The Quotable Thanissaro

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism

Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Sun Feb 09, 2014 1:25 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:Don't think of equanimity as a heartless or cold state of mind. It's simply a very realistic way of looking at things. Notice that in the Four Sublime Attitudes, the other three are, "May all living beings be this way, May all living beings be that way." But when you get to the fourth one, the thought is, "All living beings are the owners of their actions." There's no may in there, it's just a statement of fact. You recognize reality, you recognize the limitations in this causal realm in which we operate, and you make up your mind to work within those limitations in as creative and effective way as is possible.
From: Intelligent Equanimity by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:The Buddha isn't saying that equanimity is better than the other three attitudes. You just learn which situations require which attitude: which situations require goodwill, which require compassion, which require appreciation, which require equanimity. In this way, equanimity is not simply passive acceptance. It's an ordering of your priorities, telling you to stop wasting energy on things that can't be changed, and to focus it instead on areas where good will, compassion, and appreciation can make a difference.
From: The Story-telling Mind by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:Equanimity (upekkha) is a different emotion, in that it acts as an aid to and a check on the other three. When you encounter suffering that you can't stop no matter how hard you try, you need equanimity to avoid creating additional suffering and to channel your energies to areas where you can be of help. In this way, equanimity isn't cold hearted or indifferent. It simply makes your goodwill more focused and effective.
From: Head & Heart Together: Bringing Wisdom to the Brahma-viharas by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

With metta / dhammapal.
dhammapal
 
Posts: 664
Joined: Sun Nov 01, 2009 9:23 am
Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby rowboat » Sun Feb 09, 2014 11:39 pm

In practical terms, distinguishing among categories is worthwhile only if you have to treat each of the different categories in a different way. A doctor who formulates a theory of sixteen types of headaches only to treat them all with aspirin, for example, is wasting her time. But one who, noting that different types of headaches respond to different types of medications, devises an accurate test to differentiate among the headaches, makes a genuine contribution to medical science. The same principle applies to the categories of appropriate attention. As the Buddha stated in his first account of his Awakening, once he had identified each of the four categories, he saw that each had to be treated in a different way. Suffering had to be comprehended, its cause abandoned, its cessation realized, and the path to its cessation fully developed.

What this means is that, as a meditator, you can't treat everything in the present moment in the same way. You can't simply stay non-reactive, or simply accept everything that comes. If moments of stillness and ease arise in the mind, you can't just note them and let them pass. You should learn to develop them into jhana — the full-body pleasure and rapture of right concentration that forms the heart of the path. When mental suffering arises, you can't just let it go. You should focus whatever powers of concentration and discernment you have to try to comprehend the clinging that lies at its heart.

The Buddha and his disciples expand on this point in discourses where they show how appropriate attention should be applied to various aspects of the present. Applied to the five aggregates of form, feeling, and so forth, appropriate attention means viewing them in such a way as to induce a sense of dispassion that will help alleviate clinging (SN 22.122). Applied to perceptions of beauty or irritation, it means viewing them in such a way as to keep them from fostering obstacles to right concentration, such as sensual desire or ill will. When applied to feelings of serenity or the potential for rapture, it means viewing them in such a way that helps develop them into factors for Awakening (SN 46.51).


Excerpt from Untangling the Present
The Role of Appropriate Attention
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... gling.html
Rain soddens what is covered up,
It does not sodden what is open.
Therefore uncover what is covered
That the rain will not sodden it.
Ud 5.5
User avatar
rowboat
 
Posts: 431
Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2010 5:31 am
Location: Brentwood Bay, British Columbia

Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Tue Feb 11, 2014 2:22 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:Choose a good time to meditate. Early in the morning, right after you’ve woken up and washed your face, is often best, for your body is rested and your mind hasn’t yet become cluttered with issues from the day.

Another good time is in the evening, after you’ve rested a bit from your daily work. Right before you go to sleep is not the best time to meditate, for the mind will keep telling itself, “As soon as this is over, I’m going to bed.” You’ll start associating meditation with sleep, and, as the Thais say, your head will start looking for the pillow as soon as you close your eyes.

