The Quotable Thanissaro

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dhammapal
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Sun Dec 18, 2016 5:46 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:We're going to be receiving the results of these actions. So act in a way whose results you'd like to receive. Be concerned about that: That's what's meant by the Pali word, ottappa. It can be translated either as fear of the results of your actions or concern for the results of your actions. However you translate it, it means that you're not apathetic; you know that whatever you do is going to bear results.

Here again the quality of discernment comes in. There are lots of things we like to do that will give bad results and things we don't like to do that will give good results. The Buddha said the measure of whether we're a fool or a wise person lies in how we handle situations like that. In other words this is where the quality of discernment really shows its worth. You can talk about discernment, you can describe the three characteristics, the five khandhas, the six sense-spheres, dependent co-arising, emptiness, all these wonderful concepts; you can talk about them, but if they can't help you make the right decision when you're faced with a hard decision, your discernment's useless. Useful discernment is the type that enables you to talk yourself out of doing things you would like to do but that you know would give bad results, or to talk yourself into doing things you don't like to do but would give good results. That's where discernment shows its stuff.
From: The Sublime Attitudes by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Mon Dec 19, 2016 9:18 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:That's what's meant by an attitude of humility: a willingness to learn from the little things, no matter where they show themselves. Humility requires being attentive, watchful, not assuming that you already know, that you're already good, realizing that there's always room for improvement. You have to delight in that fact, to delight in actually making the improvements, letting go of the unskillful qualities in the mind, developing the skillful ones. This is how we follow the customs of the Noble Ones. And that way we open ourselves to the opportunity of experiencing the attainments that the Noble Ones have attained.
From: Humility by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Tue Dec 20, 2016 12:37 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:To think of all the suffering in the world is not meant to get you depressed. It’s meant for you to question yourself: How can I find a way out? If I can find a way out, how can I share it with others? This means that instead of looking to other people for a cure for your suffering, leading to your happiness, you want to find what you can within.

This way, having looked at all the sufferings of other beings, and developing a sense of goodwill for all beings, you come back to the particulars of your suffering from a different perspective. Instead of looking at what makes your suffering special or different, you want to look at it in terms of what it has in common with everyone else’s.
From: The Particulars of Your Suffering by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Tue Dec 20, 2016 9:12 pm

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:We here at the monastery don’t have a “No Speaking” rule. But it’s wise to keep your speech to an absolute minimum. This is an area where, if people want to be quiet, we should learn how to respect their desire to be quiet without their having to explain an awful lot. In other words, they come to the meal, they want to eat, they want to eat quietly — you leave them alone.

It’s good training to learn to look at your speech. If you have an absolute rule against speaking, then the mind just goes on chattering to itself, chattering all the time, to fill up the space. But if you’re allowed to speak, you’re reminded to speak wisely. Ajaan Fuang had a good rule for this. He said, “Ask yourself before you say anything, ‘Is this really necessary?’ If it’s not, you don’t say it.”

I found that when I first started to try to apply this rule to my own speech, it cut my speech down about 95%.
From: Respect for Concentration by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Wed Dec 21, 2016 11:02 pm

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:If a thought concerning your work or other responsibilities comes to mind while you’re meditating, tell yourself that you’ll deal with it right after you leave meditation. Or you may decide to set aside a five or ten minute period at the end of meditation specifically to think about issues in your life that require serious consideration.

If, before you start meditating, you realize that you’re facing an important decision in life that might interfere with your meditation, tell yourself that you’ll use the meditation period to clear your mind before contemplating the decision. Before meditating, pose whatever questions you want to have answers for, and then drop them. Refuse to pay them any attention if they pop up during the meditation. Focus your attention exclusively on the breath. When you emerge from the meditation, see if an answer presents itself to your awareness. There’s no guarantee that the answer will be correct, but at least it’s coming from a quiet spot in the mind, and it gives you something to put to the test. If no answer presents itself, your mind is at any rate clearer and sharper than it was before the meditation, putting you in a better position to contemplate the issues you face. But be sure that while you’re meditating you don’t have anything to do with thoughts about those issues at all.
From: With Each & Every Breath: A Guide to Meditation by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Fri Dec 23, 2016 2:45 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:I’ve talked to people who say fairly nonchalantly that, oh yes, they’ve experienced the deathless, and it’s no big deal. Actually, the deathless is a Very Big Deal. But if you think that what you had was an experience of the deathless, that cuts off the possibility of any further progress.

