The Quotable Thanissaro

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism

Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Tue Jul 15, 2014 9:35 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:Stay with the whole body as you breathe in, the whole body as you breathe out, and then work to maintain that sense of wholeness. In the beginning you’ll find that the work may seem to be too strenuous because you’re not doing it very efficiently. Just notice what needs to be done, what doesn’t need to be done in order to maintain that whole-body awareness until you find that you can maintain it with ease. You’ll find that there may be slips. You’re working with trial and error here. You’re working on a skill. Try to think back to whatever manual skills you’ve developed — carpentry, sports, cooking skills, whatever — and the attitude you had to foster to help master the skill. If there’s a mistake, you don’t let yourself get upset by the mistake. Just start all over again.
From: The Basic Medicine by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Wed Jul 16, 2014 9:32 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:So the things you learn are not all generalities. We’re here to develop a skill and a skill requires that you read the situation. Then you apply what’s appropriate in line with the particulars of the situation, in terms of what works, what gets the kind of results you need.
So keep these points in mind: that you’re here not only to remember the teachings and then force them on the mind. You’re trying to gain a range of skills to apply them in the mind and see what works and what doesn’t work.
<snip>
The only way you can develop discernment is by being sensitive. And “sensitive” here doesn’t mean that you have sensitive feelings that are easily hurt. It means being sensitive to what’s actually going on, sensitive to what you’re doing, and sensitive to how it connects with the results. This is why we have to develop concentration. It’s the steadiness of our gaze that allows us to see the connection between what we did and the results when they come up. Sometimes they’re immediate. Sometimes they’re not. But it’s only when you learn how to develop that sensitivity to cause and effect that you’re going to gain the genuine discernment that leads to release.
From: The Wise, Experienced Cook by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Wed Jul 16, 2014 12:20 pm

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:So as you try to exercise restraint in these ways, it teaches you lots of lessons. On the one hand, it teaches you that you are more in control of your environment than you thought, simply by the way you look or listen or smell things, the way you go about tasting things, touching things, thinking about things. These activities can have a huge impact. And you can be more skillful in this impact on the mind if you exercise some restraint.... We’re here to find a way out. And the way out is by looking into the mind. How do you shape things? When you go about looking and listening, thinking, what are you looking for? Can you look and listen in a different way? When you frame things in this way, it’s really empowering.
From: Two Things to Keep in Mind by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Thu Jul 17, 2014 9:37 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:There’s a Pali term raga, which is usually translated as passion, and there’s its opposite viraga, dispassion. And there are areas where raga is a good thing: passion for the Dhamma is a good thing; the desire to practice; the desire to attain the results of the practice. Having a passion for these things is actually a passion that the Buddha encouraged. Otherwise raga is something that you’ve got to watch out for as a major cause of suffering. And its an important stage of the practice, an important attainment to be able to develop viraga: first there’s dispassion for sensual things, sensual pleasures – although it’s actually dispassion for sensual desires – we’re in love with our sensual desires more than we are with the actual pleasures.
From: Passion, Dispassion, Compassion by Thanissaro Bhikkhu (mp3 audio)
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Fri Jul 18, 2014 7:53 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:Ajaan Fuang would have people get in touch with their breath. He'd use a few analogies and similes, and then he'd listen to the words they used to describe their own experience of meditation, when the breath felt "sticky,"' when it felt "solid" or "dense," when it felt "full." And then he'd use their vocabulary to teach them further. For instance, one of his students would talk about the "delicious breath," so Ajaan Fuang would start his instructions to that student by saying, "Get in touch with the delicious breath." In this way, the meditation is not something imposed from outside.
From: A Private Matter by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Sat Jul 19, 2014 1:14 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:Buddhist wisdom famously focuses on perceptions of inconstancy, stress, and not-self, but the application of that wisdom grows out of the pursuit of what is relatively constant and pleasant, and requires a mature sense of self: able to plan for the future, to anticipate dangers, to sacrifice short-term happiness for long-term happiness, to consider the needs of others, to substitute harmless pleasures for harmful ones, and to develop a strong sense of self-reliance in the pursuit of a happiness that is wise, pure, and compassionate.
From: Merit: The Buddha's Strategies for Happiness part I by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Sat Jul 19, 2014 1:22 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:Inconstant: The Pali term here is anicca, which is sometimes translated as “impermanent,” but that’s not what it really means. Its opposite, nicca, describes something that’s done constantly and reliably. You can depend on it. If something is anicca, it’s unreliable. Remember that these perceptions are used to evaluate the happiness provided by fabrications, to question the extent to which that happiness is worth the effort involved in fabricating it. There are many instances in which mind can satisfy itself with things that are only relatively permanent, so impermanence is not automatically a sign that a particular happiness is not worth the effort. But if you focus on the unreliability of a particular happiness, it’s easier to develop dispassion for it.
<snip>
The purpose of the perception of stress is to draw attention to the fact that any pleasure that’s inconstant is inherently stressful — like trying to find rest while sitting on a chair with wobbly, uneven legs.
From: Discernment: The Buddha's Strategies for Happiness part II by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Sun Jul 20, 2014 2:42 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:Because people have trouble thinking straight when they're suffering, they need reliable instruction in what really is causing their suffering, and what they can do to put an end to it, before they can actually find the way out of their suffering and arrive at true happiness. And it's important that these instructions not introduce other issues that will distract them from the main issue at hand.

