The Quotable Thanissaro

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dhammapal
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Mon Oct 15, 2018 5:03 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:People have tried to import Western ideas of objective justice into the Buddha’s teachings — some have even suggested that this will be one of the great Western contributions to Buddhism, filling in a serious lack — but there is no way that those ideas can be forced on the Dhamma without doing serious damage to the Buddhist worldview. This fact, in and of itself, has prompted many people to advocate jettisoning the Buddhist worldview and replacing it with something closer to one of our own. But a careful look at that worldview, and the consequences that the Buddha drew from it, shows that the Buddha’s teachings on how to find social harmony without recourse to objective standards of justice has much to recommend it.
From: Wisdom over Justice by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Tue Oct 23, 2018 9:31 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:The Buddha gives you the Dhamma, he gives us the Dhamma to learn about how to separate yourself from the body so even when the body's aging, the mind you remind yourself is not aging. The body may be growing ill but the mind doesn't have to be ill. The body may die but the mind doesn't die. Remember that, always keep that in mind so you don't get too tied up in the pain and the worry that comes with these things.

That way you've got your weapons inside to protect yourself, and to protect yourself from thoughts coming in from outside. There's so much garbage in the media these days, you need the teachings of the Buddha to remind you that what's really important in life is looking after your own mind. The media says that the important things in life are what other people are doing someplace else, their only concern for you is for you to buy their goods. But the Buddha had a lot more concern for you than that. His concern was, “Why are you making yourself suffer? Here's a way to think, here's a way to train your mind so it doesn't have to suffer.”

Even though we're born into a world of aging, illness and death, the mind doesn't need to suffer. That's something you always want to keep in mind, that's your protection.
From: Weaponize Good Thoughts by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Thu Nov 01, 2018 3:45 pm

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:Some people often complain that the precepts are too narrow. For instance, there is a precept against killing, but no precept against eating meat. People say, “Well, if you’re eating meat, then you’re encouraging other people to kill the animals.” But the precepts focus on the area where you are absolutely in control, where you are in charge. And that means that they focus specifically on what you do and what you tell other people to do. You can control that.

Beyond that, you cannot control. All too often, when we focus on things that are beyond our control, we forget to look at what we can control. So the precepts are there to focus on what you can control. If you decide that you don’t want to eat meat, that’s perfectly fine, but the precepts start with what you are doing and what you are telling other people to do. That’s what you are responsible for. And again, that is focusing yourself back on the way your life is shaped by your intentions and your desires. You have to be responsible for those.
From: The Wisdom of Goodness by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Mon Nov 05, 2018 11:55 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:The Buddha never said that life is suffering. He said there is suffering in life. That was his first noble truth. And he identified what that suffering is, but he went on to say that there is a cause for suffering that you can abandon, and there is a path to the end of suffering that you can develop, so that you can reach the end of suffering, all of which can be found in life.

So life isn’t just suffering. It’s important to underline that point, because so many people misunderstand the Buddha’s attitude toward happiness and suffering. Just this last weekend, I heard someone saying that the Buddha’s basic teachings are that all things are inconstant and all things are suffering. That’s not the case, either. As the Buddha once said, if there were no pleasure in the five aggregates, we wouldn’t be attached to them. They do offer pleasure. And we need to understand the different kinds of pleasure they offer, so we can use that pleasure as a means to the highest happiness or the highest pleasure: nibbana.
From: A Connoisseur of Happiness by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Thu Nov 15, 2018 10:43 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:Other ajaans talk about getting angry at their defilements, and that’s perfectly fine. As you get more skilled, you begin to see where the anger is unnecessary and then you can drop it. But don’t get waylaid by the type of thinking that criticizes you for being awfully passionate about your practice, or awfully attached to concentration, or awfully negative about a person you don’t want to associate with. Well, if you realize that associating with that kind of person is going to take you off the path, you’ve got to be careful. Heedfulness requires that you learn to be wary.

We’re often taught that the Dhamma’s all about trusting. And it’s true that you have to learn how to trust the Buddha and trust your desire for true happiness. But there are things you have to be wary of, both inside and out. I mean, that’s what heedfulness means. So we’re not being unkind when we decide that certain relationships have to be put on hold. And we haven’t wandered too far off the path if we decide that we really are sick and tired of having our sensual desires take us over, and we want something better than that. That’s how you motivate yourself.

