to that person, regardless of whether they’re good people or not. Or if they’re bad to the person you love, you’re going to hate them regardless of whether they’re right or not. If people are good to someone you hate, you’re going to hate them. And if they’re bad to someone you hate, you’re going to love them, regardless of whether they’re right or wrong. So your love is an unreliable guide to how you should skillfully judge people or relate to people.
From: Unsentimental Goodwill by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

dhammapal
Posts: 1746
Joined: Sun Nov 01, 2009 9:23 am
Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Mon Apr 02, 2018 2:34 pm

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:As Ajaan Suwat used to say, "We normally take our cravings as our friends and our pains as our enemies. We should switch that around. Learn to look at pain as your friend, and craving as your enemy." The craving is what's really causing all the problems. The pain is just there to teach you something. Of course, it's a difficult friend. Some people are easy to be friends with; you can get along with them with no problem at all. Others are difficult. Pain is definitely a difficult friend, but one worth cultivating. Still, because it's difficult, you have to go about it the right way.

This is why, when we start meditating, the Buddha doesn't have us focus immediately on the pain. He says to focus on the breath instead, because whatever pain is associated with the breath — and it tends to be subtle, but it is there — is something you can manage, something you can deal with. He gives you the breath as your tool for dealing with the pain. So when you're aware of pain, don't yet let your primary focus be on the pain. Keep your focus on the breath. In other words, get used to being acquainted with the breath first, because that's the person who'll introduce you to pain properly. It's like meeting any important person: You first have to get to know certain well-connected friends who can introduce you to that person. And that's the way it is with pain: You have to know the breath first, for it's your well-connected friend.
From: An Introduction to Pain by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

dhammapal
Posts: 1746
Joined: Sun Nov 01, 2009 9:23 am
Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Wed Apr 04, 2018 8:19 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:We tend to think of wisdom as something that comes at the very end of the practice: those short, pointed statements that come one per page, with wide margins, in books about wisdom. But to really develop wisdom, you have to develop a pragmatic approach to how you’re going to get things to work in the mind and how you’re going to get yourself motivated. This is why so many of the Thai ajaans were people of few words, but their words were sharp and pointed. They had honed things down to what works. What ways of thinking work? What ways of motivating themselves work? You go right for the jugular immediately, then you get down to work. That’s an important part of wisdom and discernment.
From: Strengthening Concentration by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

dhammapal
Posts: 1746
Joined: Sun Nov 01, 2009 9:23 am
Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Fri Apr 06, 2018 3:28 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:You could translate the term pañña as wisdom, but that has an entirely different connotation. I remember the first year when I was practicing with Ajaan Fuang. He kept saying, "Use your pañña," which is both the Pali word and the Thai word. At the time all I knew was that pañña is wisdom, so I told him, "I don’t have any pañña." He said, "Of course you do. If you’re a human being, you’ve got some." I began to realize maybe he was talking about something else besides wisdom. And I finally realized it was discernment: seeing distinctions, being able to tease things out.
From: Discernment by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

dhammapal
Posts: 1746
Joined: Sun Nov 01, 2009 9:23 am
Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Sun Apr 08, 2018 4:11 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:There were many cases in my time with Ajaan Fuang – and you read about other Thai ajaans saying the same thing – that people can have right views, but the way they hold on to them, the rightness is for the sake of wrongness. You notice this in two ways. One is using the wrong teaching at the wrong time. There are teachings on not-self, and there are teachings on self. You have to know: When do you use teachings on self, and when do you use teachings on not-self? If you get very doctrinaire, the only real truth is the not-self. And that quickly turns into, “There is no self,” which raises all kinds of questions and all kinds of problems. The teachings were not meant to be problems; they were meant to be tools.
From: The Wrong Uses of Right by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Garrib and 86 guests