So you have to be careful about not overestimating your attainments. When something happens in the meditation, just put a little post-it note on it and realize it’s just a post-it note. If you have no idea what it is, okay, put a question mark on it. Then watch it for a while and see what it does. Or if the idea that you’ve reached a certain attainment comes into the mind, notice how the mind reacts to that idea. If you can see any defilement in your reaction, you’ve come out ahead; you’ve learned an important lesson about the mind.
From: Two Roads to the Grand Canyon by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Fri Dec 23, 2016 7:37 pm

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:Everything the Buddha teaches gets analyzed down into actions, intentions and their results. The intention you can gauge as to whether it’s skillful or not, the results you can gauge as to whether they are skillful or not. What kind of person you are, how good or bad you are, that’s not anything you can gauge at all. If you try to do it, it really gets in the way.
From: Thoughts with Fangs by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Sun Dec 25, 2016 9:19 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:People grow up with computers; they don’t grow up with people any more. They’re more comfortable looking at a screen. You see this all over the world now; it’s not just here in America. I was recently in Thailand, Singapore, and Malaysia. You see groups of people sitting around, and they’re all staring at their little screens. They’re not learning the lessons that come from looking at the people around you — looking at their expressions, listening to the tone of voice, seeing what they’re doing and casting around in your mind to ask yourself, “What do they need? What are they lacking? Is there something I’ve got that they could use?”

It’s through reestablishing human contact that we also reestablish a kind of sensitivity within ourselves: on the one hand, this willingness to be generous, and on the other hand, knowing how to look after the gifts that other people do give you — learning how to appreciate them, how to care for them if they’re material objects, learning how to be gracious in accepting other people’s help. These are all habits that are really helpful as you meditate. They develop sensitivity, and that’s what discernment is all about: sensing things that are not pointed out to you. The Buddha gives you lessons on where to look and tells you what to look for. But for you to see the actual movements of your own mind, you’ve got to be very sensitive, often in unexpected ways. And that quality of sensitivity is best developed through generosity, through virtue — all the standard parts of the path.
From: Sensitivity Through Generosity by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

dhammapal
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Sun Dec 25, 2016 8:52 pm

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:Two principles in [the Buddha's] teaching on kamma were especially distinctive. The first is that kamma is intention [AN6:63]. In other words, action is not simply a matter of the motion of the body. It’s a matter of the mind — and the intention that drives the kamma makes the difference between good actions and bad.

The second distinctive principle is that kamma coming from the past has to be shaped by kamma in the present before you can experience it. You actually experience your present kamma before you engage with the results of past kamma. Without present kamma, you wouldn’t experience the results of past kamma at all. The importance of your present kamma is the reason why we meditate. When we meditate, we’re getting more sensitive to what we’re doing in the present moment, we’re creating good kamma in the present moment, and we’re learning how to be more skillful in creating good kamma all the time, from now into the future.

Now, in learning to shape our present moment skillfully, it helps to learn lessons from other people who have learned through experience how to shape their kamma skillfully themselves. We also have to learn from our own actions, observing what we do and the results of what we do. Once we’ve learned those lessons, we have to remember them. If we learn them and then forget them, they’re useless.

It’s for this reason we need to develop mindfulness, or sati, which the Buddha defined as a faculty of memory: your active memory, the lessons you need to remember from the past about how to shape your experience skillfully in the present. There are people who explain mindfulness as bare attention or full awareness, but the Buddha wasn’t one of them. In his use of the term, mindfulness is your active memory, your ability to keep things in mind. So, as we discuss mindfulness in the course of this retreat, try to keep the Buddha’s meaning of the word in mind.
From: The Karma of Mindfulness: The Buddha's Teachings on Sati and Kamma by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Mon Dec 26, 2016 12:56 pm

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:Like the Buddha: He left his family, and many people get upset about that, thinking he was a deadbeat dad. But you have to remember that one of the ways that a husband or father could provide for his family in those days was to go out on an expedition, go out exploring, and to come back with a treasure. Sometimes it would take years. In this case, the Buddha came back with a really great treasure: the treasure of the deathless. So even though he had to isolate himself from his family — and it did cause them some grief; he himself found it hard to leave them — still, he knew that he had to. And when he came back, he had something that more than compensated for those six or seven years.
From: Responsible for Your Goodness by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Tue Dec 27, 2016 3:44 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:People sometimes believe that the whole purpose of the meditation is to get into the present moment and just stay there. The Buddha never talked like that. He always said, "There's work to be done in the present moment." That's why you get here. You want to settle down here with the purpose of understanding the intentions acting here in the present moment, because that's the only place where you can really observe your intentions in action. If there's any greed, anger, or delusion in the intention, you're going to see it only in the present moment.