This is why the path to true happiness begins with right view, the understanding that helps clear up the mind's bewilderment. Right view is not just a matter of having correct opinions about why there's suffering and what can be done about it. Right view also means knowing how you gain right opinions by asking the right questions, learning which questions help put an end to suffering, which questions get in the way, and how to use this knowledge skillfully on the path to true happiness.
From: Strategies of Self & Not-self by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Mon Jul 21, 2014 7:23 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:Other helpful attitudes toward the past include gratitude and forgiveness: the ability to appreciate the good things that other people have done for you, and to forgive them for the bad.
From: The Karma of Happiness: A Buddhist Monk Looks at Positive Psychology by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Tue Jul 22, 2014 10:20 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:And when the present moment is full of distractions, don't think of the process of dealing with your distractions as getting in the way of where you want to go. If you see it simply as getting in the way, you're going to overlook it and try to push through it blindly. Instead, see it as, "This is the spot where the Awakening is going to happen, where the understanding is going to happen, and through the process of watching the breath, catching the mind as it wanders off, and bringing it back, that's where all the insights are going to arise." In other words, the problems in the present are not something you simply want to push your way through or get out of the way; they're something you want to look into — because the Buddha had an amazing insight about the present.
From: The Story behind Impatience by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Tue Jul 22, 2014 10:23 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:Because people have trouble thinking straight when they're suffering, they need reliable instruction in what really is causing their suffering, and what they can do to put an end to it, before they can actually find the way out of their suffering and arrive at true happiness. And it's important that these instructions not introduce other issues that will distract them from the main issue at hand.

This is why the path to true happiness begins with right view, the understanding that helps clear up the mind's bewilderment. Right view is not just a matter of having correct opinions about why there's suffering and what can be done about it. Right view also means knowing how you gain right opinions by asking the right questions, learning which questions help put an end to suffering, which questions get in the way, and how to use this knowledge skillfully on the path to true happiness....

In the same way, the Buddha would answer only the questions that provided an answer to our primal question and helped put an end to suffering and stress. Questions that would get in the way, he would put aside, because the problem of stress and suffering is urgent.
From: Strategies of Self & Not-self by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Thu Jul 24, 2014 4:47 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:Buddhism is unusual among the world’s religions in that it was founded by someone who had made mistakes, or admits that it was founded by someone who knew that he had made mistakes. The Buddha was a human being just like us. Through the many years of his many lives, he knew he made lots of mistakes but he learned how to learn from those mistakes and that’s what made all the difference. So he knew what it’s like to make a mistake, to regret making mistakes, to be in this position of living forward but only understanding backwards.

And so from his experience of learning how to overcome those difficulties, he gives us some wise advice on trying to prevent as many mistakes as we can. But also learning how to live with mistakes, because that’s what life is full of. We always make mistakes. We often make mistakes. And if we take them as an opportunity to learn — rather than a reason either to go into strong guilt or strong denial — we take them as an opportunity to learn, we can benefit from them. As we come to understand more and more what’s going on right now, the more clearly you see right now, then the less likely the choices you make are going to cause harm on into the future.
From: Living Forwards, Understanding Backwards by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Sat Jul 26, 2014 6:42 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:But if you simply brood on the mistakes you made in the past, you don’t leave yourself the energy needed to act skillfully in the present moment. It’s a matter of priorities: Where are you going to focus your energies to get the best results? The reflection connecting the principle of karma with equanimity is meant to clear the decks so that you can focus right there, on your present actions. That’s where the true issue is. That’s what underlies the basic structure of reality. When you can focus here, you don’t get all caught up in all the “what ifs” about the past: “What if I had done this? What if I hadn’t done that?” All those “what ifs” about the past are a massive waste of time. The important “what if” is: “What if I act skillfully now?” Try that out.
From: Intelligent Equanimity by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Sun Jul 27, 2014 7:23 pm

