The Quotable Thanissaro

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
danieLion
Posts: 1947
Joined: Wed May 25, 2011 4:49 am

Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by danieLion » Thu Aug 02, 2012 5:37 am

Thanks Dmytro,
Kind wishes,
Daniel

danieLion
Posts: 1947
Joined: Wed May 25, 2011 4:49 am

Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by danieLion » Thu Aug 02, 2012 7:30 am

Introduction. to SN 22.60 To Mahāli: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Rev. Thanissaro wrote:Some schools of Buddhism teach that people are attached to things because they believe those things to have an inherent essence or existence. Here, however, the Buddha points out that people are attached to things because they pay attention to the pleasure offered by those things, and ignore the stress they cause. If, however, you turn our attention to the stress, you can gain release.
Handful of Leaves 5, p. 230 (this little introduction is not included online & IDK why).
Best,
Daniel

danieLion
Posts: 1947
Joined: Wed May 25, 2011 4:49 am

Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by danieLion » Sun Aug 05, 2012 3:31 am

From his introduction to Majjhima Nikaya 1
Rev. Thanissaro wrote:Although at present we rarely think in the same terms as the Samkhya philosophers, there has long been — and still is — a common tendency to create a "Buddhist" metaphysics in which the experience of emptiness, the Unconditioned, the Dharma-body, Buddha-nature, rigpa, etc., is said to function as the ground of being from which the "All" — the entirety of our sensory & mental experience — is said to spring and to which we return when we meditate. Some people think that these theories are the inventions of scholars without any direct meditative experience, but actually they have most often originated among meditators, who label (or in the words of the discourse, "perceive") a particular meditative experience as the ultimate goal, identify with it in a subtle way (as when we are told that "we are the knowing"), and then view that level of experience as the ground of being out of which all other experience comes.

Any teaching that follows these lines would be subject to the same criticism that the Buddha directed against the monks who first heard this discourse.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Reductor
Posts: 1382
Joined: Sat Sep 12, 2009 6:52 am
Location: Alberta, Canada

Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by Reductor » Sun Aug 05, 2012 5:04 am

So whatever comes up in the practice, you take note of it and let it pass. If it’s
important, it’ll shift the ground under your feet. If it’s not, then why bother with
it? Just let it go. Your one job is to stick with the basic steps of the practice.
http://www.dhammatalks.org/Archive/Writ ... yFlame.pdf" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
It was my signature for some time. I like it still.

Great thread topic, by the way.

User avatar
marc108
Posts: 464
Joined: Wed Jan 18, 2012 10:10 pm

Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by marc108 » Sun Aug 05, 2012 5:48 am

great idea!

also: http://www.facebook.com/groups/102608566443956/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

"Sometimes we're told we're not supposed to judge as we meditate, but that's not what the Buddha taught. He wants you to use your powers of judgement properly.. Not on whether this person is good or that person is good, or whether you're a good person or a bad person. That's not useful judgement at all. The judgement is of actions and results... because those things can be changed." -Thanissaro Bhikkhu
"It's easy for us to connect with what's wrong with us... and not so easy to feel into, or to allow us, to connect with what's right and what's good in us."

danieLion
Posts: 1947
Joined: Wed May 25, 2011 4:49 am

Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by danieLion » Sun Aug 05, 2012 8:19 am

The Reductor and marc108,

Help me keep 'em comin'!

Kind wishes,
Daniel

User avatar
Kamran
Posts: 458
Joined: Fri Oct 07, 2011 3:14 am

Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by Kamran » Sun Aug 05, 2012 5:30 pm

"Progress along the path comes simply from staying right here and growing more and more aware of what's going on all around right here. You develop a more all-around awareness, not only all-around in the body, but also all-around in the mind. You see through the blind spots that allowed you to consume experiences obliviously, forgetting the fact that you had to produce them. It's like watching a movie — two hours of lights flashing up on a screen — and then later seeing a documentary about how they made the movie. "

This entire talk is worth quoting :)

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... html#steps" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
"Silence gives answers"

Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi

danieLion
Posts: 1947
Joined: Wed May 25, 2011 4:49 am

Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by danieLion » Tue Aug 07, 2012 3:51 am

Thanks Kamran.

danieLion
Posts: 1947
Joined: Wed May 25, 2011 4:49 am

Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by danieLion » Tue Aug 07, 2012 4:01 am