If you have trouble sleeping, then by all means meditate when you’re lying in bed, for meditation is a useful substitute for sleep. Often it can be more refreshing than sleep, for it can dissolve bodily and mental tensions better than sleeping can. It can also calm you down enough so that worries don’t sap your energy or keep you awake.

But make sure that you also set aside another time of the day to meditate too, so that you don’t always associate meditation with sleep. You want to develop it as an exercise in staying alert.

Also, it’s generally not wise to schedule your regular meditation for right after a large meal. Your body will be directing the blood down to your digestive system, and that will tend to make you drowsy.
From: With Each & Every Breath: A Guide to Meditation by Thanissaro Bhikkhu (135 page pdf)

With metta / dhammapal.
dhammapal
 
Posts: 664
Joined: Sun Nov 01, 2009 9:23 am
Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Thu Feb 13, 2014 11:59 pm

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:When discussing the Buddha's teachings, the best place to start is with his Awakening. That way, one will know where the teachings are coming from and where they are aimed.

To appreciate the Awakening, though, we have to know what led Prince Siddhattha Gotama — the Buddha before his Awakening — to seek it in the first place. According to his own account, the search began many lifetimes ago, but in this lifetime it was sparked by the realization of the inevitability of aging, illness, and death.
From: Wings to Awakening by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

With metta / dhammapal.
dhammapal
 
Posts: 664
Joined: Sun Nov 01, 2009 9:23 am
Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Sat Feb 15, 2014 5:37 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:So whatever comes up in the meditation, whether it's good or bad or whatever, always try to keep a good sense of humor. Even when things seem to be going well, maintain a good sense of humor. Don't get swollen up with your importance or your accomplishment, because then you get complacent and it's easy to crash.

When I went to study with Ajaan Fuang, one of the first things that really drew me to him was his sense of humor. A good sense of humor usually goes with wisdom. The ability to step back and keep things in perspective: That's what makes you wise. It's precisely what you need as a meditator. So when things start getting grim, when nothing seems to work, just step back for a bit and try to regain your good humor. You'll find that that, more than anything else, will carry you through.
From: Good Humor by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

With metta / dhammapal.
dhammapal
 
Posts: 664
Joined: Sun Nov 01, 2009 9:23 am
Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Sun Feb 16, 2014 7:25 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:So look at this as a friendly path. Think of all the people who have tried the path before as your friends: They are happy to have you join them. And think of the things within body and mind that you’d like to be friendly with, too: your breath, the good qualities of your mind. This is a practice that allows you to develop those friendships — friendships that will never leave you, that will never turn on you, where your friends keep on giving. That kind of friendship takes time but it’s more than worth the effort. To develop that kind of friendship you have to be giving, too. What are you asked to give? You’re asked to give of your patience, give of your respect, give of your confidence. Those are good things to give, because you never run out. When you find the proper object for your respect, you find that respect becomes a strength — something you can rely on, something you can depend on, all the way to the end of suffering.
From: Respect, Confidence & Patience by Thanissaro Bhikkhu (pdf file)

With metta / dhammapal.
dhammapal
 
Posts: 664
Joined: Sun Nov 01, 2009 9:23 am
Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Mon Feb 17, 2014 12:15 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:Of course, the Buddha's purpose in pointing out pain and suffering wasn't just to stop right there, pointing them out and saying, "Isn't that horrible." He says, "Look. There's a solution." In fact, his approach to pain is extremely optimistic: Human beings can put an end to suffering, in this lifetime, through their own efforts.
From: An Introduction to Pain by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

With metta / dhammapal.
dhammapal
 
Posts: 664
Joined: Sun Nov 01, 2009 9:23 am
Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Tue Feb 18, 2014 10:42 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:So learn to be your own best friend. It's not a matter of being pessimistic or optimistic. It's a matter of learning to be heedful. Heedfulness involves an interesting combination of qualities. On the one hand, you're confident that your actions do make a difference, so heedfulness is not negative or pessimistic. On the other hand, you realize that there are dangers out there, dangers inside as well. There are difficulties you've got to work with. You respect those difficulties but you don't get overwhelmed by them. In other words, you've got to drop the element of conceit from your grasp. Don't bring your "self" into what you're doing. Don't bring "I can do this really easily" or "I can't do this at all." Just put them aside and see what you can do.
From: Conceit by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