After it's passed, that intention is just a memory — and you know how memory tends to color things depending on what you want to see, how it fits into a good or bad narrative about yourself. But it's just a narrative. There's no guarantee that it's going to get you to the reality of the intention. The only way you can really see is by looking in the present moment.
From: The Story behind Impatience by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Tue Dec 27, 2016 11:25 pm

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:If there’s suffering, the cause is not outside. Just turn around and look in your mind. This is not for the purpose of laying the blame on you. It’s for the purpose of offering you a path out of the suffering. What people do outside often is totally outrageous. Sometimes people don’t even behave like people. They behave like beasts. And it’s true. We’re not denying that fact. But if you focus on them, that’s not going to solve the problem. We’re not here to assign who’s to blame and who’s not to blame for your suffering. We’re here to find a way out. And the way out is by looking into the mind. How do you shape things? When you go about looking and listening, thinking, what are you looking for? Can you look and listen in a different way?
From: Two Things to Keep in Mind by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Thu Dec 29, 2016 12:26 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:When you read the Buddha's teachings on mindfulness out of context, it's possible to interpret them as saying that when you're being mindful, say, of feelings, you just watch whatever feeling comes up and don't make any changes. Don't meddle with it. Just be non-reactive, allowing whatever's happening to happen. What this attitude does, though, is to drive underground some really important sources for insight: the ability to see to what extent you're shaping your feelings of pleasure and pain right now. This applies to physical pleasure and mental pleasure, to physical pain and mental pain. So when the Buddha talks about the things you do that lead to happiness, he's not just referring to your external actions. He's also referring to the way you think, the way you interpret, filter, make choices about how to shape the present moment: a purely internal matter.

Mindfulness is to remind you that you can make choices, and that you want to learn to make them skillfully. You can learn how to breathe in a comfortable way, to think in a comfortable way, to fashion your thoughts and your perceptions so as to shape a greater sense of well-being. You don't have to invest any money. Just take time and use your powers of observation. That's what it all comes down to.
From: Wisdom for Dummies by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Fri Dec 30, 2016 12:45 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:The Buddha talks about the importance of focusing on the present moment only in the context of karma: You focus on the present because you know that there’s work to be done in training the mind in developing skillful present intentions, and you don’t know how much more time you have to accomplish that training. If you don’t train it now, you’ll suffer both now and on into the future.
From: The Seeds of Karma: 21 Questions on Karma & Rebirth by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Sat Dec 31, 2016 12:22 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:So remember, as you leave the meditation, how you live the rest of the day is going to have a huge impact on the next time you meditate. We all look to the meditation to have a good impact on the rest of our lives, but it’s not going to happen unless you actually try to carry these qualities into your daily life. We have to look to the way we live our lives to have a good impact on our meditation, too.

Like that retreat where Ajaan Suwat noticed that people who didn’t have much background in the precepts were pretty grim about the meditation: At the end of the retreat, when he was asked, “How do we carry the meditation into daily life?” he talked about the precepts. A couple of the people got really upset, as if he were saying, “Well, you’re lay people so can’t really meditate in daily life, so content yourself with the precepts.” But that’s not what he was saying. He was saying that it’s through observing the precepts that you bring mindfulness, ardency, alertness, concentration, and discernment into your life. You’ll find there are challenges: You make up your mind not to kill anything and suddenly there are pests in your house — what are you going to do? You make up your mind you’re not going to lie, and someone asks you a question where you know that if you told them the truth straight out or told them the whole truth, there’d be trouble — what are you going to do? You have to learn how to use your ingenuity in order to maintain your precepts.

So all the qualities that we want to develop in the meditation get their start with the act of generosity and with your decision to take the precepts and follow them through. The Dharma comes from giving of yourself; the Dharma comes from taking responsibility for your actions. There is no Dharma without karma.

