New Book on Mindfulness by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: New Book on Mindfulness by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Nov 06, 2012 8:34 am

danieLion wrote:I'll always like you Tilt, no matter how impatient or squabbley either of us get, even towards each other.:heart:
Thank you, but let's not go Brokeback Mountain here.
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Re: New Book on Mindfulness by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Postby Billymac29 » Thu Nov 08, 2012 12:25 pm

I grabbed this from another thread.. thought it might be nice to see again, with what Ven T. states sati is and isn't and how its practiced in some lineages.. :)

http://www.aimwell.org/Books/Mahasi/Sal ... indfulness

The most Venerable Mahasi Sayadaw certainly does not seem to be suggesting to practice "whatever comes up"... not in the least! There seems to be some discernment and ardency involved in the practice...

Wrong Mindfulness (17)

Wrong mindfulness is the recollection of worldly matters and unwholesome deeds of the past. Some remember the unwholesome things they did when they were young, their companions, the places they visited, their happy days, and so forth. They may be likened to cows chewing the cud at night. These recollections are wrong mindfulness. However, it is not wrong mindfulness when one recognises the mistakes of the past, repents, and resolves not to repeat them in future. Such repentance is right mindfulness. Some monks think of their parents, relatives, native places, and the companions of their childhood. They recall how they spent their days as laymen. They think of what they have to do for so-and-so. All these recollections of the past are wrong mindfulness.

Laymen need not reject thoughts about their sons, daughters, etc., for such recollections are natural. However, while meditating, the meditator should note and reject them. As he sits in his retreat at the meditation centre, noteing the rising and falling of the abdomen or his other bodily movements, “sitting” , “touching”, etc., the meditator recalls what he did formerly, his sayings and doings in his youth, his friends, etc. These are wrong mindfulness and have to be noted and rejected. Some old men and women think of their grandchildren. While noteing their thoughts, they have mental visions of the children near them and they fancy they hear the children calling them. All these have to be noted and expelled. Some meditators felt compelled to return home because they could not overcome these unwholesome thoughts. A meditator’s spiritual effort is often thwarted by wrong mindfulness. In the final analysis a wrong recollection is not a distinct element of consciousness. It is a collection of unwholesome elements in the form of memories concerning worldly and unwholesome things of the past.

Right Mindfulness

Opposed to wrong mindfulness is right mindfulness, or recollection of wholesome things concerning alms-giving, morality, and mental development. One recalls how one did certain skilful things at some former time — wholesome deeds such as offering kathina robes and almsfood, keeping precepts on Uposatha days, etc. This recollection of wholesome things is right mindfulness. It is the kind of mindfulness that goes along with wholesome consciousness. It is involved in every arising of wholesome consciousness such as alms-giving, devotion before the Buddha image, doing service to one’s elders, observing the moral precepts, practising mental development, etc.

No wholesome consciousness is possible without right mindfulness. However, it is not apparent in ordinary wholesome consciousness. It is evident in the practice of mental development especially in the practice of insight meditation. Hence, in the Tipitaka the elaboration of right mindfulness is to be found in the discourse on the four foundations of mindfulness. It is right mindfulness to be attentive to all bodily activites and postures, to all pleasant and unpleasant feelings, to all states of consciousness and to all mental phenomena or mind-objects.

The meditators who practise insight meditation are cultivating right mindfulness. They note all psychophysical phenomena that arise from the six senses, focussing their attention on the arising and falling of the abdomen, sitting, bending, walking, and so forth. This is developing mindfulness of the body. Sometimes the meditator notes his feelings, “painful”, “depressed”, “joyful”, “satisfying”, etc. This is to develop mindfulness of feelings. At times, attention is focused on “thinking”, “intending”, etc. This is developing mindfulness of consciousness. Then there is mindfulness in regard to “seeing”, “hearing”, “desiring”, “being angry”, “being lazy”, “being distracted”, etc. This is developing mindfulness of mental objects. Every moment of mindfulness means developing mindfulness for insight, which is very gratifying. When this mindfulness develops and becomes perfect, mindfulness on the noble path makes the meditator aware of nibbāna. So you should practise until you attain this final stage of mindfulness.





