New Book on Mindfulness by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Anagarika
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Re: New Book on Mindfulness by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Post by Anagarika » Mon Aug 13, 2012 2:35 am

robertk wrote:The actual Katthavathu makes the point that sound can't be heard in jhana. Buddhaghosa elaborates in the commentray to it.
Do we consider the Katthavathu to be Buddhavacana? It seems to me not, and I'm far from being a competent student or scholar on these points. It would seem that Ajahn Geoff's approach is consistent with what Buddha taught, with the Abhidhamma Katthavathu perspective coming much later in time and after divisions in the Sangha existed as to interpretation.

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Re: New Book on Mindfulness by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Post by danieLion » Mon Aug 13, 2012 3:04 am

Hi Robert,
robertk wrote:Perhaps the venerable doesn't include the Abhidhamma pitaka in the Tipitika?
I've often wondered this myself. AFIK, he's never stated such explicitly. I'd say he's at least dismissive of it, though.

But, I'M ONLY SPECULATING.
Best,
Daniel
Edit: see deleted post above
Last edited by danieLion on Tue Aug 14, 2012 1:47 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: New Book on Mindfulness by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Post by danieLion » Mon Aug 13, 2012 3:08 am

robertk wrote:Page 169:
Sometimes it’s argued that a person in jh›na is “incapable of speech” or cannot hear sounds, but neither of these assertions is supported by the Cannon
Hi again Robert,
Did you skip ahead? ;)
Best,
Daniel

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Re: New Book on Mindfulness by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Post by tiltbillings » Mon Aug 13, 2012 3:14 am

robertk wrote:Page 169:
Sometimes it’s argued that a person in jh›na is “incapable of speech” or cannot hear sounds, but neither of these assertions is supported by the Cannon.
The Pali Cannon
Image

The Pali Canon

Image
>> 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: New Book on Mindfulness by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Post by tiltbillings » Mon Aug 13, 2012 3:24 am

danieLion wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
danieLion wrote: When he's criticizing the "whatever comes up" method it's directed towards Joseph Goldstein et al.
Maybe, but he does not quote Goldstein, so it becomes hard to take what he says seriously as criticism of Goldstein, or any one else. It reads as a bit of a straw man argument. If one is going to argue against a postion, then put that position out there as accurately and fully as possible, then one should do one's best to beat it up, if it needs beating up. I do not see that as what has happened in this book.
Perhaps,
I'm probably ignorant.
It's just that the only teacher I've ever heard say, "The meditation is about whatever comes up," is Joe G, and the only criticism I've ever heard using that exact phrase was from the good Rev.
The problem is, however, while Joseph Goldstein may say that meditation is about "whatever comes up," what is very seriously missing in Ven Thanissaro's exposition is the full context of Goldstein's teaching where Goldstein says that meditation is whatever comes up. Without that, if this is a criticism of Goldstein, the criticism is of a straw man. In reading though the chapter on "bare attention,' I cannot take Ven Thanissaro seriously.
In the good Rev's earlier works, he cited sources more
So, does he cite Goldstein in these earlier works?
>> 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: New Book on Mindfulness by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Post by mikenz66 » Mon Aug 13, 2012 4:09 am

It would be highly inaccurate to describe any of the teachers that have been mentioned in this thread as teaching their students no more than "just watch what comes up".

There are quotes in chapter 4, which I think present cartoon versions of teachings:

Joseph Goldstein:
“Mindfulness is the quality of mind that notices what is present, without
judgment, without interference.”
Leaving out the next sentence in the book:
http://dhammanovice.tumblr.com/post/319 ... at-notices" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
It is like a mirror that clearly reflects what comes before it. Munindraji summed up this quality with one simple expression: knowing things as they are."
And presumably much that is in the rest of the book...

Bhante Gunaratana:
“Mindfulness is mirror-thought. It reflects only what is presently happening
and in exactly the way it is happening. There are no biases...
However, Bhante G observes later in the chapter:
http://www.urbandharma.org/udharma4/mpe13.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
(a) Mindfulness reminds you of what you are supposed to be doing . In meditation, you put your attention on one item. When your mind wanders from this focus, it is Mindfulness that reminds you that your mind is wandering and what you are supposed to be doing. It is Mindfulness that brings your mind back to the object of meditation.
This is difficult for me to reconcile with Thanissaro Bhikkhu statement that these other teachers are claiming that:
... the Buddha, in defining the faculty of mindfulness in SN 48:10,
didn’t actually define it as memory; he defined it as the mental state that allows
memory to happen. In other words, attention lies in the background of the
definition without actually being mentioned in it.
There are certainly some differences between the interpretations of Ven Thanissaro, Bhante G, and Joseph Goldstein. However, when their instructions are taken as a totality the differences seem to me to be often a case of where exactly they choose to classify things amongst right thought, effort, mindfulness, concentration, wisdom, etc.

