Thanissaro/radical acceptance

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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tiltbillings
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Thanissaro/radical acceptance

Post by tiltbillings » Wed Feb 25, 2015 6:12 am

The following was quoted here.
    • Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:Sometimes you hear the idea that when you meditate you’re supposed to practice radical acceptance, as if that’s what the path were all about. While you accept what’s actually going on, you’ve got to do a lot more. You’ve got to learn how to be skeptical about what’s going on as well. These stories that the mind tells itself: Why believe them? What do you gain by believing them? Are they really true? How much do you know about their truth? Even if they are true, are they really beneficial? You’ve got to have a certain skeptical ear as you listen to these thoughts, and a skeptical eye as you observe what they’re doing.
I generally don't read the Quotable Thanissaro thread, but looking at it recently I bumped into the above quote. I would not necessarily use the words "radical acceptance," but I am guessing that Thanissaro is addressing something like "bare attention" or "judgment-free awareness," and if he is, I don't think he understands what it means either conceptually or in actual practice. This thread gives a more accurate look at what it is that Thanissaro might be objecting to. Another lengthy thread here.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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Re: Thanissaro/radical acceptance

Post by jnak » Wed Feb 25, 2015 7:39 am

If I understand him correctly, Thanissaro Bhikkhu maintains that the Buddha did not teach people to accept whatever thoughts happen to arise. Rather, we should do something about them. On the other hand, I don't know that he would object to the quotes in the post that you linked to. I know that I don't necessarily consider them mutually exclusive ideas. Context matters, after all.
"...I'm not much of an expert when it comes to the texts. I've simply learned a few parts, and put them into practice." Ajaan Lee Dhammadharo

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Re: Thanissaro/radical acceptance

Post by mikenz66 » Wed Feb 25, 2015 8:26 am

I enjoy listening to Ven Thanissaro's thought-provoking talks, and I think he has some interesting perspectives on the Dhamma. However I would find him, and a number of other prominent teachers, much more readable if they would stick to simply explaining their interpretation of the Dhamma. I don't understand why some teachers feel the need to criticise others, apparently on the basis of a rather superficial knowledge of what those others are actually teaching (see Tilt's last link).

:anjali:
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Anagarika
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Re: Thanissaro/radical acceptance

Post by Anagarika » Wed Feb 25, 2015 1:20 pm

My sense is that Ven. Thanissaro is looking at aspects of teachings that are widely seen in the west, and while not "calling out" Zen or other Mahayana schools, is distinguishing between some of these concepts and what the Suttas are teaching. I see no problem with that, and I am sure that is the context from which he is teaching.

All of us can take a phrase like "nonjudgmental awareness" and find Sutta or Ajahn support for it in isolation or in a particular context. The question becomes, does this kind of western or secularized material stand up to the scrutiny offered by the primary teachings of the Buddha? Most often, no. And in that sense, Ven. Thanissaro is performing an important function: a guardian (among other Theravada Ajahns) of the BuddhaDhamma. I sense from his other talks that he makes some effort to distinguish between what is in the common western marketplace about 'Buddhism,' and what the Buddha taught from the Early Texts.

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Re: Thanissaro/radical acceptance

Post by Samma » Wed Feb 25, 2015 9:15 pm

He probably picked up on this pop-dharma book:
https://books.google.com/books?id=AlfnvT4sNo0C" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;"
Seems kind of fluffy-buddhism, radical acceptance™ used over and over instead of a term like mindfulness to help distinguish the product perhaps. I suppose it probably serves as a variation on his criticism of bare attention stuff.

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tiltbillings
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Re: Thanissaro/radical acceptance

Post by tiltbillings » Wed Feb 25, 2015 10:02 pm

Samma wrote:He probably picked up on this pop-dharma book:
https://books.google.com/books?id=AlfnvT4sNo0CSeems kind of fluffy-buddhism, radical acceptance™ used over and over instead of a term like mindfulness to help distinguish the product perhaps. I suppose it probably serves as a variation on his criticism of bare attention stuff.
I think you are correct. I suspect it is meant as a variation of his ham-handed criticism of "bare attention," that we find in his book. It is something he seems to not understand either conceptually or from a standpoint of practice.

As for the Tara Bach's book, I cannot comment on it since I do not have access to it. It may be in need of a sharp criticism, but Thanissaro has gone after the likes Joseph Goldstein, quoting him without acknowledgement and without consideration of context, so I would not put much stock in his characterization.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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tiltbillings
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Re: Thanissaro/radical acceptance

Post by tiltbillings » Wed Feb 25, 2015 10:08 pm

Anagarika wrote: All of us can take a phrase like "nonjudgmental awareness" and find Sutta or Ajahn support for it in isolation or in a particular context. The question becomes, does this kind of western or secularized material stand up to the scrutiny offered by the primary teachings of the Buddha? Most often, no. And in that sense, Ven. Thanissaro is performing an important function: a guardian (among other Theravada Ajahns) of the BuddhaDhamma. I sense from his other talks that he makes some effort to distinguish between what is in the common western marketplace about 'Buddhism,' and what the Buddha taught from the Early Texts.
Well, if he clearly was addressing the secularized stuff, that would be one thing, but in the essay in question and certainly in the book on mindfulness he seems to going after the very concept itself.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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Re: Thanissaro/radical acceptance

Post by retrofuturist » Wed Feb 25, 2015 10:36 pm

Greetings,

Is this the old "Right Effort" debate again?... About whether negative dhammas that arise are to be passively watched, or actively transformed?

