The Quotable Thanissaro

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
dhammapal
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Sat Dec 23, 2017 5:17 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:The passage we chanted last night: Atano loko, the world offers no shelter. Anabhissaro, there is no one in charge. When you think about it in one way it’s scary. There is no greater power that you can turn everything over to. There’s no guarantee that everything is going to come out all right in the end. That’s the scary interpretation. The other interpretation sees this as an opportunity: You’re free to choose. You are free to write the story of your own life because there is nobody up there taking down the narrative from their point of view. You can write the story of your life right now. You can write one little bit of it right now. But sometimes that little bit can be very important. It can change the whole plot.
From: Taking Charge by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

dhammapal
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Sun Dec 24, 2017 3:27 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:Get so that the mind develops a basic intelligence in sorting itself out, managing itself, so that all your mental powers suddenly become powers you can truly put to good use.

As we were saying today, there are times when, for your own good, you don't want to be focused on the breath. There are things you have to think about, things you've got to plan for, things you have to ponder, where you take all the powers of the mind you've trained in concentration and put them to other uses. That way the benefits of the concentration permeate your whole life, everything you do.

So it's an all-around training, not just learning to relate to the breath, but learning how to relate to everything else going on in the mind as well, so that skillful thoughts take over and unskillful thoughts get left behind. That's when you can say that the meditation is a whole-mind process. That's when it gives results penetrating throughout your whole life. The committee members learn how to live together. The unskillful ones get outvoted. The ones who should be in charge, the skillful qualities, take over and run the show in such a way that nobody suffers.
From: Training the Whole Mind by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

dhammapal
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Mon Dec 25, 2017 9:24 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:When you look frankly at the world, you realize that if you really wish for people to be happy — if it’s a sincere wish and not just a little happy, happy, happy thought you put in the mind — you find that looking at the world gets painful. You wonder: Why can’t we just get along? You look around at people, and for some reason they keep on finding ways of not getting along. You’d think it should be easy for people to learn how to cooperate, to treat one another with respect, and yet they don’t. And as the Buddha pointed out, it’s going to get worse, this human world of ours, before it gets better.
From: Metta Can Hurt by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Wed Dec 27, 2017 7:11 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:There are a lot of thoughts that just don’t make any difference at all in how you conduct your life. As the Buddha said, the big question in life is, “What are you doing that’s causing suffering? Can you learn how to stop?” Other questions can carry you away to abstractions: “Where does the world come from? Are there deities out there that can help you? Is the world finite? Is it infinite? Is it eternal? Is it not eternal?” For most religions, most teachings, those are the big questions: “What am I? Who am I? Who made me? What is the meaning of my life?” The Buddha said you can never come to the end trying to answer those questions. He called them a thicket of views, a wilderness of views: You just get lost.

But there is one question that you can answer, that you can find a solution for, and that really makes a difference. That’s, “Why are you suffering? Why is there suffering?” Wisdom, the Buddha says, comes from learning to ask the question, “What, when I do it, will lead to my long-term welfare and happiness?”
From: Good at Thinking by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

dhammapal
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Thu Dec 28, 2017 8:04 pm

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:One of the ironies of our culture is that people who meditate are accused of running away from their responsibilities, running away from life, running away from reality, running away from the world. Actually as you sit here, you’re sitting and staring face-to-face with your responsibilities: your intentions from moment to moment. One of the lessons you learn as you meditate is how many defilements you have, how much suffering your intentions can cause. And the whole point of the meditation is to take responsibility for your intentions and learn how to shape them into something better, something more responsible, more harmless.
From: Facing Your Responsibilities by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

dhammapal
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Sat Dec 30, 2017 7:21 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:Conviction insists on giving priority to your state of mind above all else, for that's what shapes your intentions. This counteracts the corollary to the first delusion: "What if sticking to my principles makes it easier for people to do me harm?" This question is based ultimately on the delusion that life is our most precious possession. If that were true, it would be a pretty miserable possession, for it heads inexorably to death. Conviction views our life as precious only to the extent that it's used to develop the mind, for the mind — when developed — is something that no one, not even death, can harm. "Quality of life" is measured by the quality and integrity of the intentions on which we act, just as "quality time" is time devoted to the practice.
From: Freedom From Fear by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Sun Dec 31, 2017 8:49 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:People should be encouraged to join in the [pursuit of justice] only of their own free will. No demands, no attempts to impose social change as a duty, and no attempts to make them feel guilty for not joining your cause. Instead, social change should be presented as a joyous opportunity for expressing good qualities of [generosity, virtue, and the development of universal goodwill]. To borrow an expression from the Canon, those qualities are best promoted by embodying them yourself, and by speaking in praise of how those practices will work for the long-term benefit of anyone else who adopts them, too.
From: Wisdom over Justice by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Mon Jan 01, 2018 5:20 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:So when you realize that the past and the future do have their uses, you give more dimension to the practice. If this were just a practice of staying in the present moment, we could all go out and have frontal lobotomies and that would take care of it. But it doesn't work that way. You need some sense of the past. You have to be observant and remember what worked and didn't work in the past, and then see how those lessons apply to the present moment. Sometimes you have to re-learn a lesson or adjust a past lesson, because what seemed to work in the past may not be working this time. That simply means you have to be even more observant of what's going on. It doesn't mean you totally throw out the past. It means you take your knowledge and adjust it, you make it more refined. And this is how the practice develops, as you build on your past mistakes — and on your past successes as well.
From: One Step at a Time by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Tue Jan 02, 2018 6:46 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:Even something as innocent as listening to the news: There’s not only the bias of the particular newscaster but also a deeper bias that underlies all the news that you get through the media — which is that the most important things happening in the world right now are things that other people are doing someplace else. And that right there flies in the face of the Dhamma. The Buddha’s teaching is that the most important thing in life is what you’re doing right now. And you want to be skillful about it.