You've probably heard the rumor that Buddhism is pessimistic, that "Life is suffering" is the Buddha's first noble truth. It's a rumor with good credentials, spread by well-respected academics and meditation teachers alike, but a rumor nonetheless. The real truth about the noble truths is far more interesting.... A fair number of writers have pointed out the basic confidence inherent in the four noble truths, and yet the rumor of Buddhism's pessimism persists.... It's hard to imagine what you could accomplish by saying that life is suffering. You'd have to spend your time arguing with people who see more than just suffering in life. The Buddha himself says as much in one of his discourses [MN 74 Dighanaka Sutta: To LongNails].
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... e.html#lif" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

danieLion
Posts: 1947
Joined: Wed May 25, 2011 4:49 am

Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by danieLion » Thu Aug 09, 2012 12:23 am

This discourse (Susima Sutta, SN 12.70) is sometimes cited as proof that a meditator can attain Awakening (final gnosis) without having practiced the jhanas, but a close reading shows that it does not support this assertion at all. The new arahants mentioned here do not deny that they have attained any of the four "form" jhanas that make up the definition of right concentration. Instead, they simply deny that they have acquired any psychic powers or that they remain in physical contact with the higher levels of concentration, "the formless states beyond forms." In this, their definition of "discernment-release" is no different from that given in AN 9.44 (compare this with the definitions for "bodily witness" and "released in both ways" given in AN 9.43 and AN 9.45). Taken in the context of the Buddha's many other teachings on right concentration, there's every reason to believe that the new arahants mentioned in this discourse had reached at least the first jhana before attaining Awakening.

danieLion
Posts: 1947
Joined: Wed May 25, 2011 4:49 am

Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by danieLion » Fri Aug 10, 2012 3:08 am

Mindfulness Defined (or, What Sati Isn't)
The British scholar who coined the term “mindfulness” to translate the Pali word sati was probably influenced by the Anglican prayer to be ever mindful of the needs of others—in other words, to always keep their needs in mind. But even though the word “mindful” was probably drawn from a Christian context, the Buddha himself defined sati as the ability to remember, illustrating its function in meditation practice with the four satipatthanas, or establishings of mindfulness.... The full discussion of the satipatthanas (DN 22) starts with instructions to be ever mindful of the breath. Directions such as “bring bare attention to the breath,” or “accept the breath,” or whatever else modern teachers tell us that mindfulness is supposed to do, are actually functions for other qualities in the mind. They're not automatically a part ofsati, but you should bring them along wherever they're appropriate.

One quality that's always appropriate in establishing mindfulness is being watchful or alert. The Pali word for alertness, sampajañña, is another term that's often misunderstood. It doesn't mean being choicelessly aware of the present, or comprehending the present. Examples in the Canon shows that sampajañña means being aware of what you're doing in the movements of the body, the movements in the mind. After all, if you're going to gain insight into how you're causing suffering, your primary focus always has to be on what you're actually doing. This is why mindfulness and alertness should always be paired as you meditate.

In the Satipatthana Sutta, they're combined with a third quality, ardency. Ardency means being intent on what you're doing, trying your best to do it skillfully. This doesn't mean that you have to keep straining and sweating all the time, just that you're continuous in developing skillful habits and abandoning unskillful ones. Remember, in the eight factors of the path to freedom, right mindfulness grows out of right effort. Right effort is the effort to be skillful. Mindfulness helps that effort along by reminding you to stick with it, so that you don't let it drop.

All three of these qualities get their focus from what the Buddha called yoniso manasikara, appropriate attention. Notice: That's appropriate attention, not bare attention. The Buddha discovered that the way you attend to things is determined by what you see as important: the questions you bring to the practice, the problems you want the practice to solve. No act of attention is ever bare. If there were no problems in life you could open yourself up choicelessly to whatever came along. But the fact is there is a big problem smack dab in the middle of everything you do: the suffering that comes from acting in ignorance. This is why the Buddha doesn't tell you to view each moment with a beginner's eyes. You've got to keep the issue of suffering and its end always in mind.

Otherwise inappropriate attention will get in the way, focusing on questions like “Who am I?” “Do I have a self?”—questions that deal in terms of being and identity. Those questions, the Buddha said, lead you into a thicket of views and leave you stuck on the thorns. The questions that lead to freedom focus on comprehending suffering, letting go of the cause of suffering, and developing the path to the end of suffering. Your desire for answers to these questions is what makes you alert to your actions—your thoughts, words, and deeds—and ardent to perform them skillfully.

Mindfulness is what keeps the perspective of appropriate attention in mind. Modern psychological research has shown that attention comes in discrete moments. You can be attentive to something for only a very short period of time and then you have to remind yourself, moment after moment, to return to it if you want to keep on being attentive. In other words, continuous attention—the type that can observe things over time—has to be stitched together from short intervals. This is what mindfulness is for. It keeps the object of your attention and the purpose of your attention in mind.