I've found Ven Thanissaro's expositions of Dhamma very useful and thoughtful. But I'm afraid I find the critiques rather shallow, so I generally ignore them. I much prefer the approach of teachers who simply say: "This is how I see it ..." and leave the listeners to do comparisons or ask questions for clarification.

:anjali:
Mike

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Re: New Book on Mindfulness by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Post by tiltbillings » Mon Aug 13, 2012 5:41 am

mikenz66 wrote:It would be highly inaccurate to describe any of the teachers that have been mentioned in this thread as teaching their students no more than "just watch what comes up".

There are quotes in chapter 4, which I think present cartoon versions of teachings:
Thank you for tying these quote to actual authors and books so that we can see the fuller context. "Cartoon version" is to grossly understate what Ven Thanissaro has done. It is dishonest.
>> 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: New Book on Mindfulness by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Post by Goob » Mon Aug 13, 2012 9:04 am

I think the danger with this book is that people will focus too much on what they perceive to be Than Geoff's attack on individual teachers just because we are able to trace exactly who said it in what publication with ease, maybe because many of us have a background in university academia where this sort of personal attacking back and forh is common, I dunno. I think that's why he doesn't quote their names, because it doesn't matter if he doesn't contextualize these statements perfectly, they are representative quotes of a mindfulness syncretism that has grown very big as a movement in the last few years, and to me not necessarily a treatise on the individual teachers' teachings.

Looking at my mum's fridge yesterday there was a clipping on so-called mindfulness from a so-called expert that says exactly the kinds of things about bare awareness that he's arguing against in the book, so to say that it's not a common position is also not true.

But if we're gonna keep discussing the indivdual teachers' differences or similarities, instead of saying that Than Geoff's dishonest and merely setting up a straw man, please supply some quotes where this is shown. I don't feel that was done at all in the earlier posts.

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Re: New Book on Mindfulness by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Post by tiltbillings » Mon Aug 13, 2012 9:31 am

richard_rca wrote:I think the danger with this book is that people will focus too much on what they perceive to be Than Geoff's attack on individual teachers just because we are able to trace exactly who said it in what publication with ease, maybe because many of us have a background in university academia where this sort of personal attacking back and forh is common, I dunno. I think that's why he doesn't quote their names, because it doesn't matter if he doesn't contextualize these statements perfectly, they are representative quotes of a mindfulness syncretism that has grown very big as a movement in the last few years, and to me not necessarily a treatise on the individual teachers' teachings.
You can try to spin it however you might, the quotes are out of context, both in terms of the immediate context of the quote and the broader context of the teacher who is being quoted. Obviously, then, the quote really does not represent some sort of general notions. This is at best problematic in that he is painting with a very broad brush, obscuring much of what is valuable and good in the process.
Looking at my mum's fridge yesterday there was a clipping on so-called mindfulness from a so-called expert that says exactly the kinds of things about bare awareness that he's arguing against in the book, so to say that it's not a common position is also not true.
You mum's frig is hardly a good source for determining whether or not the Dhammas being grossly and across the board misrepresented by vipassana teachers.
But if we're gonna keep discussing the indivdual teachers' differences or similarities, instead of saying that Than Geoff's dishonest and merely setting up a straw man, please supply some quotes where this is shown. I don't feel that was done at all in the earlier posts.
The only straw man here is the one Ven T has set up with unattributed, out of context quotes, which is shameful. We can look at these things in more detail, if you wish. I am guessing that you are a student of Ven Thanissaro and it is probably very discomforting to hear such criticisms of him, but keep in mind I have been a student of Joseph Goldstein and it grossly unfair for his work to be used in the way it has been, and for him, even if unnamed, to be characterized in the way he has by this book. I think we can do better.
>> 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: New Book on Mindfulness by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Post by danieLion » Mon Aug 13, 2012 9:53 am

deleted by author,
see: http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.ph ... 38#p201420" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Last edited by danieLion on Tue Aug 14, 2012 1:50 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: New Book on Mindfulness by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Post by mikenz66 » Mon Aug 13, 2012 9:57 am