With metta / dhammapal.
dhammapal
 
Posts: 664
Joined: Sun Nov 01, 2009 9:23 am
Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Thu Feb 20, 2014 2:01 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:Michaelangelo at the age of 87 reportedly said that he was still learning how to sculpt. Well, that should be your attitude as you meditate. There are always things to learn. Even arahants have things to learn. They've learned enough already to overcome their defilements, but they're still learning other things because they're attentive all the time. They're watching what's going on. Their sensitivity has been heightened.
From: Sensitivity All the Time by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

With metta / dhammapal.
dhammapal
 
Posts: 664
Joined: Sun Nov 01, 2009 9:23 am
Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Fri Feb 21, 2014 1:54 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:And try and put yourself in good humor. One of the things I noticed about all the really great meditation teachers in Thailand was that they had good senses of humor. They found it easy to direct that humor at themselves. And as someone has pointed out, the ability to step back from things is what allows a sense of humor to begin with. If you’re totally immersed in your problem, you begin to lose perspective and nothing is funny at all. Step back a bit, learn to laugh at yourself in a good-humored way — not in a sarcastic way, but a good-humored way, a sympathetic way — and then get on with the practice. You’ll find then that things go a lot better.
From: Respect, Confidence & Patience by Thanissaro Bhikkhu (pdf file)

With metta / dhammapal.
dhammapal
 
Posts: 664
Joined: Sun Nov 01, 2009 9:23 am
Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Fri Feb 21, 2014 5:27 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:They teach us how to explore our own minds. That's what the Buddha's instructions are all about. He says, "Try this, try that. Here's a range of useful tools. See what insights you gain into your own minds. Look for the workings of the mind that cause unnecessary suffering."

So as we practice, it's not an issue of being obedient or not. It's a question of looking into our own minds, using the tools the Buddha gave us to explore the possibilities that are here.
From: Exploring Possibilities by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

With metta / dhammapal.
Last edited by dhammapal on Sat Feb 22, 2014 4:18 am, edited 1 time in total.
dhammapal
 
Posts: 664
Joined: Sun Nov 01, 2009 9:23 am
Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Sat Feb 22, 2014 3:22 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:Given that karma is intention, and intention is the huge shaping force in your life, you want some control over it. If you make up your mind to do something that you know is good, you want to be able to stick with that intention. And where does intention happen? Right in the present moment. Where does it get changed? In the present moment. This is why we focus on the present moment, so that we can see the process of intention in action as it happens and can have a say in where that intention is going to go. The more solidly you can stay in the present moment - the more steadily you can maintain your balance here - the more you'll be able to see, and the more conscious say you'll have in the direction those intentions are going to take you.
From: Sticking with an Intention by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

With metta / dhammapal.
dhammapal
 
Posts: 664
Joined: Sun Nov 01, 2009 9:23 am
Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Sat Feb 22, 2014 4:14 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:The issues that you tend to find most fascinating or those that cause you the most trouble: Those are the issues you should focus on for the sake of insight, the insights that first lead to stronger concentration, and then lead to release.

No one can tell you beforehand what’s going to be the topic on which you can settle down.... No one can tell you what’s going to give rise to insight. There are all sorts of insight techniques out there, but they’re really just sophisticated forms of concentration. The actual insight has to come from seeing how your own mind works. And the best way to see it working is to put it through the laboratory experiment of getting it to settle down.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/thanissaro/eDhammaTalks_3.pdf
From: The Riddle Tree by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

With metta / dhammapal.
dhammapal
 
Posts: 664
Joined: Sun Nov 01, 2009 9:23 am
Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Sat Feb 22, 2014 11:19 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:So as we practice in our imperfect ways, it’s good to remind ourselves that the Buddha himself started out imperfect as well. As we make mistakes, it’s good to remind ourselves that the Buddha made mistakes, too, but he also pointed the way out of your mistakes. You can change the way you act, and it’s important that you do because your actions shape your life. The pleasure and pain you experience in life comes from your actions, not from anything you innately are. So when you notice that there are problems in your life, look here at what you’re doing. What are your intentions? What are your actions? What can you change?

