The Quotable Thanissaro

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

Post by dhammapal » Tue Jan 30, 2018 5:00 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:If you think of goodwill as lovingkindness and you’re there like the mother protecting her only child, as some people believe that passage in the Karaniya Metta Sutta says, it becomes pretty oppressive — and very inflated. How are you going to go running around protecting everybody the way a mother would protect her child? It’s hard enough to protect one child, much less all beings. But actually, the Buddha’s saying in that passage that you’ve got to protect your goodwill, both for yourself and for others, as a mother would protect her child. That’s something you can actually do.
From: Goodwill in Action by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

dhammapal
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Fri Feb 02, 2018 2:29 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:Those who demand immediate return for specific services and goods will always require a monetary system. Sincere Buddhist lay people, however, have the chance to play an amphibious role, engaging in the monetary economy in order to maintain their livelihood, and contributing to the economy of gifts whenever they feel so inclined. In this way they can maintain direct contact with teachers, insuring the best possible instruction for their own practice, in an atmosphere where mutual compassion and concern are the medium of exchange; and purity of heart, the bottom line.
From: The Economy of Gifts by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

dhammapal
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Sat Feb 03, 2018 3:42 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:You have these capabilities. And this confidence is what allows you to take on bigger and bigger enemies, and to admit that they’re there. This is an important part of looking into the mind. We see a desire, and often we’re afraid of really looking carefully at the desire, afraid of what’s behind it. It’s only when we have a firm foundation of confidence and solidity that we can begin to admit, “Oh, there is that unskillful emotion there. There’s some jealousy in there that I didn’t think was there. There are some other unpleasant emotions that I didn’t want to admit to myself.” It’s easier to admit those things to yourself when you also see that you’ve got positive qualities, so that the picture isn’t totally bleak. This is one of the reasons we work on concentration.
From: Fear of the Truth by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

dhammapal
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Sun Feb 04, 2018 5:40 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:There’re some areas with very clear dos-and-don’ts. For example, as the Buddha pointed out, killing is never skillful. Stealing is never skillful. Illicit sex is never skillful. Lying is never skillful.

Divisive speech, coarse speech, idle chatter: There are a few cases in those three where you can engage in them, but you have to know a sense of moderation. This doesn’t mean that you do them a little bit. You engage in them only when you’re confident that your intention is skillful, when you have to speak harshly with somebody to get that person’s attention, when you have to warn people about someone who could take advantage of them, or when you have to engage in friendly chatter to keep the group going smoothly. But those are areas where you have to be very, very careful.
From: Between Either & Or by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

dhammapal
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Mon Feb 05, 2018 1:30 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:It would be very useful if Buddhist groups would openly part ways with the prevailing amoral tenor of our culture and let it be known in a kindly way that they value goodheartedness and restraint among their members. In doing so, they would provide a healthy environment for the full-scale adoption of the Buddha's course of therapy: the practice of concentration and discernment in a life of virtuous action. Where we have such environments, we find that meditation needs no myth or make-believe to support it, because it is based on the reality of a well-lived life. You can look at the standards by which you live, and then breathe in and out comfortably — not as a flower or a mountain, but as a full-fledged, responsible human being. For that's what you are.
From: The Healing Power of the Precepts by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

dhammapal
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Mon Feb 05, 2018 11:20 pm

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:As you're focusing on the breath, put aside any sensual passions. There's the phrase in the description of jhana, "secluded from sensuality." Some people interpret that as meaning totally cut off from any input from the physical senses. Some interpret it as meaning secluded from sensual pleasures, so that you have to meditate in a place that's unpleasant or a place that's very boring. But neither of those interpretations is what the Buddha means. Sensuality, in his sense of the word, is your passion for your sensual thoughts and plans; the extent to which you love to obsess about those things. So in being secluded from sensuality you're not trying to close off any contact with outside senses and you're not trying to put yourself in a dull, boring place. You're trying to develop a more internal seclusion: If you see any sensual passion coming up, you sidestep it. You put it aside.
From: Right Concentration by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

dhammapal
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Wed Feb 07, 2018 5:51 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:The physical world may be made out of atoms, but the world of your experience is made out of little things like this — pleasures and pains. So use the techniques of the meditation to become more skillful in how you deal with the basic building blocks. Once the basic building blocks are well in hand, then the whole rest of your life gets rebuilt.
From: Pleasure & Pain by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

dhammapal
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Thu Feb 08, 2018 7:47 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:The word nibbida sometimes can be translated as disgust: the kind of disgust that comes not because things in and of themselves are disgusting, but simply because we were trying to feed on them. We haven’t really been paying careful attention to what we’ve been feeding on. We begin to see that the things we’ve been drawing nourishment from really don’t have the nourishment we thought they provided.

