The Quotable Thanissaro

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dhammapal
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Sat Mar 01, 2014 3:03 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:Start with thoughts of goodwill, because that's why we're here. Goodwill is the wish for happiness — both for your own happiness and for the happiness of everybody else. This is what we're working on as we meditate: We're taking that wish and we're working on it, looking for a way to bring true happiness to ourselves and to the people around us. Spread thoughts of goodwill first to yourself and then out in ever-widening circles to people who are close to your heart, people you know well and like, people you're more neutral about, and even people you don't like. Don't let there be any limitation on your goodwill, because that's a limitation on your own mind, on your own happiness.
From Basics by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
With metta / dhammapal.

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Sat Mar 01, 2014 8:38 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:We spread thoughts of goodwill for all the world, that we don’t wish anyone any harm. We wish that all beings could find happiness. So why are we sitting here with our eyes closed? Why aren’t we going out there, making people happy?

Because happiness is something that has to come from within. It’s based on being skillful in the way you act, which includes not only your physical actions, but also your speech and the actions of your mind — and in particular, the act of intention. This is because it’s through our intentions that we shape the world we experience, along with the amount of pleasure or pain we take out of that experience. To formulate intentions that really do lead to happiness is a skill. And because it’s a skill, nobody else can master the skill for you; you can’t master the skill for anyone else. You can give other people advice, you can show them to some extent how to do things, but for them to find happiness requires that they take the issue of happiness seriously, that they learn how to be skillful in their approach to happiness. If you’re going to give them reliable advice or set a reliable example, you yourself need to learn how to be skillful, too.

So, both for the sake of our own true happiness and for the true happiness of others, this is why we’re sitting here meditating. We’re training the mind to be very attentive, continually attentive to what it’s doing, so that it can learn how to do it skillfully. This means that even though there is the quest for peace, the quest for stillness in the mind, it’s not just peace and stillness for its own sake. It’s for the sake of understanding what we’re doing to cause suffering, and what we can do to stop it. That’s the purpose of our understanding.
http://www.dhammatalks.org/Archive/Writ ... 140119.pdf
From: Less is More by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
With metta / dhammapal.
Last edited by dhammapal on Mon Mar 03, 2014 10:31 am, edited 1 time in total.

dhammapal
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Sat Mar 01, 2014 9:41 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:Try to develop a sense of yourself as someone who’s always willing to learn, especially from your mistakes. You don’t beat yourself up over your mistakes. You try not to make mistakes so that you don’t have the extra burden of looking back on blameworthy mistakes — i.e., ones where you knew better but went ahead with harmful behavior anyhow. But when you do make a mistake, you say, “Okay, that was a mistake. What can I learn from it?” You realize that beating yourself up extra hard is not going to compensate for something you did — and it’s certainly not going to put you in a better position to do it skillfully the next time. The more you look at the events in the mind in this way, the more you see that what you thought were things or entities or inherent natures you couldn’t change are actually actions.
http://www.dhammatalks.org/Archive/Writ ... 140119.pdf
From: Kindfulness by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
With metta / dhammapal.

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Sat Mar 01, 2014 8:57 pm

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:This is why the Buddha says that uncertainty is overcome by looking at skillful and unskillful qualities in the mind. To begin with, you’re focusing your attention on the most important issue in life, which is what sort of impact your actions are having, and particularly what kind of impact your mind states are having. After all, the source of action is in the mind. If you’re uncertain about different mental qualities, then watch. Try developing goodwill; try being generous; try observing the precepts. See what kind of impact these qualities have on your life.
http://www.dhammatalks.org/Archive/Writ ... 140119.pdf
From: Virtue Contains the Practice by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
With metta / dhammapal.

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Kusala
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by Kusala » Sun Mar 02, 2014 9:46 am

Making The Dhamma Your Own

"A recurring theme in the teachings of the Forrest Ajahns is that you have to make the Dhamma your own. In other words, you can read about it, you can hear about it, think about it, if that's as far as you go, that's still the Buddha's Dhamma -- somebody else's Dhamma. You can practice it a little bit, but unless you really push yourself you don't really know how true that Dhamma is and it's not really your own...