This requires that you be very honest with yourself, that you have the integrity to admit your mistakes, to see the connection between your intentions and the results of your actions, and the compassion, both for yourself and the people around you, not to want to cause harm. Once you’ve developed this integrity in your day-to-day life, then it’s a lot easier to bring the integrity into your meditation, because integrity lies at the basis of meditating well, too. This is why the precepts are so important. They develop this quality of integrity. If you can’t be honest with yourself on the blatant level, then it’s very hard to be honest with yourself on the subtle level of the practice.

So it’s good to keep reflecting on those instructions to Rahula, because they focus on the basic principle that underlies everything in the practice: Your actions are important, so be very careful. At the end of the Buddha’s teaching career, he closed with the words, “Bring your practice to completion through heedfulness.” What does it mean to be heedful? It means that you have to be very careful about what you do, because what you do does make a difference, and it does make a difference to be heedful. If everything were totally predetermined by some principle of fate or iron-clad causality, nothing would make any difference at all, and the Buddha wouldn’t have had any reason to teach. Or if your actions didn’t really make a difference, there would be no reason to be heedful. But they do make a difference. And the care you take in looking at your intentions and looking at the results of your actions: That’s what determines whether you’ll be able to complete the path or not.

So when you’re looking for a Buddhist principle to apply in all areas, this is it:
Be careful about what you do, be heedful about what you do, because it makes an important difference in your life.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/thanissaro/eDhammaTalks_2.pdf
From: The Basic Pattern by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

With metta / dhammapal.
dhammapal
 
Posts: 664
Joined: Sun Nov 01, 2009 9:23 am
Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Sun Feb 23, 2014 1:11 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:The ultimate goal of the practice, of course, is to be able to get out of all these worlds entirely. That's what it really means to wake up. But in the meantime, you can have your little awakening when you wake up in the middle of one of your created worlds, and say, "Oh, this is suffering. It doesn't have to be here." And you look in the right place instead of placing the blame on other people in the past or in the present. The suffering doesn't come from them. The suffering comes from the way the mind thinks about things. It creates impossible situations and then burdens itself with them. It doesn't have to do that. Mindfulness, concentration, and discernment form the way out.

And those aren't just vague abstractions. Mindfulness is the ability to remember what you're doing as you move from one state of mind to another. Alertness is the ability to see, "I'm doing something that's causing suffering." And discernment is what sees that it doesn't have to be that way. There's an alternative.

So as we're sitting here, we're gaining practice in precisely the skills we need in order to keep our sanity. Just start exploring some of the mind's possibilities in terms of the different identities it can take on, and the different worlds it can inhabit. The meditation gives you a good, safe, healthy world to inhabit. Learn to appreciate this skill, because it's your lifeline. And make the most of your opportunity to master it.
From: Moving Between Thought Worlds by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

With metta / dhammapal.
dhammapal
 
Posts: 664
Joined: Sun Nov 01, 2009 9:23 am
Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Sun Feb 23, 2014 5:42 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:You can't totally drop human action until you understand the nature of action. This is really important. We like to think that we can simply stop doing, stop doing, stop doing, and things will settle down, get calm, and open up to emptiness. But that's more like zoning out than meditating. There is an element of stopping in the meditation, an element of letting go, but you can't really master it until you understand what you're trying to stop, what you're letting go. So try to watch out for that.
From: Watch What You're Doing by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

With metta / dhammapal.
dhammapal
 
Posts: 664
Joined: Sun Nov 01, 2009 9:23 am
Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Sun Feb 23, 2014 10:07 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:Use your imagination: You can make your imagination part of the path as well. This is another one of those factors we’re told to avoid at all costs, but that doesn’t work. When things aren’t going well, you have to imagine other ways that they might be able to go.

