The Quotable Thanissaro

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

Post by dhammapal » Mon Mar 18, 2019 10:41 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:If you think of goodwill as lovingkindness and you’re there like the mother protecting her only child, as some people believe that passage in the Karaṇīya Mettā Sutta says, it becomes pretty oppressive — and very inflated. How are you going to go running around protecting everybody the way a mother would protect her child? It’s hard enough to protect one child, much less all beings. But actually, the Buddha’s saying in that passage that you’ve got to protect your goodwill, both for yourself and for others, as a mother would protect her child. That’s something you can actually do.
From: Goodwill in Action by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

dhammapal
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Mon Mar 25, 2019 6:34 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:You can’t clone awakening. Because all you’re doing is just indulging in your imagination, indulging in perceptions and fabrications. There is this tendency. We read one of these passages, say, about the awakened one who experiences just the sight, just the sound, without assuming any person seeing the sight or anything behind the sight, any object to be seen. We think, “Well, if I just get myself so fully in the present moment where there’s no division between subject and object, that should do it: a taste of awakening.” But it’s not. Even if you actually can achieve a oneness of consciousness, the Buddha noted that there’s still stress there, because it’s something that has to be maintained. It’s not the case that we’re suffering because we have a sense of separateness between subject and object, and we can end that suffering by bringing them back together again, glomming them together. Once they’re glommed, they don’t stay glommed. There’s the stress of having to keep them glommed. And there’s also the question: Could you function continually that way?

So this tendency we have of trying to clone awakening, trying to imagine ourselves in a totally awakened state, what someone once called the practice of being awakened: That’s just one more form of fabrication based on ignorance. And if you’ve ever read anything about dependent co-arising, you know that ignorance leading to fabrications leads on to more stress and suffering. Freedom isn’t found that way. It’s found in this very unlikely spot, the point in the present moment where you’re making choices and are trying to do it more and more skillfully.
From: You Can't Clone Awakening by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

dhammapal
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Fri Mar 29, 2019 10:23 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:If mindfulness is defined as alertness, there is no term in the satipaṭṭhāna formula to account for the role of memory in the practice. Even if we were to accept the modern contention that mindfulness training is aimed only at one dimension of time — the present — it’s hard to see how training in mindfulness would not need to encompass the other two dimensions of time as well: the future for motivation, and the past for guidance. Remembering what to do and why you’re doing it is an important part of sticking with any practice.

This point is illustrated, ironically, by a comment made by a teacher who holds to the definition of mindfulness as awareness of the present: that mindfulness is easy; it’s remembering to be mindful that’s hard. It would be strange if the Buddha did not account for one of the hardest parts of mindfulness practice in his instructions. To leave the role of memory unstated is to leave it unclear in the mind of the practitioner, driven underground where it becomes hidden from honest inquiry.
From: Right Mindfulness: Memory & Ardency on the Buddhist Path by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

dhammapal
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Fri Apr 05, 2019 10:34 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:Perhaps to counteract the common fear that the release of nibbāna is a type of starvation, Khp 6 depicts it as a form of consumption in which one’s food is totally free — freely available, free from debt, and free from suffering.
§ 50. Those who, devoted, firm-minded, apply themselves to Gotama’s message, on attaining their goal, plunge into the deathless, freely [eating] the liberation they’ve gained." — Khp 6
From: The Shape of Suffering: A Study of Dependent Co-arising by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

dhammapal
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Tue Apr 09, 2019 8:19 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:So the question is: Why is there the common misunderstanding that mindfulness is simply passive awareness? It comes from an interpretation of the Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta that views the sutta as providing a full explanation of mindfulness practice. Actually, though, the sutta sets out to explain only one part of the mindfulness formula. Its purpose is to explain what it means to keep focused on something in and of itself. It doesn’t address the rest of the formula. In particular, it says nothing about ardency. If you see the sutta as a complete explanation of mindfulness, this might lead you to believe that you don’t need to use ardent effort. But if you look at other suttas in the Canon, you see that the Buddha explains again and again how ardency and the rest of the formula should function — and in a very proactive way. It’s for this reason that, in order to understand mindfulness practice, you have to look elsewhere in the Canon to complete the picture.
From: The Five Faculties: Putting Wisdom in Charge of the Mind by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

jabalí
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by jabalí » Tue Apr 09, 2019 2:24 pm

In particular, it says nothing about ardency. If you see the sutta as a complete explanation of mindfulness, this might lead you to believe that you don’t need to use ardent effort.
:shock: Really?

dhammapal
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Sun Apr 14, 2019 10:04 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:One of the paradoxes in the Buddha’s teaching is that, on the one hand, we’re told to be patient and, on the other, we’re told to have a sense of urgency. One teaching tells us to slow down; the other tells us to speed up. So how do you put those two together?