So there are times when you use unskillful qualities to get rid of other unskillful qualities. Then, gradually, things will get more and more refined — especially as the path picks up momentum. The concentration itself becomes your motivation. The mindfulness becomes your motivation. Your insight becomes your motivation. All this is achieved by success through approximation.

So as Ajaan Lee points out in his talk on the various demons of defilement, some of them have their uses. You’re a fighter as you meditate, and some of the most intelligent fighters are the ones who not only beat the enemy, but can also actually convert the enemy to their side.

You do have to be wary about these things. But as long as you’re alert, you’re heading in the right direction.
From: Success by Approximation by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Sun Nov 18, 2018 8:12 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:You sometimes hear that everyone deserves your compassion because they all have Buddha-nature. But this ignores the primary reason for developing compassion as a brahmavihāra in the first place: You need to make your compassion universal so that you can trust your intentions. If you regard your compassion as so precious that only Buddhas deserve it, you won’t be able to trust yourself when encountering people whose actions are consistently evil.
From: Head & Heart Together: Bringing Wisdom to the Brahmavihāras by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Thu Dec 13, 2018 11:43 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:[At Wat Metta] we’re living in an economy of gifts. You look around you: The whole monastery, everything here is a gift. As we saw this evening, the people who came to help build the shed, they weren’t being paid to do it. Nobody’s forcing them to do it. It’s a gift of time and energy. Every building we have here, every little piece of decoration, every Buddha image: It’s all a gift. The fact that it’s a gift helps to break down barriers.

This is why the monks in Thailand often refer to their lay supporters in the same way they would refer to family, relatives, yaat, whether or not they’re really yaat in the technical sense. There’s a sense of extended family.

Now sometimes this may mean that the monastery’s not run like a tight ship. I’ve known people with military backgrounds who’ve expressed despair about how the monastery is run. But it runs on naam jai, the Thai word for voluntary spirit or good spirit in the heart, good humor in the heart. And that’s a fuel that doesn’t run dry — as long as we learn how to respect one another’s naam jai and learn how to keep it going with good humor and the sense of voluntary spirit, the sense of gift-giving. We’re doing good because it’s a good thing to do. It makes us happy. Always keep that point in mind.
From: Volunteer Spirit by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by Manopubbangama » Thu Dec 13, 2018 12:06 pm

dhammapal wrote:
Mon Oct 15, 2018 5:03 am
Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:People have tried to import Western ideas of objective justice into the Buddha’s teachings — some have even suggested that this will be one of the great Western contributions to Buddhism, filling in a serious lack — but there is no way that those ideas can be forced on the Dhamma without doing serious damage to the Buddhist worldview. This fact, in and of itself, has prompted many people to advocate jettisoning the Buddhist worldview and replacing it with something closer to one of our own. But a careful look at that worldview, and the consequences that the Buddha drew from it, shows that the Buddha’s teachings on how to find social harmony without recourse to objective standards of justice has much to recommend it.
From: Wisdom over Justice by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
I love that quote.

I think the 'social justice' movement is a huge threat to the fledgling Buddhist Sangha in the West.

Another thing I love about Thanissaro is that he doesn't get into the dhamma-book-circuit at the Eastern Mysticism section in Barnes & Noble, but gives his work away as a free gift of the Dhamma.

dhammapal
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Fri Dec 21, 2018 11:43 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:Think of how much richer our nation would be if our woods harbored people of recognizable spiritual attainment and genuine insight, who offered definitive answers to these issues [of aging, illness and death], and who were at the same time on good terms with the people in the towns. People disaffected with the market economy would have someone to turn to, and wouldn’t have to reinvent the dharma wheel every time they took to the wilds to live an authentic life. They’d have access to a dharma and discipline with a proven track record over the past two-and-a-half millennia for taking people beyond birth and death. They’d also be able to depend on an alms economy that would free them to pursue that dharma and discipline full-time.

In return, those who remained with one foot in the market economy would be able to tap into whatever wisdom their dropout friends had gained from their wilderness experience — wisdom that our current society simply throws away. If people in and out of the market economy could develop a rapport like this, our society as a whole might develop a healthier respect for the wilderness and for the need to keep it wild. As more wisdom came from the wilderness, our nation as a whole would become more civilized.

