The Quotable Thanissaro

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

Post by dhammapal » Fri May 17, 2019 4:21 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:The conflict between retributive justice and true happiness is well illustrated by the famous story of Aṅgulimāla (MN 86). Aṅgulimāla was a bandit who had killed so many people — the Canon counts at least 100; the Commentary, 999 — that he wore a garland (māla) made of their fingers (aṅguli). Yet after an encounter with the Buddha, he had such an extreme change of heart that he abandoned his violent ways, awakened a sense of compassion, and eventually became an arahant.

The story is a popular one, and most of us like to identify with Aṅgulimāla: If a person with his history could gain awakening, there’s hope for us all. But in identifying with him, we forget the feelings of those he had terrorized and the relatives of those he had killed. After all, he had literally gotten away with murder. It’s easy to understand, then, as the story tells us, that when Aṅgulimāla was going for alms after his awakening, people would throw stones at him, and he’d return from his almsround, “his head broken open and dripping with blood, his bowl broken, and his outer robe ripped to shreds.” As the Buddha reassured him, his wounds were nothing compared to the sufferings he would have undergone if he hadn’t reached awakening. And if the outraged people had fully satisfied their thirst for justice, meting out the suffering they thought he deserved, he wouldn’t have had the chance to reach awakening at all. So his was a case in which the end of suffering took precedence over justice in any common sense of the word.

Aṅgulimāla’s case illustrates a general principle stated in AN 3:101: If the workings of kamma required strict, tit-for-tat justice — with your having to experience the consequences of each act just as you inflicted it on others — there’s no way that anyone could reach the end of suffering. The reason we can reach awakening is because even though actions of a certain type give a corresponding type of result, the intensity of how that result is felt is determined, not only by the original action, but also — and more importantly — by our state of mind when the results ripen. If you’ve developed unlimited goodwill and equanimity, and have trained well in virtue, discernment, and the ability to be overcome neither by pleasure nor pain, then when the results of past bad actions ripen, you’ll hardly experience them at all.
From: Wisdom over Justice by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

dhammapal
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Sat May 18, 2019 3:17 pm

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:They’ve done studies of people going through psychotherapy, trying to figure out which method — Jungian, Freudian, or whatever — works best. And they’ve discovered that the actual method doesn’t make all that much difference. What *does* make a difference is the ability of the patient to get inside his or her body, to fully inhabit the body, and then from that standpoint to work through whatever issues there are in the mind. This is what you’re doing as you work with the breath. You’re getting into the body, getting more sensitive to the body, creating a new center of gravity for yourself, a new area of sensitivity.
From: Seeing with the Body by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

dhammapal
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Sat May 25, 2019 3:13 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:All of the Buddha's really basic teachings have to do with action, which is why kamma is so central to what he taught. Kamma consists of your intentions, and your intentions are shaped by your views. If your views are concerned with what you are or what the world is, you’re going to be sloppy in your actions. But if your views deal with what are you doing, what kind of actions are skillful, what kind of actions are not skillful, they focus your attention where it really can make a difference — where it really can be of use. The rest of the path then follows on that. You make up your mind that you’re going to act on intentions that are not harmful, and you apply that principle to your daily life.
From: Expert's Mind by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

dhammapal
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Sun Jun 02, 2019 7:36 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:You’ve probably heard the rumor that “Life is suffering” is Buddhism’s first principle, the Buddha’s first noble truth. It’s a rumor with good credentials, spread by well-respected academics and Dharma teachers alike, but a rumor nonetheless. The truth about the noble truths is far more interesting. The Buddha taught four truths — not one — about life: There is suffering, there is a cause for suffering, there is an end of suffering, and there is a path of practice that puts an end to suffering. These truths, taken as a whole, are far from pessimistic. They’re a practical, problem-solving approach — the way a doctor approaches an illness, or a mechanic a faulty engine. You identify a problem and look for its cause. You then put an end to the problem by eliminating the cause.
From: Life Isn't Just Suffering by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

dhammapal
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Mon Jun 03, 2019 9:21 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:When you see the Buddha’s definition of ignorance, it doesn’t mean having preconceived notions. It doesn’t mean trying to change things. Ignorance means not seeing things in terms of the four noble truths. For most of us, that definition of ignorance describes the normal state of our mind. We’re thinking about other issues, other problems, usually based around our sense of who we are and what we need to keep who we are going — or around the people, the relationships we love, to keep them going as well. Those kinds of issues, those kinds of questions the Buddha said, are ignorance from the point of view of trying to put an end to suffering. So even though you may have responsibilities in the world, put them aside at least for the time being. The mind will be a lot stronger if you can.
From: A Clear Agenda by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

dhammapal
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Tue Jun 04, 2019 7:21 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:Not all sensual pleasures are bad. As the Buddha said, he doesn’t deny that some pleasures can be in accord with the Dhamma. But it’s an issue for each one of us to figure out which are okay for us and which ones are not. There are some general principles. The pleasure that comes from going out into nature is relatively harmless, as are the pleasure of solitude and the pleasure of being in the company of virtuous people when there’s a sense of harmony in the group.
From: Don’t Just Fatten Your Mind by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Fri Jun 07, 2019 9:30 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:So you try to comprehend [the suffering]. And as you see the suffering, you begin to realize where it comes from. It comes from craving, and that’s what you abandon. All too often, we try to abandon the suffering. It’s like coming into your house and finding that it’s full of smoke — so you try to put out the smoke. When we try to push the suffering away, it’s like putting out the smoke without putting out the fire. There’s going to be more smoke all the time. You’ve got to find the fire. It’s the craving. That’s what you abandon. When you can do that, then you realize the third noble truth, the cessation of suffering, which comes from the cessation of craving. In other words, you put out the fire and the smoke disappears on its own. And you put out the fire by developing the path.
From: The Buddha's Letter by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Sun Jun 09, 2019 9:01 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:Often mettā is translated as loving-kindness, but that’s one of the misunderstandings. Mettā has nothing to do with love. It’s all about goodwill. You can have goodwill for people without loving them and even without liking them — in fact, when you don’t like people, that’s when you need to develop mettā for them the most.

Basically, goodwill — when understood in the light of kamma — is the wish that people understand the causes for happiness and act on that understanding. This is something you can wish for anyone, even people who are very evil or whom you dislike intensely.
From: Sublime Attitudes by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

dhammapal
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Tue Jun 18, 2019 4:37 pm

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:You don’t have to think about whether beings are lovable or not lovable. It’s just that when you think about all the suffering there is in the world, you should say, “Isn’t there already enough? Do you have to wish more suffering on yourself, or more suffering on other people? Wouldn’t it be better if we could all learn how to be skillful?” This, of course, doesn’t mean that everybody will be skillful or that everybody will find true happiness. It also doesn’t mean that you don’t protect yourself from other people’s unskillfulness. All too often we confuse the idea of metta with a kind of Pollyanna-ish attitude toward life that everybody deep down inside is a good person and if we would only allow them to show their goodness, they would be very happy to show that goodness. Well, that’s not always the case. There are a lot of people who, when you’re good to them, will see that as a sign of weakness. So you have to protect yourself. But the trick is learning how to protect yourself in a way that’s not harming anyone. The breath is helpful here when you’ve developed a sense of your own energy field being filled with good breath energy. That makes it harder for people’s unskillful energy to invade your field.
From: Unsentimental Goodwill by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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