Popular books on meditation, though, offer a lot of other definitions for mindfulness, a lot of other duties it's supposed to fulfill—so many that the poor word gets totally stretched out of shape. In some cases, it even gets defined as Awakening, as in the phrase, “A moment of mindfulness is a moment of Awakening”—something the Buddha would never say, because mindfulness is conditioned and nirvana is not.

These are not just minor matters for nitpicking scholars to argue over. If you don't see the differences among the qualities you're bringing to your meditation, they glom together, making it hard for real insight to arise. If you decide that one of the factors on the path to Awakening is Awakening itself, it's like reaching the middle of a road and then falling asleep right there. You never get to the end of the road, and in the meantime you're bound to get run over by aging, illness, and death. So you need to get your directions straight, and that requires, among other things, knowing precisely what mindfulness is and what it's not.

I've heard mindfulness defined as “affectionate attention” or “compassionate attention,” but affection and compassion aren't the same as mindfulness. They're separate things. If you bring them to your meditation, be clear about the fact that they're acting in addition to mindfulness, because skill in meditation requires seeing when qualities like compassion are helpful and when they're not. As the Buddha says, there are times when affection is a cause for suffering, so you have to watch out.

Sometimes mindfulness is defined as appreciating the moment for all the little pleasures it can offer: the taste of a raisin, the feel of a cup of tea in your hands. In the Buddha's vocabulary, this appreciation is called contentment. Contentment is useful when you're experiencing physical hardship, but it's not always useful in the area of the mind. In fact the Buddha once said that the secret to his Awakening was that he didn't allow himself to rest content with whatever attainment he had reached. He kept reaching for something higher until there was nowhere higher to reach. So contentment has to know its time and place. Mindfulness, if it's not glommed together with contentment, can help keep that fact in mind.

Some teachers define mindfulness as “non-reactivity” or “radical acceptance.” If you look for these words in the Buddha's vocabulary, the closest you'll find are equanimity and patience. Equanimity means learning to put aside your preferences so that you can watch what's actually there. Patience is the ability not to get worked up over the things you don't like, to stick with difficult situations even when they don't resolve as quickly as you want them to. But in establishing mindfulness you stay with unpleasant things not just to accept them but to watch and understand them. Once you've clearly seen that a particular quality like aversion or lust is harmful for the mind, you can't stay patient or equanimous about it. You have to make whatever effort is needed to get rid of it and to nourish skillful qualities in its place by bringing in other factors of the path: right resolve and right effort.

Mindfulness, after all, is part of a larger path mapped out by appropriate attention. You have to keep remembering to bring the larger map to bear on everything you do. For instance, right now you're trying to keep the breath in mind because you see that concentration, as a factor of the path, is something you need to develop, and mindfulness of the breath is a good way to do it. The breath is also a good standpoint from which you can directly observe what's happening in the mind, to see which qualities of mind are giving good results and which ones aren't....

We're often told that mindfulness and concentration are two separate forms of meditation, but the Buddha never made a clear division between the two. In his teachings, mindfulness shades into concentration; concentration forms the basis for even better mindfulness. The four establishings of mindfulness are also the themes of concentration. The highest level of concentration is where mindfulness becomes pure. As Ajaan Lee, a Thai Forest master, once noted, mindfulness combined with ardency turns into the concentration factor called vitakka or “directed thought,” where you keep your thoughts consistently focused on one thing. Alertness combined with ardency turns into another concentration factor: vicara, or “evaluation.” You evaluate what's going on with the breath. Is it comfortable? If it is, stick with it. If it's not, what can you do to make it more comfortable? Try making it a little bit longer, a little bit shorter, deeper, more shallow, faster, slower. See what happens. When you've found a way of breathing that nourishes a sense of fullness and refreshment, you can spread that fullness throughout the body. Learn how to relate to the breath in a way that nourishes a good energy flow throughout the body. When things feel refreshing like this, you can easily settle down.

You may have picked up the idea that you should never fiddle with the breath, that you should just take it as it comes. Yet meditation isn't just a passive process of being nonjudgmentally present with whatever's there and not changing it at all. Mindfulness keeps stitching things together over time, but it also keeps in mind the idea that there's a path to develop, and getting the mind to settle down is a skillful part of that path.

This is why evaluation—judging the best way to maximize the pleasure of the breath—is essential to the practice. In other words, you don't abandon your powers of judgment as you develop mindfulness. You simply train them to be less judgmental and more judicious, so that they yield tangible results....