I noticed a lot of people who get interested in the Pali Cannon, but if they don't really practice it or if they practice just in their ease and comfort, their interest begins to wane. They start getting cynical about the whole thing, but it's the people who tested the teachings, those are the ones who maintain their confidence, maintain their conviction, about what the Buddha taught is really true. That's because they've seen these qualities arise within them, they've seen that they can actually develop them in ways they wouldn't expect it...Your mind becomes Dhamma, you've made it your own. And that's not by imposing your idea about the Dhamma on it, it means you basically make yourself in the Dhamma...

there's a nice passage in the cannon where someone says even if the whole world rose up against the Buddha, he'd still side with the Buddha, from what he had seen in his own practice. The Dhamma gets bigger in your heart, the world gets smaller, becomes less and less of an issue because you realize the issues outside are nothing compared to the issues inside and you start straightening out these issues inside. The battle is won."
Image

"He, the Blessed One, is indeed the Noble Lord, the Perfectly Enlightened One;
He is impeccable in conduct and understanding, the Serene One, the Knower of the Worlds;
He trains perfectly those who wish to be trained; he is Teacher of gods and men; he is Awake and Holy. "

--------------------------------------------
"The Dhamma is well-expounded by the Blessed One,
Apparent here and now, timeless, encouraging investigation,
Leading to liberation, to be experienced individually by the wise. "

dhammapal
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Mon Mar 03, 2014 11:14 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:So when Ajaan Mun was teaching, he found he had to deal with the assumption many poor people had that "I just don't have the merit to get anywhere in the practice." He kept reminding his students, "You have everything you need. You've got a human body. You've got a human mind. You've got breath. You've got your awareness. You've got some mindfulness, some alertness. These are all the things you need." And so a lot of his Dhamma talks focused on, one, the fact that people were suffering; and, two, they had the resources that, if they worked at them, could take them out of suffering. That's the important point: if you work on them. You need to have a strong sense that where you are is suffering, but you have what it takes to get beyond that suffering if you apply yourself.
From: Shame & Acceptance by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
With metta / dhammapal.

dhammapal
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Mon Mar 03, 2014 11:46 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:Listen to the breath. See what it has to say. What kind of breathing would feel good right now? Coming in where? Going out where? Allow it to happen.
From: The Four Bases of Success by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
With metta / dhammapal.

dhammapal
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Wed Mar 05, 2014 2:26 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:Some people say that our suffering is such a small selfish issue to be dealing with. Why can't we be dealing with larger issues like compassion, the world as a whole, the interconnectedness of everybody? Why? Because those issues tend to be vague and abstract. They really don't get to the main issue in life: why it is that the mind creates suffering for itself. That's the big issue. If, through our compassion, we could save other beings, then that would be a useful topic to focus on. But the problem is that each of us suffers because of our own lack of skill in dealing with pain. If we'd be willing to learn from the pain, then each of us could take care of our problems and there wouldn't be issues in life at all.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... alks_3.pdf
From: The Humble Way to Awakening by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:A brahman once asked the Buddha, "Will all the world reach release [Awakening], or half the world, or a third?" But the Buddha didn't answer. Ven. Ananda, concerned that the brahman might misconstrue the Buddha's silence, took the man aside and gave him an analogy: Imagine a fortress with a single gate. A wise gatekeeper would walk around the fortress and not see an opening in the wall big enough for even a cat to slip through. Because he's wise, he would realize that his knowledge didn't tell him how many people would come into the fortress, but it did tell him that whoever came into the fortress would have to come in through the gate. In the same way, the Buddha didn't focus on how many people would reach Awakening but he did know that anyone who reached Awakening would have to follow the path he had found: abandoning the five hindrances, establishing the four frames of reference, and developing the seven factors for Awakening.
From: Freedom From Buddha Nature by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
With metta / dhammapal.

