The Quotable Thanissaro

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
dhammapal
Posts: 1706
Joined: Sun Nov 01, 2009 9:23 am
Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Tue Apr 10, 2018 8:36 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.
From: Wisdom for Dummies by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

dhammapal
Posts: 1706
Joined: Sun Nov 01, 2009 9:23 am
Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Sat Apr 14, 2018 5:31 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

dhammapal
Posts: 1706
Joined: Sun Nov 01, 2009 9:23 am
Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Mon Apr 16, 2018 12:16 pm

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:So when you reflect on your body, it’s also important to reflect on the bodies of others, to make comparisons — the right comparisons. The same with feelings and the other frames of reference. This is to counteract what are our usually very unskillful ways of making comparisons: such as thinking that we’re better than other people in terms of our body, or worse than other people in terms of our body. They are more beautiful than we are, younger than we: That’s being worse. Or the people who say, “I’m better than other people from another race, just because of the color of my skin”: That’s a very unskillful kind of comparison. “I’ve got a better mind than other people. I’ve got a worse mind than other people.” These are forms of conceit that the Buddha says are unhelpful ways of comparing that make you either proud or discouraged, neither of which are useful emotions to bring to the path.
From: Antidotes for Narcissism by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

dhammapal
Posts: 1706
Joined: Sun Nov 01, 2009 9:23 am
Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Tue Apr 17, 2018 12:41 pm

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:When fear, greed, anger, or delusion come up in the mind, it's not necessarily helpful to express them outside because sometimes that makes it difficult to observe what's going on, too. There has to be a middle way between the expression and the suppression. This is important. Often as you meditate you try to tell yourself, "Don't react. Just be equanimous. Don't get excited. Don't get worked up about things." And then you try to convince yourself that that's what's actually happening. You see ideals of what an enlightened person is like — very calm, peaceful, equanimous — and you try to clone the calm, to clone the equanimity. Remember, though, that Right Cloning is not one of the factors of the Path.
From: Suppressed Emotions by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

dhammapal
Posts: 1706
Joined: Sun Nov 01, 2009 9:23 am
Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Thu Apr 19, 2018 9:20 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote: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.
From: Using Meditation to Deal with Pain, Illness & Death by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

dhammapal
Posts: 1706
Joined: Sun Nov 01, 2009 9:23 am
Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Thu Apr 19, 2018 3:08 pm

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:When the Buddha talks about sensuality, he doesn’t say that you’re attached to sights or sounds. The word kama, or sensuality, here doesn’t mean beautiful or desirable sights, sounds, smells, tastes, or tactile sensations. It means the plans and intentions you have around these things. That’s what we’re really focused on. We’re all attached to the ideas we have of the things we want, wanting them to be a certain way to give us pleasure. In other words, we’re more attached to our dreams and plans about sensual pleasures than we are to the sensual pleasures themselves. This is simple enough to see. If you find your sensual desire thwarted in one area, you turn around and you focus it on something else. The desire is what we cling to. We cling to the plans that we make for sensual pleasure.
From: Antidotes for Clinging by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

dhammapal
Posts: 1706
Joined: Sun Nov 01, 2009 9:23 am
Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Thu Apr 19, 2018 11:54 pm

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:Here we are in the human realm with all its human pleasures. [When you're dying] you start thinking about the fact that you won’t sense these pleasures anymore: You won’t see any beautiful sunsets, you won’t see any rock canyons, you won’t taste any delicious food — all the other pleasures you can think of. You have to put them aside, and one of the ways you can deal with that is to realize that there are better pleasures, on other levels of being, up in the heavens.

There’s a sutta where the Buddha advises a person who’s counseling someone who’s dying to say, “Well, there are better pleasures than that.” When you get the person focused on one level of heaven, you say, “Well, there are better pleasures than that.” When the person is focused on the brahma worlds, you tell the person that even those brahma pleasures are inconstant. They’re not going to last. Brahmas still have self-identity, which means they still suffer, even if it’s only a subtle level. If the mind is really ready, it can actually let go at that point.
From: Don't Worry, Be Focused by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

dhammapal
Posts: 1706
Joined: Sun Nov 01, 2009 9:23 am
Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Fri Apr 20, 2018 1:43 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:It’s interesting that when the Buddha talks about people who are wealthy but extremely miserly and frugal, he doesn’t say that it’s really good that they’ve learned how to put aside sensual desires. He said there’s something really wrong with them. If they can’t learn how to appreciate some pleasures for themselves, how are they going to appreciate other people’s having pleasure? They’re going to be jealous. They’re going to be resentful. So he does encourage sensory pleasure in moderation. He says there are pleasures that are perfectly harmless for the mind.
From: So Little Time by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