Hi Richard,
richard_rca wrote:I think the danger with this book is that people will focus too much on what they perceive to be Than Geoff's attack on individual teachers just because we are able to trace exactly who said it in what publication with ease, maybe because many of us have a background in university academia where this sort of personal attacking back and forh is common, I dunno. I think that's why he doesn't quote their names, because it doesn't matter if he doesn't contextualize these statements perfectly, they are representative quotes of a mindfulness syncretism that has grown very big as a movement in the last few years, and to me not necessarily a treatise on the individual teachers' teachings.
Well, you were the one who started off saying that his statements would be controversial. In my opinion they are actually rather uncontroversial, and quite similar to what many teachers teach, including the ones he appears to be criticising.
richard_rca wrote: Looking at my mum's fridge yesterday there was a clipping on so-called mindfulness from a so-called expert that says exactly the kinds of things about bare awareness that he's arguing against in the book, so to say that it's not a common position is also not true.
I'm not saying that there are not people out there who oversimplify things, but the people I mentioned above clearly don't, if you bother to read a selection of their writing, or listen to a selection of their talks.
richard_rca wrote: But if we're gonna keep discussing the indivdual teachers' differences or similarities, instead of saying that Than Geoff's dishonest and merely setting up a straw man, please supply some quotes where this is shown. I don't feel that was done at all in the earlier posts.
I gave a clear example where Bhante G's soundbite was criticised, and showed that if you read some more of the chapter, which I gave a selection from, and a link to, I think that the impression is rather different.

I'm really not interested in criticising Ven Thanissaro's Dhamma teachings, since I think that he has provided some wonderful guidance. But so have thousands of other teachers. Let's not fall into more of these silly "so and so isn't teaching according to the Buddha" conversations that seem to plague on-line forums.

:anjali:
Mike

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Re: New Book on Mindfulness by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Post by Goob » Mon Aug 13, 2012 10:00 am

Tiltbillings: You don't have to guess, I said in one of the first posts that I like the way Than Geoff frames his teachings and that I might go and visit there someday. Having said that I'd also like to state that I have no interest in defending any teacher's view just because I would consider myself to be learning from the person. It's a difficult thing to question the identity you've built up around being the student of somebody, but I think it's healthy and necessary to be aware of it and I think scrutiny and constant reevaluation is important in any teacher/student relationship.

Interesting that you would be so quick to make that accusation by the way.

Are you dissing my mum's fridge? Just kidding.. Sure it's a fridge, but however ridiculous you make it sound by phrasing it like that the fact remains that there has been an explosion of mindfulness discourses that are bound to trickle down into a broader public's awareness and influence the way it's practiced. And why are magazine clippings on a middle-aged persons fridge not an interesting way to probe that development? We are not just talking about established scholar monks who publish in academia but the way that the concept of mindfulness has entered broader society and how much of it is ill-informed.

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Re: New Book on Mindfulness by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Post by robertk » Mon Aug 13, 2012 10:08 am

Well I disagree with a number of things Thanissaro says, in the book and out. But I think , like richard, that expecting him to give prolonged details of every point he criticizes isnt fair. Actually if he wanted to point to my personal ideas , learnt from study and teachers,about Dhamma he was doing a reasonable job. For example i do think that satipatthana is about knowing what is arising now, without trying to change it." Understanding is all", is the way I think.

Thanissaro is all about a different path, and at least he is clear about that.
Good on him for saying so.

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Re: New Book on Mindfulness by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Post by tiltbillings » Mon Aug 13, 2012 10:09 am

danieLion wrote:Hi Tilt,
So you think he's targeting Goldstein specifically?

The problem with accusing Rev. T of going scarecrow is that it means he's either be deceptive or he's being stupid. His moral character speaks to the impossibility of the the former and his intellectual capabilities to the impossibility of the latter. He's neither immoral enough to do it on purpose nor ignorant enough to do it by accident.

Best,
Daniel
He is not doing academics; he is doing religious apologetics, but there's no reason why that cannot be held to a particular level of accountability that is not unreasonable. Is he targeting Goldstein? Damdifino, but he is using Goldstein out of context, that I can see, and it looks to me to be distorting what Goldstein is saying. Oooops. To me this devalues Ven T's work, which unfortunately does not serve Ven T well.
Are you dissing my mum's fridge? Just kidding.. Sure it's a fridge, but however ridiculous you make it sound by phrasing it like that the fact remains that there has been an explosion of mindfulness discourses that are bound to trickle down into a broader public's awareness and influence the way it's practiced, and why are magazine clippings on a middle-aged persons fridge not an interesting way to proble that development? We are not just talking about established scholar monks who publish in academia but the way that the concept of mindfulness has entered broader society through and how much of it is ill-informed.
The problem I see with what Ven T said, though I may have missed something, is that there is no nuance. Goldstein is probably the most experienced and learned lay Western vipassana teacher alive. I would be loathe to clump him in with he fluffy-bunny teachers who are guilty of the distortions Ven T rails against, but it looks like Ven T has done just that by using Golstein's work, out of context, to make his point.
>> 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: New Book on Mindfulness by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Post by tiltbillings » Mon Aug 13, 2012 10:12 am

robertk wrote:Well I disagree with a huge number of things Thanissaro says, in the book and out. But I think , like richard, that expecting him to give prolonged details of every point he critizes isnt fair.
You quote someone's work, you should at least give credit by citing who wrote it, in what book, etc. That is not asking too much.
>> 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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