As Ajaan Lee once said, it’s as if most of the flavor comes from our own saliva, like a dog chewing on a bone. The only flavor the bone has to offer is the dog’s own saliva. That’s what we’ve been bringing to it. You see that it’s a futile process, and seeing that is what leads to dispassion.
From: Disenchantment by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Sun Feb 11, 2018 4:04 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:So you have to use some independent thinking with your [meditation] technique. You can’t hope that the technique is going to do all the work for you. That’d be like putting your brain through a factory, like hot dog factories, where basically whatever gets put into the factory comes out hot dog, whether it’s meat, or whatever body parts or insect parts or who knows what. It’s all hot dog in the end.

Enlightenment is not a hot dog. It’s the process of developing your own sensitivity. You can’t put the mind through a machine that’s going to make it one. You use the technique in the same way that you use a knife. You learn how to use your knife skillfully so that you don’t harm yourself, you don’t harm other people. That way, it becomes a beneficial tool. The knife sitting on its own is neither here nor there, neither good nor bad. It’s what you do with it. The same with meditation techniques. The technique itself is neutral. It’s how you understand the technique, it’s how you use it, that’s what makes all the difference in the world.
From: Enlightenment is Not a Hot Dog by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

dhammapal
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Wed Feb 14, 2018 2:00 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:They sometimes talk about getting stuck on concentration or becoming a concentration junkie, but those are cases where the concentration lacks the other elements of the path. Your understanding of why there's suffering in the world is skewed, or your understanding of why you're suffering is skewed. You spend all your time just focusing on your breath and not wanting to do anything for anyone else anywhere, not wanting to be bothered by the world.

You have to realize that it's not the world that's bothering you; you're bothering the world with your demands. A weakness in your concentration and a weakness in your discernment make you think that way.
From: The Buddha Didn't Play Gotcha by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

dhammapal
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Thu Feb 15, 2018 3:50 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:If you’re living a virtuous life, other people are not going to want to bother you. You’re creating a good environment around yourself in a lot of other ways as well. In addition, you’re creating a good environment inside, too: There’s a sense of self-esteem, of responsibility, and maturity that come from these practices.

This is something that we don’t get in the world of privitized Dharma, where they just teach you a meditation technique and send you home – and don’t ask you to change the way you’ve lived your life and don’t ask you any questions about how you’ve lived your life or require you to ask questions about how you’ve lived your life. But for the practice to genuinely grow, you’ve got to have this added dimension. You’ve got to address these questions. If you’ve behaved irresponsibly or thoughtlessly in the course of the day, you’re going to carry those attitudes into the meditation. If you believe in the basic principle of Dharma without karma – in other words, where everything is just a “oneness” and all you have to do is just relax into the oneness and everything’s going to be okay – you’re not going to look into your responsibility for the way things are or how you can make them better. And yet that’s actually what the meditation is all about – the mind needs improving. It needs to develop its mindfulness, its alertness, its ardency, its concentration, its discernment. And these are things that can be developed.

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.
From: No Dharma without Karma by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Thu Feb 15, 2018 5:51 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:And as you come to know the practice, come to know the Dhamma, you realize exactly how all-encompassing it is. Once these qualities are developed in the mind, they take care of all kinds of situations. Qualities of mindfulness, discernment, and concentration are basic to any skill, basic to our ability to deal with any situation. So by focusing on these few things we really do cover all of our bases. They encompass everything.

One of the good things about the Dhamma is that it’s so big. You can give your whole life to it. It’s something worth giving your life to, because it teaches you what you need to know, teaches you the skills you need to handle whatever life throws at you — and more. So even though a life of renunciation may seem like a life of getting pared down and narrowed down, it’s not really that way at all. It broadens out because you’re not confining the mind with narrow, petty issues. You’re dealing with the few really big essential issues in life that cover everything.
From: Simplify by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Fri Feb 16, 2018 1:35 am

Question: When I observe my breath as given in the instructions, I have the sense that I’m controlling it. This doesn’t seem natural. What advice could you give me?

Thanissaro Bhikkhu: The mind is always controlling the breath to one extent or another, but a lot of the control is sub-conscious. Here we’re trying to bring this aspect more into your consciousness. As you become more conscious of it, the first thing you do is that you will probably mess it up. But as you get more sensitive to what actually feels good, then your sense of control actually becomes more refined and more skillful. As Ajaan Fuang once said, you’re always going to be controlling your breath until your first stage of awakening, so you might as well learn how to do it well.
From: The Five Faculties: Putting Wisdom in Charge of the Mind by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

dhammapal
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Tue Feb 20, 2018 9:50 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:The Buddha describes two types of suffering. Some types of suffering simply happen because of the way the world is. The days are too hot or too cold; people die and get sick; you yourself will grow sick and age and die some day. These kinds of suffering are ultimately beyond your control. Fortunately, though, they don’t have to weigh down the mind. But there is a second type of suffering that comes from craving and ignorance: qualities in the mind itself. This is the kind of suffering that actually weighs the mind down. Because you can learn to exert control over the qualities in the mind, this is the good news of the Buddha’s teachings: The suffering that weighs down the mind is the suffering over which you can gain control, and you can put an end to it.
From: The Karma of Mindfulness: The Buddha's Teachings on Sati and Kamma by Thanissaro Bhikkhu


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