The Quotable Thanissaro

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dhammapal
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Fri May 26, 2017 6:34 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:Use your imagination [while doing breath meditation] — not to wander away in fantasy worlds, but to explore some of the possibilities in the present moment. Try to think of some impossible ways of breathing and then try them — because you can learn a lot about your body that way: what’s really possible and what’s not. It’s like reading about quantum physics. Some of the things they’ve noticed in their experiments, as far as they can tell, can be explained only by allowing for the idea that certain particles go backwards in time. That explanation required a real leap of the imagination. There’s so much out there in the world that’s counter-intuitive. Your sense of the body here in the present moment has a lot of counter-intuitive potentials as well. If you only go with your normal intuition, that’s all you see: what you expect to see. See if you can surprise yourself with new ways of thinking about the breath.
From: Gladdening the Mind by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Sat May 27, 2017 7:16 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:These three qualities — ardency, alertness, and mindfulness — make you self-reliant, make you somebody you can depend on.

Because this is it. This is work that nobody else can do for you. We like to think, “Well, I’ve made a mess, maybe someone else will come and clean up the mess for me.” You made the mess, you’ve got to clean it up. You’re the one who’s created this tangle, you’re the one who has to untangle it.

No one else can make you skillful. They can teach you the basic principles; you keep those in mind; but then you have to use your own ardency, alertness, and mindfulness to take those basic principles and make them work for you.

Fortunately, these are qualities we all have. These are the qualities that the Buddha himself developed to gain awakening. And there’s no place where he said that he was any kind of special deva who had special qualities that nobody else had. These are all qualities that any human being can develop. You’re a human being. You can do it.

They talk also in the texts of people gaining awakening by being heedful, ardent, and resolute: terms that put a slightly different angle on the same issue. You keep in mind the fact that there are dangers in your mind. You’re ardent in trying to overcome them. And you’re resolute: You just keep coming back, coming back, coming back to fight your unskillful qualities. You don’t give up.

When you find something that works, you don’t get complacent. You watch, “Okay, this solution I made just now: Is there any danger around that solution? In what way do what seems to true also be false?”

You keep at this, checking things from all sides. In this way, you can survive the jungle of your own mind because you’re developing qualities you can depend on.
From: Resourceful by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Sun May 28, 2017 9:29 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:As the Buddha said, the beginning of wisdom is when you go to people who’ve found true happiness and you ask them: “What should I do that will lead to my long-term welfare and happiness?” Notice that: My. Long-term. Welfare and happiness. Those three categories are directly related to the three perceptions. The “my” is related to not-self; “long-term” is related to inconstancy; “welfare-and-happiness” is related to stress. The three perceptions act as ways of testing any happiness you find, to see if it measures up to the standards you’ve set. But they follow on the “what-should-I-do.” That has to come first.

In other words, as we look for happiness, we focus first on actions that don’t constitute ultimate happiness but can be used as the path: things like mindfulness, persistence, and concentration. At that stage, the Buddha doesn’t have us focus too much on these three characteristics. He has us focus primarily on the doing. As part of the doing, we hold on to other perceptions: the perception of breath, say, or the perception of whatever our meditation object is. We make that prominent. And we try to push that perception into a state of solid concentration — which means that we’re pushing it in the direction of making it constant and easeful, and getting it under our control.

In this way, we’re actually fighting the three characteristics as we try to bring the mind into concentration. We push to see how far we can find a happiness based on conditioned things.
From: Three Perceptions by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Mon May 29, 2017 5:18 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:I was one talking to someone who said that the natural position of your hand is not to grasp, it’s to let go. Therefore awakening is a very natural process. You let things simply relax, loosen your grasp, and you relax your way into nirvana. It’s a very strange image for the practice, for a hand that lets go permanently is a dead hand. And I have yet to see the Buddha describe it that way. The practice he described is one of effort. There’s that Thai idiom for meditation: “doing an effort.” And it’s not just a Thai idiom, it’s actually there in the Pali canon. You make an effort, you’re resolute, you’re ardent, heedful. Because you see the dangers all around, the sense of terror is what gives you your motivation. And you combine it with a sense of confidence that there is a way out and that this is it.
From: The Politics of Arising & Passing Away by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Wed May 31, 2017 11:57 pm