When the admissions people in some of the more advanced universities throughout the country interview candidates who want to be brain surgeons, they have to assume that everyone who walks in the door is smart; no dumb people are going to apply to be brain surgeons. But not everybody who’s smart is going to be a good surgeon. So the admissions people need the right questions to ferret out the qualities that make a smart person a good surgeon. And they’ve found that one of the best questions is: “Can you tell us about a mistake you made recently?” And the best follow-up question is: “If you had a second chance to do it all over again, how you correct your mistake?” The candidates who answer that they can’t think of any mistakes are the ones who are thrown out immediately. The ones who say “Oh, I made a mistake the other day... and this is how I’d do it again the second time around”: Those are the ones who’d make good surgeons.

Well, the same attitude makes you a good meditator. If you see that things are not going well, you have to use your imagination to figure out what might be another way of approaching things. So imagination here doesn’t mean simply wandering off. You apply your imagination to what’s going on in the present moment, to what you’re doing in the present moment, to get better and better results.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/thanissaro/eDhammaTalks_2.pdf
From: Exploring by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

With metta / dhammapal.
dhammapal
 
Posts: 664
Joined: Sun Nov 01, 2009 9:23 am
Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Sun Feb 23, 2014 8:24 pm

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:So when you're practicing concentration don't be afraid of being attached to it. In fact, you should get attached here. That's part of the whole dynamic of the practice. Allow yourself to be attached to the breath, get to play with the breath, make the breath a really comfortable, good place to stay. As the breath gets more refined, you find that the mind goes through more refined stages. The two help each other along. The greater the refinement of the mind, the more refined the breath, and vice versa, back and forth. And you find that your concentration does go through clearly discernible levels. But again, don't be afraid of getting attached to them. The whole point is to want to be there, to want to develop the mastery that allows you to bring the mind to those levels whenever you need them, and to stay centered in them as long as you like. This is why the Buddha — unlike a lot of modern teachers — never warned his students against getting attached to jhana. In fact, his instructions when he sent them off to meditate were always very clear: "Go do jhana." And he wanted them to master it.
From: At the Door of the Cage by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

With metta / dhammapal.
dhammapal
 
Posts: 664
Joined: Sun Nov 01, 2009 9:23 am
Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Tue Feb 25, 2014 2:05 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:In addition, the terms of appropriate attention - the four noble truths - are not concerned simply with events arising and passing away in the present moment. They also focus on the causal connections among those events, connections that occur both in the immediate present and over time. If you limit your focus solely to connections in the present while ignoring those over time, you can't fully comprehend the ways in which craving causes suffering: not only by latching on to the four kinds of nutriment, but also giving rise to the four kinds of nutriment as well.

This narrow focus places an obstacle in your ability to develop right view - and in particular, your ability to see dependent co-arising as a self-sustaining process. If, in line with the standard materialist view, you regard consciousness as a mere by-product of material processes, then there's no way you can appreciate the full power of consciousness and craving to generate the food that can sustain the processes of suffering indefinitely. And if you don't fully appreciate this power, there's no way that you can effectively bring it to an end.
From: The Truth of Rebirth and Why it Matters for Buddhist Practice by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

With metta / dhammapal.
dhammapal
 
Posts: 664
Joined: Sun Nov 01, 2009 9:23 am
Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Tue Feb 25, 2014 3:33 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:In fact, the Buddha mastered some ego skills that Western psychology has yet to explore, such as how to use right concentration to satisfy the desire for immediate pleasure; how to develop an integrated sense of causality that ultimately makes a sense of self superfluous; how to harness the ego's drive for lasting happiness so that it leads to a happiness transcending space and time.
http://www.dhammatalks.org/Archive/Writings/Head&Heart.pdf
From: The Wisdom of the Ego by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

With metta / dhammapal.
dhammapal
 
Posts: 664
Joined: Sun Nov 01, 2009 9:23 am
Location: Sydney, Australia

PreviousNext

Return to General Theravāda discussion

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Yahoo [Bot] and 8 guests