dhammapal
Posts: 1706
Joined: Sun Nov 01, 2009 9:23 am
Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Mon Apr 23, 2018 2:05 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:We have a cultural bias here in the West. It goes back to the Romantics: the belief that you went out in nature, and tried to let nature inspire you. That’s how you soaked up spiritual truths. You made yourself totally receptive — open, spacious, non-reactive, non-judging, non-verbal. As one thinker said, he went out in nature and allowed himself to become a giant eyeball, transparent in all directions, soaking up all the of interconnectedness. That idea is stuck in our society, so that now, when Buddhism comes to the West, we read the different definitions of mindfulness, and the spacious and receptive ones are the ones that seems to strike a chord. We think that’s it. Some people say that a moment of mindfulness is a moment of awakening and leave everything right there. Well, it’s a fabrication.

There are plenty of passages in the Canon where the Buddha does not describe mindfulness as being just open and receptive, non-reactive. For example, he says that when you detect unskillful qualities in the mind, you have to get rid of them with the same sense of urgency, relentlessness, and mindfulness that you’d use in putting out a fire on your head.

He also compares mindfulness to walking between a crowd on one side and a beauty queen dancing and singing on the other side, while you’re carrying a bowl of oil on your head. And there’s a man walking behind you with a raised sword. Wherever you spill even a drop of oil, he’s going to cut off your head. And so, as the Buddha said, you would not allow yourself to be distracted either way, either to the crowd or to the beauty queen. You have to be focused very intently on that bowl of oil. That, the Buddha said, is a symbol for mindfulness — in this case, mindfulness of the body.

So there’s a lot in the Canon to show that mindfulness is not necessarily an open, receptive mind state. Sometimes you are mindful to be open and receptive, but other times, you’re mindful to be very focused and doing your best to delight in abandoning and to delight in developing.
From: The Path is Fabricated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

dhammapal
Posts: 1706
Joined: Sun Nov 01, 2009 9:23 am
Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Fri Apr 27, 2018 11:22 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:I recently received a letter from a doctor who was claiming that modern psychology has made an advance over Buddhism in that Buddhism deals only with the problem of suffering, while modern psychology deals with suffering and also gives meaning to life. I don’t think he understands the depth of the problem of suffering. Once you really eradicate suffering, what remains to your life, the meaning of what you want to do with it, is very clear. And it will vary from person to person. But the big issue facing everybody is digging out the roots of suffering. Once those roots are dug out, then the question of meaning is no longer a problem. Why does the question of meaning bother us? There must be some suffering, there must be some stress surrounding it. We look into it. Why does there have to be a meaning to things? What’s the suffering that comes from there not being a meaning? Dig into it. Look into it.
From: A Light in the Darkness by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

dhammapal
Posts: 1706
Joined: Sun Nov 01, 2009 9:23 am
Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Sun Apr 29, 2018 10:33 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:When the ajaans talk about conventional truths, they don’t contrast them with ultimate truths. In other words, they don’t maintain, for example, that to say that there’s such a person as Lionel or Isabella or Than Isaac, or whoever, is just a conventional truth; whereas saying that they’re aggregates is an ultimate truth. Instead, the ajaans contrast conventional truths with release, which means that even talking about everybody here in terms of aggregates would still be a convention. So these are conventions. They’re to be used. When properly used, they lead to something that’s not words, but we need to use the words to get there. We need to use the truths.
From: Right View about Right View by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

dhammapal
Posts: 1706
Joined: Sun Nov 01, 2009 9:23 am
Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Tue May 01, 2018 10:31 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:Sometimes when issues in life get very difficult, we’ve got to find some stillness. As you’re sitting here meditating, part of you may say, “There are these issues I’ve got to deal with.” So ask yourself: Are you up to it? If you are, go ahead. If not, just stay there in the concentration. Concentration is a form of strength. It’s one of five ways the Buddha lists for strengthening the mind.
From: The Wounded Warrior by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

dhammapal
Posts: 1706
Joined: Sun Nov 01, 2009 9:23 am
Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Fri May 04, 2018 4:22 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:Conviction in the principle of karma requires that you make a commitment not to hedge your bets. You’re going to depend totally on the skillfulness of your own intentions to whatever extent you can develop that skillfulness. That’s the principle to which you have to devote yourself.

As for other principles or lack of principles, let them go. Sometimes this feels a little scary. You’re so used to hedging your bets so that at least you’re popular, at least you’ve got connections, so that if the principle of karma doesn’t work out you’ve got something else to fall back on. But to be really committed to the principle of karma, to get the best results from it, you have to be committed.
From: Generating Power by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

dhammapal
Posts: 1706
Joined: Sun Nov 01, 2009 9:23 am
Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Sun May 06, 2018 5:59 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:When I first went to stay with Ajaan Fuang, he said that lesson number one in meditation is keeping control of your mouth. In other words, before you say anything, ask yourself: “Is this necessary? Is this beneficial? Is there a good reason to say this?” If there is, then go ahead and say it. If not, then keep quiet. As he said, if you can’t control your mouth there’s no way you’re going to control your mind. And when you make a habit of asking yourself these questions, you find that very little conversation is really necessary.