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:And when the present moment is full of distractions, don't think of the process of dealing with your distractions as getting in the way of where you want to go. If you see it simply as getting in the way, you're going to overlook it and try to push through it blindly. Instead, see it as, "This is the spot where the Awakening is going to happen, where the understanding is going to happen, and through the process of watching the breath, catching the mind as it wanders off, and bringing it back, //that's// where all the insights are going to arise." In other words, the problems in the present are not something you simply want to push your way through or get out of the way; they're something you want to look into — because the Buddha had an amazing insight about the present.
From: The Story behind Impatience by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Thu Jun 01, 2017 11:48 pm

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:There was once a young monk who was asked by a wanderer from another sect what the results of karma were and the monk said, “Stress.” Then he went back to the Buddha and asked him if he’d given the right answer and the Buddha said, “No. When asked about karma, you talk about how skillful karma leads to pleasure, how unskillful karma leads to pain.” Another one of the other monks piped up and said, “Well, wasn’t he thinking about the fact that all feelings are stressful?” And the Buddha replied, essentially, that was not the time or place for that teaching.

So, an important part of strategy is knowing which teachings to use when. And not jumping the gun or trying to skip over things.
From: A Noble Warrior's Path by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Fri Jun 02, 2017 7:28 pm

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:A while back, I was giving a talk to a group of people on kamma. They'd been meditating for quite a while, so I tried to make the point that an understanding of kamma really focuses your meditation in an important way. It helps focus you on the issue of what you're doing that's skillful and what you're doing that's not skillful, and realizing how much your "doing" does shape your experience.

They all gave me a blank look. Then I realized that they'd been taught that there is no such thing as skillful or unskillful, good or bad in the meditation. It's simply a question of hanging out in the present moment, squeezing as much non-conceptual intensity out of the present moment as you can — which is an idea the Buddha never advocated. That's not what we're here for. I mean, there will be times when you notice that being very mindful in the present makes experiences more intense. You're less caught up in your thought worlds, and the pleasure in the breath grows stronger. Everything becomes more immediately felt. But that's not why we're here. You want to look deeper: What is it about intention that makes the difference in the present moment? Always look for that, because that's where freedom is going to be found — in being sensitive to your intentions. When you're totally sensitive to them and totally understand how they cause stress, you can let them go. This is what the Buddha calls the kamma that leads to the end of kamma.
From: The Raft of Concepts by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Sat Jun 03, 2017 8:13 pm

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:One of the first stumbling blocks that Westerners often encounter when they learn about Buddhism is the teaching on anatta, often translated as no-self. This teaching is a stumbling block for two reasons. First, the idea of there being no self doesn't fit well with other Buddhist teachings, such as the doctrine of kamma and rebirth: If there's no self, what experiences the results of kamma and takes rebirth? Second, it doesn't fit well with our own Judeo-Christian background, which assumes the existence of an eternal soul or self as a basic presupposition: If there's no self, what's the purpose of a spiritual life? Many books try to answer these questions, but if you look at the Pali canon — the earliest extant record of the Buddha's teachings — you won't find them addressed at all. In fact, the one place where the Buddha was asked point-blank whether or not there was a self, he refused to answer. When later asked why, he said that to hold either that there is a self or that there is no self is to fall into extreme forms of wrong view that make the path of Buddhist practice impossible. Thus the question should be put aside.
From: No-self or Not-self? by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Mon Jun 05, 2017 7:41 pm

