The Quotable Thanissaro

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
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

dhammapal
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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

dhammapal
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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


dhammapal
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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

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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
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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
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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

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