Metta,
Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view." (MN 117)

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Re: Thanissaro/radical acceptance

Post by Samma » Wed Feb 25, 2015 10:51 pm

click on the book cover of Tara Bach's book and it will allow limited view and search.
Without acknowledgement thing is about a rule where a monk does not name in criticism unless asked or something like that...maybe someone can point it out.

I know you like Goldstein, who he criticizes along with Bhante G and Analayo I think? I rather like Thanissaros approach and book, and emphasis on ardency. He has criticized choiceless awarness some places as well. And other things. But other threads have been over this. And people criticism him. No one is without criticism, such is the way of the world, sigh. :meditate:

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Mr Man
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Re: Thanissaro/radical acceptance

Post by Mr Man » Wed Feb 25, 2015 11:43 pm

If we take the quote by itself I think it's fairly sound advice. In my experience it is fairly easy for the mind to take a number of ideas from a number of different places and to create our own mishmash view which we perceive to be "understanding".

I'm not sure were "radical acceptance" comes from but to me it sounds like an attractive view for the mind to take hold of.

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Re: Thanissaro/radical acceptance

Post by Goofaholix » Wed Feb 25, 2015 11:49 pm

The trouble with the word acceptance is that it implies passivity, "Oh well" mind, I don't know of anyone who teaches it like that though.

Acceptance needs to be active, interested, and engaged. Acceptance doesn't mean just acceptance at face value, I think that's what Thanissaro is talking about.
“Peace is within oneself to be found in the same place as agitation and suffering. It is not found in a forest or on a hilltop, nor is it given by a teacher. Where you experience suffering, you can also find freedom from suffering. Trying to run away from suffering is actually to run toward it.” ― Ajahn Chah

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Re: Thanissaro/radical acceptance

Post by SarathW » Thu Feb 26, 2015 1:00 am

What is the Pali word for radical acceptance?
:thinking:
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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Re: Thanissaro/radical acceptance

Post by Dhammanando » Thu Feb 26, 2015 3:18 am

Here's an interview with Tara Brach on this subject. I haven't yet listened to it myself as it's only at around 3:00 am that my internet connection is fast enough to view youtube.


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Re: Thanissaro/radical acceptance

Post by pegembara » Thu Feb 26, 2015 4:27 am

SarathW wrote:What is the Pali word for radical acceptance?
:thinking:
I would think it is suchness or thusness or tathata.

"Everything is as it should be."....?
Tathata (suchness, thusness). "Merely thus," "just such": everything is such as it is and in no way different from that thusness. This is called "tathata." When tathata is seen, the three characteristics of anicca, dukkha, and anatta are seen, sunnata is seen, and idappaccayata is seen. Tathata is the summary of them all -- merely thus, only thus, not-otherness. There is nothing better than this, more than this, other than this, thusness. To intuitively realize tathata is to see the truth of all things, to see the reality of the things which have deceived us. The things which delude us are all the things which cause discrimination and duality to arise in us: good-evil, happiness-sadness, win-lose, love-hate, etc. There are many pairs of opposites in this world. By not seeing tathata, we allow these things to trick us into believing in duality: this-that, liking-disliking, hot-cold, male-female, defiled, enlightened. This delusion causes all our problems. Trapped in these oppositions, we can't see the truth of things. We fall into liking and disliking, which in turn leads to the defilements, because we don't see tathata.

Buddhadasa
The Zen expression is "Ïs that so?"

The Zen master Hakuin was praised by his neighbours as one living a pure life.

A beautiful Japanese girl whose parents owned a food store lived near him. Suddenly, without any warning, her parents discovered she was with child.

This made her parents angry. She would not confess who the man was, but after much harassment at last named Hakuin.

In great anger the parent went to the master. "Is that so?" was all he would say.

After the child was born it was brought to Hakuin. By this time he had lost his reputation, which did not trouble him, but he took very good care of the child. He obtained milk from his neighbours and everything else he needed.

A year later the girl-mother could stand it no longer. She told her parents the truth - the real father of the child was a young man who worked in the fishmarket.

The mother and father of the girl at once went to Hakuin to ask forgiveness, to apologize at length, and to get the child back.

Hakuin was willing. In yielding the child, all he said was: "Is that so?"

"Whatever is seen or heard or sensed
and fastened onto as true by others,
One who is Such — among the self-fettered —
wouldn't further claim to be true or even false.


"Having seen well in advance that arrow
where generations are fastened & hung
'I know, I see, that's just how it is!' —
there's nothing of the Tathagata fastened."

Kalaka Sutta
And what is right speech? Abstaining from lying, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, & from idle chatter: This is called right speech.

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Re: Thanissaro/radical acceptance

Post by robertk » Thu Feb 26, 2015 5:17 am

SarathW wrote:What is the Pali word for radical acceptance?
:thinking:
Satisampajjana?

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