Well, think about times when you’ve been in an airport. You get to your gate and learn that they’ve found a technical problem with the airplane and there’s going to be a delay. Part of you wants them to hurry up and fix the problem quickly, and another part realizes that if they’re in too much in a hurry, they might actually miss something important. You could die if they’re too quick, in too much of a hurry to get things done.

So as you meditate, think of the mechanics there. On the one hand, they do have to have a sense of urgency, but they also have to be patient enough to do things very carefully, to do them right.

A lot of this comes down to what it means to be observant. You want the mechanic to be observant. That means, on the one hand, being slow enough to observe things and, on the other, being quick enough to observe things: slow in the sense that you don’t want to jump to any conclusions before you really have all the evidence in, and quick in the sense that you want to catch the subtle things as they come and go, come and go. These qualities come together when the mind is really still, with mindfulness ardency, and a sense of alertness.
From: The Airplane Mechanic by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

dhammapal
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Mon Apr 15, 2019 10:48 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:Take an interest in the present moment, because this is the most interesting part of your life. We tend to measure our life in terms of our plans for the future and our memories of the past. But the way your mind is shaping your life is happening right now. This is the only place where you can watch it in action and make a difference in the choices it’s making. So you want to do your best to find something in the present that keeps you interested and keeps you anchored here, so that you can watch the processes of the mind and see what really is skillful and what’s not.
From: The Essence of the Dhamma by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

dhammapal
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Thu May 02, 2019 6:44 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:You have to hold on to the idea that YOU are actually doing this. That’s where the reflection on the “owner of my actions” comes in. That’s as far as the Buddha goes in terms of defining the self. Other people would define self in terms of whether it’s finite or infinite, whether it has form or it doesn’t have form, whether it’s eternal or not. As for the Buddha, he — for the purpose of the path — leaves the precise definition of that “I am” pretty much unexplained and unexplored. He has you take apart any attachment you might to a specific idea that you are this, or you are that, aside from this one: that you’re the agent that does the action. You’re also the person that experiences the quality of the action, depending on whether the action is skillful or unskillful. That much you maintain for a fair while along the path, until it’s no longer useful.

So even though the Buddha doesn’t go too far into the idea of what I am, there still is the idea that I am the owner and the heir of my actions. That’s all you need in order to stay on the path — in the same way that he doesn’t encourage sensual clinging, sensual passion, but he does have room for sensual pleasure on the path. In other words, he’s more interested in your having a sense not so much of what you ARE, as of what you DO. You are the doer. When you experience something, there’s also a doing in the experiencing. You want to look for that as well, because it’s not that you’re sitting here totally passive, experiencing the results of past karma. You’re also creating present karma, present intentions, right now. The intentions you have right now are going to determine what you experience and what you focus on, what you do with what you focus on. This doing is really important here.

So, for the purpose of the path, what you are doesn’t go beyond what you are as the doer, so that you focus on not so much on your identity here, but the actual quality of your actions, the quality of your intentions.
From: The Riddle of 'I Am' by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

dhammapal
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Sun May 05, 2019 6:28 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:I think this is one of the problems in our society: We tend to see equanimity as indifference and indifference as a weakness of character — that you don’t care when you should be caring. But ask yourself: Who’s placing the shoulds on you there? Even the Buddha himself didn’t place shoulds on people. The duties that he gave in the four noble truths are for people who, of their own accord, want to put an end to suffering, who see that their untrained mind is causing trouble for themselves and for other people. They see that this is the area where they have real responsibility as well as the ability to make a difference. You do have some control here, and you want to take advantage of that.
From: Keeping Your Head by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

dhammapal
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Mon May 06, 2019 3:44 pm