These lessons apply to every aspect of the practice.
From: No Dharma Without Karma by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Sat Dec 31, 2016 10:21 pm

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:If something in life goes badly, we tend to blame other factors, either other people or things totally beyond our control. There are times when problems do come from outside, but those aren’t the ones that cause the most suffering, and they’re not the ones you’re responsible for. You’re responsible for the areas where you can make choices. That’s what you want to look for.

The Buddha once said that one of the signs of wisdom is recognizing your own foolishness, seeing where you’ve made mistakes. That gives you an opportunity to change your ways. As he says, “A fool who recognizes his own foolishness is to that extent wise.” Even then, there are foolish and wise ways of looking at your own foolishness. To say, “I am a fool,” closes off a lot of opportunities. If you’re a fool, what are you going to do? There’s not much room for self-improvement. Telling yourself, “I’ve been a fool,” though, opens the possibility that you can change your ways. So, how do you recognize you’ve been a fool? You see the consequences of your actions. You did something and it caused harm, either to yourself or to other people, and yet you had a choice. You didn’t have to choose to do that foolish action. Recognizing choices and recognizing the consequences of your choices teaches the important principle that the mind needs to be trained so it can make better choices. Always keep this in mind. It’s the beginning of wisdom.
From: The Wisdom of Wising Up by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Sun Jan 01, 2017 10:31 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:This is why the Buddha has you put sensual passion aside, for it prevents the mind from getting concentrated. It prevents you from even conceiving of the possibility of getting concentrated. Similarly with ill will and harmfulness: If you hold ill will for somebody, if you want to be harmful to that person, then as soon as the mind settles down to be quiet in the present moment, those thoughts are sure to flare up. They obsess you. So the Buddha has you resolve to put them aside.
From: The Buddha's Shoulds by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Mon Jan 02, 2017 2:45 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:A lot of societies have rites of passage where a person approaching adulthood is sent out to be alone. For many people it's the first time in their lives they've ever really been by themselves. It gives them a chance to gain a sense of who they are and what they really think about things, what they feel inspired to do with their lives. In our society we lack that. It may be why most people never really grow up. So try to make the meditation your rite of passage: the time when you're alone and can sort things out, from a mature position, as to what you really believe in and what you don't.
From: An Anthropologist from Mars by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Tue Jan 03, 2017 2:04 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:Back in the 19th century when Westerners were beginning to read some of the Buddhist texts, and all saw was suffering, death, aging, illness, As a result, they wrote Buddhism off as a very pessimistic religion. But when they went to Asia, they saw that Buddhists in general were very happy people. The temple fairs, the various observances in the course of the year, were always very happy gatherings. And the Westerners came to the conclusion that Buddhists didn’t understand their own religion. If they really understood what the Buddha taught, they would be morose and horribly depressed. But instead they were happy.

So Westerners came up with a theory of what they called the great tradition versus the little tradition, i.e. the great tradition being what was in the texts and the little tradition being Buddhism on the ground. But what they really missed was the central message in the texts, which is that your happiness is in your hands. And that true happiness comes from behaving in a way that’s totally harmless. And not just harmless in the sense that you’re not going to hurt other people, but also that you’re going to positively do good by practicing generosity as an important part of the path. This is how the Buddha’s message is empowering. You can create a happy life by acting in ways that are noble and good.
From: In Charge of Your World by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Tue Jan 03, 2017 10:17 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:There are lots of people out there who'd rather not be adults, who'd rather be infantilized. And there are lots of other people who enjoy telling them what to do, what to think. Even in Buddhist circles, you find various kinds of meditation where as they say, "Everything has all been thought out, everything has all been worked out, just follow the instructions. Don't think, don't add anything of your own." It's interesting to note that a lot of these methods also refer to the teaching on not-self as egolessness. Any sense of pride, any sense of independence is a bad thing in those meditation traditions. As one tradition would say, just be totally passive and aware, very equanimous, and just let your old sankharas burn away. And above all, don't think. Or if you are going to think, they say, learn how to think the way we think. And they have huge volumes of philosophy you have to learn, to squeeze your mind into their mold, after which they promise you awakening.

But that doesn't work. Awakening comes from being very observant in seeing things you don't expect to see, developing your own sensitivities, your own discernment. After all, as the Buddha said, the issue is the suffering you're creating. If you don't have the basic honesty and maturity to see that, you're never going to gain awakening no matter how much you know, no matter how much you study, no matter how equanimous you are. You've got to take responsibility. And you've got to be willing to learn from your mistakes.
From: Adult Dhamma by Thanissaro Bhikkhu


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