What would it take for this sort of rapport to take root? A critical mass of two sorts of people: good monastics, and lay people living on the fringes of the wilderness who have come to recognize and value good monastics. How long would it take to develop this critical mass? Certainly more than ten years. Ten decades might not be enough. Good monastics can’t be turned out with a cookie cutter. Each one takes lots of personal time and energy to train. And as for the trust that forms the bedrock for the lay-monastic relationship, that won’t become solid until the monastics’ integrity has been tested over time.

At the present, North America has only seven small monasteries in the Thai Forest Tradition, each a hothouse plant existing in a small bubble of lay support. Monks occasionally make forays outside the bubbles, discovering sympathetic pockets of potential support in different parts of the country, but the whole enterprise still feels tenuous and uncertain. I for one can’t foresee when or where our cultural climate will change to the point where the hothouse is no longer required.

But then, the unforeseeable has a way of happening. When I left the States for Thailand in 1976, I had no way of anticipating the warm response I’ve encountered as a monk since my return here ten years ago. One thing is certain, though: as hunters and gatherers, we have to regard everything that comes our way as a gift, so long-term planning is a futile exercise. All we can do is make ourselves worthy of gifts — which means that the first order of business is right at the breath, here and now.
From: Hunting & Gathering the Dharma by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by Benjamin » Wed Jan 02, 2019 9:17 am

Keeping this going for the new year!
We're faced with a choice. If we're sincere about wanting to end suffering and to give the Buddha's teachings a fair test, then — instead of assuming that he was a prisoner of his own time and place, unable to question his cultural assumptions — we have to examine the extent to which, in adhering to our own cultural assumptions, we're imprisoning ourselves. If we don't want to drop our self-imposed restrictions, we can still benefit from any of the Buddha's teachings that fit within those limitations, but we'll have to accept the consequences: that the results we'll get will be limited as well. Only if we're willing to submit to the test of appropriate attention, abandoning the presuppositions that distort our thinking about issues like karma and rebirth, will we be able to make full use of the Canon's tools for gaining total release.
(from "The Truth of Rebirth")
:candle: :buddha1: :candle:

dhammapal
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Wed Jan 16, 2019 10:54 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:I read recently where a teacher said he was writing with the purpose of getting people to get rid of their craving for awakening. That’s really destructive. The Buddha said that the desire for awakening, the desire to be skillful, to bring skillfulness to fruition, is part of the path. As Ven. Ananda said, the craving to gain awakening is something that’s necessary for the practice. So we’re working on this desire to create a better state of mind, a more solid state of mind, both because it gives a higher pleasure and because it puts the mind in a better position to see its movements — to see exactly where is that movement of craving. What does it look like? How do you recognize it? Where is the stress?
From: The Truth of Transcendence by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Sat Jan 19, 2019 7:47 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:I was reading a book several years back, comparing a Caucasian meditation center with a Thai temple. The woman who was doing the study was talking to one of the Caucasians one time, telling her that at the Thai temple they weren’t doing much meditation. It seemed a shame that they weren’t really practicing. And the woman in the center had the good sense to say, “Wait a minute. There’s more to the practice than just meditating.” She said, “Go back and look more carefully.” And sure enough, the people were practicing generosity, they were practicing virtue, they were teaching their children gratitude. And the woman who was doing the study began to realize that there’s more to the practice than just sitting here with your eyes closed. We’re developing all kinds of good qualities of the mind.

So you can look at your whole life as an opportunity to practice. This doesn’t mean that you just try to be mindful all the time or alert or aware all the time. There are many other qualities you’ve got to develop. One of the lists that’s useful to think about is the list of the perfections, the paramis. The list doesn’t come in the suttas, it actually comes as a result of gathering together all the Jataka tales that were connected with the Buddha’s previous lives. The compilers were trying to see: What are the qualities that the Buddha developed on his path? They sorted out the tales by the different qualities and they came up with ten: [generosity, virtue, renunciation, discernment, persistence, patience, truthfulness, determination, goodwill, equanimity].
From: Determination by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Wed Feb 06, 2019 2:21 pm

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:Notice that when the Buddha talks about being in the present moment or seeing clearly what’s going on in the present moment, it’s always a matter of actions and it’s always in context. The context is not that the present is a wonderful place to be or whatever, it’s simply that there’s work that has to be done right here, right now, and if you don’t do it right here, right now, it’s not going to get done because death could come at any time.