Liberating insight comes from testing, experimenting. This is how we learn about the world to begin with. If we weren't active creatures, we'd have no understanding of the world at all. Things would pass by, pass by, and we wouldn't know how they were connected because we'd have no way of influencing them to see which effects came from changing which causes. It's because we act in the world that we understand the world....

t's best not to load the word mindfulness with too many meanings or to assign it too many functions. Otherwise, you can't clearly discern when a quality like contentment is useful and when it's not, when you need to bring things to oneness and when you need to take things apart.

User avatar
Kim OHara
Posts: 4999
Joined: Wed Dec 09, 2009 5:47 am
Location: North Queensland, Australia

Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by Kim OHara » Fri Aug 10, 2012 3:38 am

Great advice. Thanks!

:namaste:
Kim

User avatar
manas
Posts: 2464
Joined: Thu Jul 22, 2010 3:04 am
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by manas » Fri Aug 10, 2012 10:06 am

"If you develop the path of virtue, concentration, and discernment to a state of calm well-being and use that calm state to look at experience in terms of the Noble Truths, the questions that occur to the mind are not "Is there a self? What is my self?" but rather "Am I suffering stress because I'm holding onto this particular phenomenon? Is it really me, myself, or mine? If it's stressful but not really me or mine, why hold on?" http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... self2.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Venerable Thanissaro's writings helped me to learn how to ask the right kinds of questions, and the short essay from which an extract is quoted above (No-self or Not-self?), along with The Not-self Strategy and Questions of Skill - these three essays sparked a process of renewed inquiry into the Dhamma for me, and saved me from intractable doubts which I had never been able to assuage myself. With a renewed sense of faith, I was able to practice with more commitment again, and this led to improvements in virtue, study and meditation. And so although I have not met him personally, I feel much gratitude to Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

:anjali:
Knowing this body is like a clay jar,
securing this mind like a fort,
attack Mara with the spear of discernment,
then guard what's won without settling there,
without laying claim.

- Dhp 40

danieLion
Posts: 1947
Joined: Wed May 25, 2011 4:49 am

Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by danieLion » Sat Aug 11, 2012 1:51 am

manas wrote:Venerable Thanissaro's...(No-self or Not-self?), along with The Not-self Strategy and Questions of Skill - these three essays sparked a process of renewed inquiry into the Dhamma for me, and saved me from intractable doubts which I had never been able to assuage myself. With a renewed sense of faith, I was able to practice with more commitment again, and this led to improvements in virtue, study and meditation. And so although I have not met him personally, I feel much gratitude to Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

:anjali:
Thanks manas,
The good Reverend has helped me understand Buddhist faith also; and I too feel very grateful towards him.
Best,
Daniel

danieLion
Posts: 1947
Joined: Wed May 25, 2011 4:49 am

Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by danieLion » Sat Aug 11, 2012 2:01 am

Karma Culture Shock!
We read the early Buddhist attacks on the caste system, and aside from their anti-racist implications, they often strike us as quaint. What we fail to realize is that they strike right at the heart of our myths about our own past: our obsession with defining who we are in terms of where we come from — our race, ethnic heritage, gender, socio-economic background, sexual preference — our modern tribes. We put inordinate amounts of energy into creating and maintaining the mythology of our tribe so that we can take vicarious pride in our tribe's good name. Even when we become Buddhists, the tribe comes first. We demand a Buddhism that honors our myths.

From the standpoint of karma, though, where we come from is old karma, over which we have no control. What we "are" is a nebulous concept at best — and pernicious at worst, when we use it to find excuses for acting on unskillful motives. The worth of a tribe lies only in the skillful actions of its individual members. Even when those good people belong to our tribe, their good karma is theirs, not ours. And, of course, every tribe has its bad members, which means that the mythology of the tribe is a fragile thing. To hang onto anything fragile requires a large investment of passion, aversion, and delusion, leading inevitably to more unskillful actions on into the future.

So the Buddhist teachings on karma, far from being a quaint relic from the past, are a direct challenge to a basic thrust — and basic flaw — in our culture. Only when we abandon our obsession with finding vicarious pride in our tribal past, and can take actual pride in the motives that underlie our present actions, can we say that the word karma, in its Buddhist sense, has recovered its luggage. And when we open the luggage, we'll find that it's brought us a gift: the gift we give ourselves and one another when we drop our myths about who we are, and can instead be honest about what we're doing with each moment — at the same time making the effort to do it right.
From Karma

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Majestic-12 [Bot], Volovsky and 110 guests