If you’re at work and you need to talk to your fellow workers to create a good atmosphere in the workplace, that counts as necessary speech. But often social-grease speech goes beyond that. You start getting careless, running off with your mouth, and that turns into idle chatter, which is not only a waste of energy but also a source of danger. There’s so much grease that it gums up the works. Often the things people say that cause the most harm are when they’re just allowing whatever comes in their mind to go right out their mouth without any restraint at all.

Now if observing this principle means that you gain a reputation for being a quiet person, well, that’s fine. You find that your words, if you’re more careful about doling them out, start taking on more worth. At the same time you’re creating a better atmosphere for your mind. After all, if you’re constantly chattering all day long, how are you going to stop the mental chatter when you sit down to meditate? But if you develop this habit of watching over your mouth, the same habit then comes to apply to the meditation. All those mouths in your mind start going still.
From: A Meditative Life by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

dhammapal
Posts: 1706
Joined: Sun Nov 01, 2009 9:23 am
Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Tue May 08, 2018 5:36 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:You have a liver, a gall bladder, a large intestine, 24 hours out of the day. You’ve been carrying this thing around with you all the time — “this thing” being whichever part gives you a sense of how odd or disgusting or unclean or peculiar this body is, whichever part hits you in any way that’s helpful for contemplating. Here you’ve been taking so much care of this, looking after it so much, and this is all you’ve got to show for all that effort.

We’re not bad-mouthing the body, we’re just looking at it for what it is. Ultimately we want to learn how to use it simply as a tool without attachment, but to counteract the attachment you’ve got to go very far in the other direction to counteract all the hype, all the slick advertising slogans you’ve used to sell yourself on the body: about how important it is, how essential it is, all the good things that come from looking after it very carefully, doing all the yoga, giving it exercise, eating all the right foods. You can do those things and yet still it’s going to age, grow ill, and die.
From: Contemplation of the Body by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

dhammapal
Posts: 1706
Joined: Sun Nov 01, 2009 9:23 am
Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Mon May 14, 2018 4:08 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:We saw all that insanity after 9/11, where people were willing to throw morality out the window because they were so scared. There was even that Buddhist teacher who said, “This principle that hatred is never appeased by hatred, that it’s only appeased by non-hatred, i.e. goodwill,” was totally useless. Didn’t have any practical application when things were so uncertain.

Actually, though, that principle was designed for times when people really are seething with hatred, when they have to be reminded that you can’t put aside your principles in a situation like that. When life is in danger, your first impulse may be not your best impulse at all. You need clear-cut precepts to keep reminding you that under no circumstances would you kill, steal, have illicit sex, lie, or take intoxicants. That’s why the precepts are so simple, to be easy to remember in difficult situations.
From: The Ennobling Path by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

dhammapal
Posts: 1706
Joined: Sun Nov 01, 2009 9:23 am
Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Wed May 16, 2018 8:01 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:Our idea of truth is pretty sketchy. How could you possibly know the total truth of the situation in which you’re located? It would require a knowledge down to the sub-atomic particles and out to the edge of the universe — maybe even beyond the edge of the universe. That would be impossible. So to deal with possibilities, the mind lives by its sketches. Recognizing this fact is a useful step. “This sketch that I’m living with: Is it a useful sketch? Is it helpful?” It may have certain true details here and there, but you have to realize that no idea of your surroundings is going to be a totally adequate representation of what those surroundings are. The best you can do is ask if your sketch is adequate to your needs, your healthy needs, and in particular to your desire to put an end to suffering.
From: Moving Between Thought Worlds by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

dhammapal
Posts: 1706
Joined: Sun Nov 01, 2009 9:23 am
Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Sun May 20, 2018 8:18 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:Ajaan Fuang once said that if we could force our way into nirvana, everybody would have arrived there a long time ago. But it’s not something you can do by force. You ultimately get there only through discernment. And discernment starts with learning how to think in the right way. It doesn’t cost anything, doesn’t require a lot of energy: just allowing yourself to think in skillful ways. That can turn you around right there, and head you in the right direction. So before you stop thinking, learn how to think in ways that are really helpful, allow yourself to think in ways that are really helpful, and it will make all the difference in your practice.
From: The Thinking Cure by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: jrob1989, lyndon taylor, robertk, Sam Vara and 76 guests