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:You’ve got to generate desire. You’ve got to want to do it. And your wanting has to be wise and discerning. It’s easy to point out people who have a very strong desire for awakening, and the desire actually gets in the way of awakening, or their desires are turning neurotic. They’re trying to obliterate themselves. That’s where the idea that the stream-enterers wipe out their personality comes from. There are people who hate their personalities, so they want to get rid of them and think that here is the Buddha’s approval of their attitude. That’s a neurotic desire, which is easy to satirize, easy to make fun of. And it’s really unhealthy in the practice. But satirizing at it, making fun of all desire, is not helpful either. You’ve got to realize that there is such a thing as healthy desire.
From: Wise Effort by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Sat Jun 10, 2017 8:11 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:Ideally we’re here [at the monastery] to be admirable friends to one another, to be exemplary in our conduct. We don’t have to teach one another the Dhamma. In fact it makes life a lot more difficult for me if you’re out there teaching one another.
From: The Context for No Context by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Tue Jun 13, 2017 12:48 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:Samsara literally means "wandering-on." Many people think of it as the Buddhist name for the place where we currently live — the place we leave when we go to nibbana. But in the early Buddhist texts, it's the answer, not to the question, "Where are we?" but to the question, "What are we doing?" Instead of a place, it's a process: the tendency to keep creating worlds and then moving into them. As one world falls apart, you create another one and go there. At the same time, you bump into other people who are creating their own worlds, too.
....
If samsara were a place, it might seem selfish for one person to look for an escape, leaving others behind. But when you realize that it's a process, there's nothing selfish about stopping it at all. It's like giving up an addiction or an abusive habit. When you learn the skills needed to stop creating your own worlds of suffering, you can share those skills with others so that they can stop creating theirs. At the same time, you'll never have to feed off the worlds of others, so to that extent you're lightening their load as well.
From: Samsara by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Tue Jun 13, 2017 6:45 pm

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:Although [the Buddha] foresaw that his teachings would someday disappear, he didn't simply resign himself to change or trust that it would always work out for the best. He established a wide range of safeguards to ensure that reliable words and models of behavior would survive as long as possible. But in the cut-and-paste Buddhism developing around us in the West, many of these safeguards have been dropped. In particular, the idea of apprenticeship — so central in mastering the habits of the dhamma as a skill — is almost totally lacking. Dhamma principles are reduced to vague generalities, and the techniques for testing them are stripped to a bare, assembly-line minimum.
From: Lost in Quotation by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Thu Jun 15, 2017 8:10 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:When the security of our food source — the basis of our mental and material well-being — gets threatened, the finer qualities of the mind can vanish. People who believe in kindness can suddenly seek revenge. Those who espouse non-violence can suddenly call for war. And those who rule by divisiveness — by making a mockery of compassion, prudence, and our common humanity — find a willing following for their law-of-the-jungle agenda.

This is why compassion based only on belief or feeling is not enough to guarantee our behavior — and why the practice of training the mind to reach an unconditioned happiness is not a selfish thing. If you value compassion and trust, it's an imperative, for only an unconditioned happiness can guarantee the purity of your behavior.
From: Purity of Heart by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Fri Jun 16, 2017 10:51 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:Sometimes you hear that the deepest, most underlying form of clinging is the sense of self identity that you build around things. If you learn how not to have any sense of self identity, there you are: You've taken care of all the other forms of clinging. Sometimes you hear that clinging to views is the basic form of clinging. If you can deconstruct all your views, you'll be done with all the other forms of clinging as well. So you reason your way to seeing how you can't say that things exist, you can't say that things don't exist, or both, or neither. They're empty. That means that your sensual desire is empty, your habits and practices are empty, your doctrines of the self are empty. With everything empty like that, there's nothing to cling to. But that doesn't work either. After letting things go in this way, you'll find that your sensual desires weren't touched. You just turn around and pick them back up. So you have to realize that each kind of clinging has its own antidote.
From: Antidotes for Clinging by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Mon Jun 19, 2017 4:27 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:Because consciousness and craving can continue feeding off each other indefinitely, the process of repeated becoming is endless unless you master the skill that brings it to an end. Because this process of wandering-on simply rises and falls, again and again, it is pointless and meaningless. Because it requires constant feeding, it is not only precarious but also stressful and painful, in that it is driven by hunger and uncertainty over your next source of food. It also places a burden on others who provide your food or who want to lay claim to the same sources of food that you do.