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:Remember: [The present moment] is here to be used. It’s not here just to hang out with the idea that, well, this is what it’s all about and this is all we have to do, just be in the present moment. That’s *abusing* the present moment: hiding away from your responsibilities, hiding away from your duties, hiding away from things that you really could get done, that would be to your benefit and the benefit of others. Regard the present moment as a means to an end, and then squeeze all the goodness you can out of it.
From: Getting the Most Out of the Present by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

dhammapal
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Thu May 09, 2019 12:04 pm

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:We live in a culture that likes to reduce things to soundbites, catchwords, buzzwords, quick and easy ways of boiling things down. As a result, when we come to the Dhamma, we find soundbite Dhamma, catchword and buzzword Dhamma. We’re told that Buddhism boils down to one particular practice, like noting, mindfulness, or spreading thoughts of lovingkindness. Sometimes we’re told that it teaches just a handful of basic principles: letting go, equanimity, emptiness, contentment, compassion. If that’s all we know of the Dhamma, we miss the fact that it has many dimensions. It does contain all of these things, but it also contains more. It can’t be reduced to just one principle.

When you approach the practice, you have to be alert to its many dimensions: sensitive not only to how you deal with your own mind, but also to how dealing with your own mind affects your relationships to other people and to the things you depend on for life. When you want to gauge how the practice is going, and to gain a sense of which teachings really are useful when applied in a particular way, you have to look at things from several angles. Just as the Buddha was said to have an “all-around eye,” you have to look at your practice from all sides.
From: An All-around Eye by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

dhammapal
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Thu May 09, 2019 12:22 pm

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:Apparently, the latest fashion is to claim that the Buddha said we are coreless, and that that’s the meaning of anatta. In other words, there’s a jumble of karmic activities that make up a human being. That’s what you are. The anatta teaching, in this interpretation, is not a not-self teaching; it’s a no-self teaching. It answers the question of what you are, saying that what you are has no core. You’re like a karmic fuzz ball. All the fuzz that’s picked up as the fuzz ball moves across the floor under the force of the wind is held together only by static electricity, but there’s no real core there. This is supposed to represent what the Buddha taught about what we are.

The problem is that the Buddha never talked about what we are. That was one of the questions he consistently avoided. If you say that there’s no core there, then when kamma ends in the attainment of nibbana, there’d be nothing left. Nothing would exist there. And the Buddha wouldn’t have gone to such trouble to say that an arahant after death can’t be said to exist or not exist or both or neither. It would be obvious: The arahant wouldn’t exist. End of problem. But that wasn’t his solution to the question. And it’s no solution to anything at all.

The Buddha was wise enough to see that however you define yourself, you limit yourself. So he wasn’t concerned with limiting us or defining us. He wanted to help us find an unlimited happiness, because that was his main purpose: to show us, not what we are, but exactly how far the quest for true happiness can go. What kind of happiness is really worth the effort put into it? Is there a happiness that doesn’t change? Something that, once you attain it, isn’t going to turn on you? And he found that such a happiness does exist. It’s the happiness of release, which he actually said is the core of all experience.
From: The Core of Experience by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

dhammapal
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Wed May 15, 2019 7:26 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:So you need to make the time — the time isn’t going to happen on its own, you know — you have to make the time to practice. Create the time to practice. Open that space in your life, so you can invest that time in the skills that are really going to be helpful all the way through. Because suffering is real — but the end of suffering is also real. That’s why the time spent investing in understanding these things, mastering the skills for putting an end to suffering, is time well spent. You suffer less. The people around you suffer less as well. As you go through the process of aging, illness, and death, if you can manage your mind, the other problems that come up are going to be minor. So this is the Buddha’s investment strategy — invest in good qualities of the mind, develop a mind that you can trust not to go flailing around when things get difficult. That’s the wisest investment of all.
From: The Buddha's Investment Strategy by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

dhammapal
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Post by dhammapal » Thu May 16, 2019 8:27 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:We’d all like to be in that kind of world where you’re at the end of a romantic movie and the couple finally gets together and everybody is so happy for them that they applaud. That doesn’t really happen that much in this world. All too often, people are jealous of other people’s good fortune. You see them happy and you feel reduced by their happiness. Which is silly. Here’s happiness free for the asking. All you have to do is be happy for *them*. So when you see someone else practicing well, someone else engaging in generosity, virtue, meditation, you see somebody ordaining, be happy for them.
From: Anumodana by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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