dhammapal
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Sat Mar 08, 2014 9:22 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:There's a story in one of Ajaan Lee's talks about an old woman who went to the monastery and noticed that the walking meditation paths weren't well swept. So she swept them and set out some water for washing feet. Just that much made her feel cheerful. It so happened that on her way home she had a heart attack and died. The next thing she knew she was a deva, just from the cheerfulness that came from keeping the place around her clean. This story illustrates an important principle: Whatever you can do to gladden the mind in a wholesome and skillful way is part of your repertoire as a good meditator.
From: Gladdening the Mind by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:This doesn’t mean that you have to give up humor, just that you learn to employ humor wisely. Humor in our society tends to fall into the categories of wrong speech: falsehoods, divisive speech, coarse speech, and idle chatter. There’s a challenge in learning to use your humor to state things that are true, that lead to harmony, and actually serve a good purpose. But think for a moment of all the great humorists of the past: We remember their humor because of the clever ways they expressed the truth. You may or may not aspire to be a great humorist, but the effort spent in trying to use humor wisely is a good exercise in discernment. If you can learn to laugh wisely and in a good-natured way about the foibles of the world around you, you can learn to laugh in the same way at your own foibles. And that’s one of the most essential skills in any meditator’s repertoire.
From: With Each and Every Breath: A Guide to Meditation by Thanissaro Bhikkhu (~100 page pdf)
Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:Vary your routine. Just as a muscle can stop responding to a particular exercise, your mind can hit a plateau if it's strapped to only one meditation technique. So don't let your regular routine get into a rut. Sometimes the only change you need is a different way of breathing, a different way of visualizing the breath energy in the body. But then there are days when the mind won't stay with the breath no matter how many different ways of breathing you try. This is why the Buddha taught supplemental meditations to deal with specific problems as they arise. For starters, there's goodwill for when you're feeling down on yourself or the human race — the people you dislike would be much more tolerable if they could find genuine happiness inside, so wish them that happiness. There's contemplation of the parts of the body for when you're overcome with lust — it's hard to maintain a sexual fantasy when you keep thinking about what lies just underneath the skin. And there's contemplation of death for when you're feeling lazy — you don't know how much time you've got left, so you'd better meditate now if you want to be ready when the time comes to go.

When these supplemental contemplations have done their work, you can get back to the breath, refreshed and revived. So keep expanding your repertoire. That way your skill becomes all-around.
From: Strength Training for the Mind by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
With metta / dhammapal.

dhammapal
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Sat Mar 08, 2014 9:25 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:Normally, people will allow their happiness to depend on a whole lot of conditions. And the more you think about those conditions, the more you realize that they're totally beyond your control: the economy, the climate, the political situation, the continued beating of certain hearts, the stability of the ground beneath your feet, all of which are very uncertain. So what do you do? You learn to look inside. Try to create a sense of wellbeing that can come simply with being with the breath. Even though this isn't the total cure, it's the path toward the cure.
From: Fears by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
With metta / dhammapal.

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Sat Mar 08, 2014 9:26 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:Every time you take a choice - at home, at work, at play - you are exercising your power in the on-going fashioning of the world. At the same time, this principle allows you to measure yourself in terms that are entirely under your control: your intentional actions in the present moment. In other words, they don't force you to measure yourself in terms of your looks, strength, brains, financial prowess, or any other criteria that depend less on your present karma than they do on karma from the past. Also, they don't play on feelings of guilt or force you to bemoan your past lapses. Instead, they focus your attention on the ever-present possibility of living up to your standards in the here and now.
From: The Healing Power of the Precepts by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
With metta / dhammapal.

dhammapal
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Mon Mar 10, 2014 8:58 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:If you don't make it all the way to the Deathless in this lifetime, your quest for skillfulness insures that your next lifetime will keep heading in that direction. You build up a momentum.

....Try to turn your life from a stick thrown up into the air into an arrow flying straight in a particular direction, toward more and more skillfulness. Ultimately, someday, whether in this lifetime or the next, that arrow will reach its target — but only if you focus on this issue of skillfulness right here and right now. And keep it right here right now, every right here and right now. That's what builds up the momentum. That's what gives direction and meaning to life.
From: Anger by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
With metta / dhammapal.

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Anagarika
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by Anagarika » Mon Mar 10, 2014 8:14 pm

dhammapal wrote:
Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:Every time you take a choice - at home, at work, at play - you are exercising your power in the on-going fashioning of the world. At the same time, this principle allows you to measure yourself in terms that are entirely under your control: your intentional actions in the present moment. In other words, they don't force you to measure yourself in terms of your looks, strength, brains, financial prowess, or any other criteria that depend less on your present karma than they do on karma from the past. Also, they don't play on feelings of guilt or force you to bemoan your past lapses. Instead, they focus your attention on the ever-present possibility of living up to your standards in the here and now.
From: The Healing Power of the Precepts by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
With metta / dhammapal.
Among his many thoughtful articles and talks, this one really resonated with me. I have had the good fortune to spend time at Wat Metta. Ajahn Geoff is a fairly strict abbot, but there also seems to be so very much the kalyana mitta aspect to his personality: in a goodhearted way, he really wants to see people succeed in this Path. He's the kind of mentor and friend that one needs most, that isn't afraid to tell you the truth, but does so with a wise and kind heart. From the same text:

"Now, many people find it cold comfort to join such an abstract group, especially when they have not yet met any noble ones in person. It's hard to be good-hearted and generous when the society immediately around you openly laughs at those qualities and values such things as sexual prowess or predatory business skills instead. This is where Buddhist communities can come in. It would be very useful if Buddhist groups would openly part ways with the prevailing amoral tenor of our culture and let it be known in a kindly way that they value goodheartedness and restraint among their members. In doing so, they would provide a healthy environment for the full-scale adoption of the Buddha's course of therapy: the practice of concentration and discernment in a life of virtuous action."

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Kasina
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by Kasina » Tue Mar 11, 2014 4:43 am

BuddhaSoup wrote:
dhammapal wrote:
Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:Every time you take a choice - at home, at work, at play - you are exercising your power in the on-going fashioning of the world. At the same time, this principle allows you to measure yourself in terms that are entirely under your control: your intentional actions in the present moment. In other words, they don't force you to measure yourself in terms of your looks, strength, brains, financial prowess, or any other criteria that depend less on your present karma than they do on karma from the past. Also, they don't play on feelings of guilt or force you to bemoan your past lapses. Instead, they focus your attention on the ever-present possibility of living up to your standards in the here and now.
From: The Healing Power of the Precepts by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
With metta / dhammapal.
Among his many thoughtful articles and talks, this one really resonated with me. I have had the good fortune to spend time at Wat Metta. Ajahn Geoff is a fairly strict abbot, but there also seems to be so very much the kalyana mitta aspect to his personality: in a goodhearted way, he really wants to see people succeed in this Path. He's the kind of mentor and friend that one needs most, that isn't afraid to tell you the truth, but does so with a wise and kind heart. From the same text:

"Now, many people find it cold comfort to join such an abstract group, especially when they have not yet met any noble ones in person. It's hard to be good-hearted and generous when the society immediately around you openly laughs at those qualities and values such things as sexual prowess or predatory business skills instead. This is where Buddhist communities can come in. It would be very useful if Buddhist groups would openly part ways with the prevailing amoral tenor of our culture and let it be known in a kindly way that they value goodheartedness and restraint among their members. In doing so, they would provide a healthy environment for the full-scale adoption of the Buddha's course of therapy: the practice of concentration and discernment in a life of virtuous action."
Brilliant, as always...

:anjali:
"This world completely lacks essence;
It trembles in all directions.
I longed to find myself a place
Unscathed — but I could not see it."


Sn 4.15 PTS: Sn 935-951 "Attadanda Sutta: Arming Oneself"

"You will be required to do wrong no matter where you go... This is the curse at work, the curse that feeds on all life..."

Wilbur Mercer in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

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Anagarika
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by Anagarika » Tue Mar 11, 2014 11:53 am

I found this definition, as well, that seems to apply well to Ven. Thanissaro, at least as I have come to experience his teaching and influence:

"In the first-century CE exegetic Vimuttimagga ("Path of Freedom"), Arahant Upatissa identifies the need to find a "good friend" or "pre-eminent friend" in order to develop "excellent concentration." The good friend should understand the Tipitaka, kamma, "beneficient worldly knowledge" and the Four Noble Truths. Citing AN 7.36, Upatissa says that a "good friend" should have the following seven qualities:

"Loveableness, esteemableness, venerableness, the ability to counsel well, patience (in listening), the ability to deliver deep discourses and the not applying oneself to useless ends."

This definition fits nicely. As I have mentioned before, my experience with Ven. Thanissaro includes seeing his strict supervision of his monks, his careful mentorship of the lay folk that come to Wat Metta, while at the same time, watching him sit on the floor with members of the San Diego Thai community to assemble, by hand, some calendars. I observed him sit with the men and women doing this hand work, with a broad smile on his face, speaking in Thai fully engaged, and seemingly opening the doors of his heart to these folk with whom he must feel such a connection. I recall being in the vihan to begin evening chanting, when one of his young monks sneezed loudly, and Ajahn Geoff, with a big smile, asked "was that a B flat?"

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