The shadow of death lies over all the Buddha’s teachings on the present moment. So, under the shadow of death, what should you be doing right now? What’s the most skillful thing? Are you frittering away your day, building up deflements? Or is there a better choice? The Buddha said, if you’re heedful, then you say, “I’ve got this breath. Let’s practice with this breath,” because you know you’ve got this breath. You don’t know about the next breath. But you do know that you’ve got this breath.

So, do it now. Do what is skillful now, conscious that you’re not just watching a TV show here. You’re not a totally passive audience to your life. Experience is more like an interactive game. You’ve got some input. And it turns out that you actually have more input into this than you do in an interactive game. You’re shaping all kinds of things here. And it’s because the mind has been doing this so long that you stop noticing it. So try to back up a bit. Be alert to what you’re doing and the results you’re getting from your actions. That’s the focus right now.
From: Alertness: What Are You Doing? by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Thu Feb 07, 2019 12:10 pm

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:Now, fear is not always an unskillful emotion. I've had many psychotherapists talk to me about this. They're curious about the fact that when the Buddha lists the roots of unskillful behavior, there's greed, aversion, delusion - or passion, aversion, and delusion. Where's the fear? For so many of them, fear is THE unskillful emotion. Well, that’s not necessarily the case. Actually, there are some good things to be afraid of.

Be afraid that you're going to do things unskillfully, be afraid you’re going to act in harmful ways. Be afraid of wasting your time – the time that could be devoted to developing the mind. Those kinds of fears come under what the Buddha calls ottappa - compunction or fear of wrong-doing. There's also the fear that comes with heedfulness: realizing that there are dangers out there and dangers in your own mind, and you've got to do something about them.

So fear isn't always unskillful. It's when the fear gets mixed up with the greed or aversion or delusion: That's when you got a problem.
From: Nurturing Your Inner Adult by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Wed Feb 20, 2019 8:40 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:Take the case that people are constantly using to argue that there are times when you have to lie: the case of Nazis at the door and Jews in the attic. What are you going to do? First you have to realize there are Nazis and there are Nazis. With some of them, all they need is an excuse not to have to go through your house. They don’t want to bother, so you say something that indicates to them that it’s not worth their bother to go in. There are other Nazis, though, who, regardless of what you say, are going to check the house. All too often it’s assumed that when you lie to Nazis they’ll believe you and then go away. But that covers only some of the cases. There are other cases where, if the Nazis sense that you’re lying, they’ll be even more interested in searching your house.

So first you’ve got to realize that you’re dealing with different kinds of situations here: one, in which no matter what you say there’s going to be trouble, and the other, in which you can deflect harm but without lying. So if they ask if you’re hiding Jews in the attic, you say, “I’m hiding nothing shameful in this house.”

This has two advantages. One, you can say it looking them straight in the eye. Some Nazis, like some policemen, can read your face. If they’re convinced you’re telling the truth — and you are telling the truth — they’ll leave you alone. The second advantage is this: Suppose you say, “I’ve got no Jews in the attic,” but they say, “We’re going to check anyhow,” and they find the Jews. When they come back out, they can give you a lecture on ethics: “Not only do you hide Jews but you also lie.” Imagine what it’d be like to be lectured by a Nazi. And, of course, they won’t stop with a lecture. They’ll take you away and torture you — and with your lie you’ve given them ammunition to torture you psychologically.

But if you tell them you’re hiding nothing shameful and yet they find the Jews, they’ll take the Jews out and say, “We thought you said you weren’t hiding anything,” and you say, “I said I was hiding nothing shameful; there’s nothing shameful about what I did.” Now, they may decide to arrest you then, too, but at least you have your honor and that’s something important. Our culture deprecates honor. But being able to maintain your honor is important. It’s part of your self-worth. If they decide to torture you, they won’t be able to use a lie against you.
From: Respect for the Precepts by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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