Realizing these facts, the Buddha saw that the happiness he sought could not be found anywhere in the cosmos of becoming, even the highest levels. However, the meaninglessness of saṁsāra gave him the freedom to give his own meaning to his life. For both of these reasons, he saw that the only way to find happiness and meaning would be to discover the way to bring becoming to an end. That was why, on the evening of his awakening, he turned his mind to the third knowledge: the way to end the effluents that “flow out” of the mind and flood it with craving and becoming. The solution to the problem, he saw, was not out there in the cosmos, but in here, in the mind.
From: The Buddha's Teachings: An Introduction by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Tue Jun 20, 2017 7:13 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:[One of the qualities of a person of integrity] is having a sense of yourself: where your strengths are, where your weaknesses are, where you can trust yourself, where you can’t trust yourself, where you need to work on yourself. You could look in a whole library of books, you could look through the entire Internet, and you would never find that kind of knowledge. You have to look at yourself in action and you also have to be around people of integrity so you get a sense of where you do and don’t measure up — and how they see where you do and don’t measure up. It’s not just a matter of your own opinion. You have to listen to their opinions, be sensitive to their standards. You have to read not only their words, but also their behavior and their body language. This is why the Buddha put so much emphasis on choosing a good teacher.
From: An Apprenticeship in Integrity by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Wed Jun 21, 2017 1:44 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:You sometimes hear that everyone deserves your good will because they all have Buddha nature, that they’re all essentially good inside. But this forgets the primary reason for developing good will as a brahmavihara in the first place: You need to make your good will universal so that you can trust your intentions. If you regard your good will as so precious that only Buddhas deserve it, you won’t be able to trust yourself when encountering people whose actions are consistently evil. Remember that you don’t have to like someone to feel good will for that person. All you have to do is wish for that person to be happy. And the more you can develop this attitude toward people you actively dislike, the more you’ll be able to trust yourself.
From: Head & Heart Together: Bringing Wisdom to the Brahmaviharas by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Fri Jun 23, 2017 8:16 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:This is one of the reasons we develop mindfulness: not to be non-reactive, but to be mindful of what we're doing, of what situation we're in, and of the most skillful thing to be doing right now. Keep that in mind, because the principles of karma, the laws of karma, are not traffic laws that apply only in certain places, only at certain times, on the south side of the street from 4:30 to 6 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays, that kind of thing. Karma is a law that applies to all of our actions, 24/7. So be skillful at all times. No matter what the situation, no matter how minor or major it may seem, we've got the opportunity to do good, to act on skillful intentions — not just good intentions, but intentions that are skillful as well.
From: For the Good of the World by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Sat Jun 24, 2017 8:25 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:There are some people who really like to take a macho approach that whatever defilement comes up in the mind they’re going to starve it. They go without food, they work themselves really hard, thinking that somehow the austerity is going to burn the defilement away. And that does work with some problems. That can be one tool you use, one tool that you keep in your tool chest, but it can’t be the only tool. There are other defilements that require more precision, less brute effort, but demand a lot more from your powers of observation, so that you can understand where they’re coming from. You want to have a wide range of skills.
From: Against Your Type by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Sun Jun 25, 2017 2:53 am

Ṭhānissaro Bhikkhu's unique English translations of important Pāli terms:
mettā=goodwill, dukkha=stress, anicca=inconstancy, saṅkhāra=fabrications, anattā=not-self, Nibbāna=Unbinding, viriya=persistence, saddhā=conviction, muditā=appreciation, kusala=skillful, akusala=unskillful, paññā=discernment, appamāda=heedfulness, yoniso-manasikāra=appropriate attention, dosā=aversion, dhātu=properties, kalyāṇamittatā=admirable friendship, Satipaṭṭhāna=Frames of Reference, vitakka=directed thought, vicāra=evaluation

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