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:The Buddha, however, didn't embrace change, didn't encourage change for the sake of change, and certainly didn't define resistance to change as the cause of suffering. Suffering is caused by identifying with change or with things that change. Many are the discourses describing the perils of “going along with the flow” in terms of a river that can carry one to whirlpools, monsters, and demons (Iti 109). And as we noted above, a pervasive theme in the Canon is that true happiness is found only when one crosses over the river to the other side.
From: The Buddha Via The Bible by Thanissaro Bhikkhu (33 page pdf)
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Wed Jul 30, 2014 8:20 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:Many people in the modern world come to Buddhism suffering from their conceptual framework. They're raised in a materialist worldview whose basic concepts — that life comes from nothing and returns to nothing, with a brief chance to pursue pleasure in the interim — are pretty dismal. They believe that if they could free their minds from these concepts and simply dwell in the present with no thought of what happens at the end, they'd be happy. They'd be able to squeeze as much pleasure out of the present as they could before the inevitable hits.

So they look for a way to be free of all concepts. When they come here, though, they run into concepts. They see the Buddha's teachings on kamma and rebirth, and they say, "This is invalid; you can't make presuppositions about these things. Nobody knows anything about what happens before we're born. Nobody knows anything about what happens after we die. Doesn't the Buddha say that you have to prove things before you can accept them? All we know is that you can blot these issues out of the mind and be in the present moment without any concepts, and that's happiness." So that's what they want the Buddha's teachings to be. They don't realize that they're judging the Buddha's teachings by the very concepts that are making them miserable. The idea that we can't know beyond our immediate sensory experience, so therefore we just try to heighten our immediate sensory experience: That's a concept itself, and although it may aim at going beyond concepts, it doesn't really get you there. The Buddha's concepts, though, actually give results. They're very open about the fact that you have to use concepts to get beyond concepts, and their idea of what's there when the path has freed you from concepts is more than just a pleasant oblivion in the present. It's another dimension entirely.
From: The Raft of Concepts by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Thu Jul 31, 2014 1:36 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:And the happiness you see in other people is not a sign that they have more good kamma than you do. There’s no such thing as a single kamma account for each person, and what you see is not the running balance in that single account. We all have lots of different actions in the past, and those actions are like seeds that will sprout at different times. Some of them take a long time; some of them take a short time. When you look at your present condition, or anyone else’s present condition, you don’t see the unsprouted seeds. There’s no telling what they’ll yield when they sprout. So a person’s present happiness is no indicator of what karmic potentials he or she has in store — which means that there’s no need to be jealous of anyone else’s present happiness.
From: Living Forwards, Understanding Backwards by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Thu Jul 31, 2014 7:36 pm

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:The most unskillful response to fear is when, perceiving dangers to our own life or property, we believe that we can gain strength and security by destroying the lives and property of others. The delusion pervading our fear makes us lose perspective. If other people were to act in this way, we would know they were wrong. But somehow, when we feel threatened, our standards change, our perspective warps, so that wrong seems right as long as we're the ones doing it.
From: Freedom From Fear by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Mon Aug 04, 2014 5:56 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:So give the present moment some space. Don't push it too hard, thinking you've got to get this or that result in this or that amount of time. Really look at what's going on here without impatience, without the narrative that gives the push to impatience. That's when you'll get to see what's interesting and unplanned — because the spot where intention enters into the causal pattern, the route by which it enters in, is also the route by which you're going to get out. And it's right here. It's not in the past, it's not in the future, it's right here. Allow yourself to settle down right here, and that way you'll get to see it, to know it, and to follow it to release.
From: The Story behind Impatience by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Tue Aug 05, 2014 1:26 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:So keep reminding yourself that meditation is a long-term project. When you have a sense of that long arc of time, it's a lot easier to sit back and work very carefully at the basic steps. It's like learning any skill. If, in one afternoon, you want to gain all the skills you're going to need to play tennis, you end up doing them all very sloppily and won't get the results you want. But if you realize that this may take time, you can work on one skill at a time: How do you keep your eye on the ball? How long is your backswing? Take the skill apart step by step by step and be willing to work on small things like this bit by bit by bit so that you really understand them deep down in your bones. That way, when the time comes to make choices, they'll be judicious choices, not judgmental choices, and you'll get the results you want.
From: Judicious vs. Judgmental by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Tue Aug 05, 2014 9:35 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:Several similes and descriptions in the discourses give a sense of how mindfulness plays this supervisory role. In Snp 1:4, for instance, the Buddha compares mindfulness to a goad: a sharp implement that a farmer uses to poke a beast of burden that has become distracted from its task — to remind it of its task, to warn it of the dangers of forgetting its task, and to get it moving. In this simile, the beast of burden is persistence. In the same way, mindfulness serves to poke right effort to change its focus from unskillful distractions — such as greed and distress with reference to the world — and to direct it back to the duties dictated by the proper frame of reference.
From: Right Mindfulness: Memory & Ardency on the Buddhist Path by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
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