You don’t want your attention to be distracted by other people’s behavior. At most you look at them as examples: Is this person’s behavior a good example? A bad example? But your primary focus has to be on what you’re doing right now. That’s one of the questions the Buddha has the monks ask themselves everyday: “Days and night fly past, fly past. What am I doing right now?” And it’s a good question not only for monks but for all people who are trying to train the mind, trying to find true happiness.
From: In the Land of Wrong View by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

dhammapal
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Thu Jan 04, 2018 8:30 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:Sometimes we’re told that the Buddha’s main purpose in teaching was to put an end to all suffering. Well, yes, but his approach to accomplishing that end was very specific. Instead of running around trying to right all the sufferings caused by the injustices of the world, he focused on one type of suffering: the suffering we each cause ourselves, through our own craving, through our own clinging, through our own ignorance. When we put an end to that suffering, we don’t suffer from anything outside at all. But the problem has to be solved from within, which is why he never said that the whole world, or half the world, or whatever, would put an end to suffering. He simply taught the way. It’s up to each of us to follow it. And none of us can follow it for anyone else.
From: Justice vs. Skillfulness by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

dhammapal
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Fri Jan 05, 2018 1:45 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:Some people think that the deathless is just a nice spacey feeling around your sensations, that you tend to miss it if you don’t look for it, but it’s there: a neither-pleasure-nor-pain kind of space around things. But that’s not the deathless; it’s is just another kind of feeling: the neither-pleasure-nor-pain of equanimity, of the dimension of space. Dressing it up as the deathless is not a skillful way of dressing it up. It may make you feel good for a while, but it gets in the way of your seeing through the process of fabrication. After all, that sense of space that you create around things is something you’ve fabricated. You were the one who turned your attention there and highlighted it in your awareness. You were the one who tried to make something out of it, tried to shoot it with fancy labels. The fancy labels may seem reassuring, but they’re not the skillful shooting that the Buddha has in mind.
From: Shoot Your Pains with Wisdom by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Sat Jan 06, 2018 2:47 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:With ardency and compunction, you know that you’re causing stress with your actions and that the wise reaction, of course, is to try to stop the kinds of actions that would cause stress and suffering. This is why it’s wise. And it corresponds to something I’ve felt for a long time. You sometimes see scholars of Buddhism who give the impression that they know better than everybody else. Those poor stupid people who are practicing aren’t as wise as the scholars: That’s what the scholars think, but the scholars just sit there and read the books and talk about what they’ve read. The wise people are the ones who realize they’ve got unskillful qualities in their minds, that those qualities are causing suffering, and that they’ve got to do something about it. The best use of the Dhamma is not to talk about it, but to use it to get rid of that suffering.

It’s in figuring out what you’ve got to do to act more skillfully: That’s where the wisdom lies. That’s where the discernment lies.
From: The Wisdom of Ardency by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Sat Jan 06, 2018 12:16 pm

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:The general message of the world is that happiness is possible but it doesn’t last and it has its limitations. It can be found, but a lot of times you have to find it by clawing other people, scrambling up the ladder, stepping on other people to get on top of them and ahead of them. That’s the way of the world.

Or by holding a belief that you’re part of the chosen few and everybody else has to go to hell: “Ah, that’s too bad for them, but as long as my skin is safe that’s okay.” Which is a really miserable belief when you think about it: all the mental contortions people have to go through to think that the Creator of the world wanted to sentence his creations to damnation and that he was just and kind in doing so.

There’s nothing of that in the Buddha’s teachings. True happiness is possible and comes from developing qualities you can be proud of. And it’s something available to everybody.
From: Appreciation by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Sun Jan 07, 2018 11:55 pm

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:The attitude of respect is built into the Buddha’s teachings. A lot of people think that Buddhism is an interesting philosophy, perhaps a very good philosophy, that somehow got religion tacked on to it, with all the bowing and all the other paraphernalia that go along with religion. And they’d like to separate the two: “Can’t we just have the philosophy without the religion?” But if you look at the nature of the Buddha’s philosophy, his teachings on the Four Noble Truths, the whole attitude of respect is built into the teaching itself. When you realize that the big issue here is the possibility of a great deal of pain or a lot of pleasure, true pleasure, it puts an edge on the teachings. It’s not just an interesting description of things. It points out a dilemma we’re all placed in. We’ve got to do something about it, for otherwise we just keep cranking out suffering all the time.
From: Respect for Heedfulness by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Wed Jan 10, 2018 12:32 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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