I've also listened to a talk from Bhante G. It was about 2 hours long and it was also about right mindfulness.. And it was quite the opposite of what Ven T is accusing Bhante G of.


all be well

:anjali:
"whatever one frequently thinks and ponders upon will be the inclination of one's mind"
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Re: New Book on Mindfulness by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Postby mikenz66 » Thu Nov 08, 2012 8:15 pm

Reflecting on the various posts here and elsewhere, and talks and instructions I've had in person, from books, and from the internet, I have this observation: It seems to me that perceived "errors" over issues like this one (emphasis, or not, on jhana is another example http://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=41&t=14835&p=214949#p214928) often come from not properly distinguishing instructions to beginners, instructions to experienced practitioners, and technical discussions.

For someone new to meditation, instructions like: "Just observe what comes up without judgement" is very appropriate, and a skilful teacher will follow it up with other instructions when the student is ready.

It also occurred to me that in this passage (P65) Ven Thanissaro may well take some teachers too literally, overlooking their attempts at humour:
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.

I've listened to talks by a number of teachers (Steve Armstrong for one) who will sometimes spend a whole hour discussing how mindfulness includes memory, but will also sometimes throw in the one-liner
"mindfulness is easy, remembering to do it is hard",
which I took to be a playful way of reminding ( :tongue:) the listeners that mindfulness does involve memory...

:anjali:
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Re: New Book on Mindfulness by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Postby georgerussell » Fri Nov 09, 2012 6:45 am

Thanks for provide a useful information..... :)
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Re: New Book on Mindfulness by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Postby danieLion » Wed Nov 21, 2012 9:35 am

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Re: New Book on Mindfulness by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Postby danieLion » Sun Nov 25, 2012 5:19 am

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Re: New Book on Mindfulness by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Postby danieLion » Tue Jan 01, 2013 1:32 am

1) By my reading of the suttas (to date) sati has two functions: memory/recollection and present moment awareness. Both are strongly represented in the discourses. Thanissaro seems to have a selection bias and seems to be committing a suppressed correlative fallacy.

2) Even if "non-reactivity" is not sati by Thanissaro's standards/biases/fallacies, non-reactivity is taught by the Buddha in a variety of other teachings.

3) "Non-reactivity" need not be mutually exclusive with memory/recollection or present moment awareness.

4) Thanissaro appears to have quite and ax to grind but I can only speculate as to why (and if they're valid reasons).
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Re: New Book on Mindfulness by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Postby twelph » Wed Jan 02, 2013 12:49 am

danieLion wrote:sati has two functions: memory/recollection and present moment awareness.


The memory/recollection portion of sati includes remembering the eightfold path, which includes concentration. Concentration on the appropriate objects creates present moment awareness.
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Re: New Book on Mindfulness by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Postby danieLion » Wed Jan 02, 2013 9:47 am

twelph wrote:
danieLion wrote:sati has two functions: memory/recollection and present moment awareness.


The memory/recollection portion of sati includes remembering the eightfold path, which includes concentration. Concentration on the appropriate objects creates present moment awareness.
By this logic, right-samahdi is subsumed in right-sati, rendering the path factor classificatory system nonsensical or at least too self-relfexive to be pragmatic. Futhermore, it implies that sati always refers to the path factor.
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Re: New Book on Mindfulness by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Postby Spiny Norman » Wed Jan 02, 2013 11:32 am

danieLion wrote:
twelph wrote:
danieLion wrote:sati has two functions: memory/recollection and present moment awareness.


The memory/recollection portion of sati includes remembering the eightfold path, which includes concentration. Concentration on the appropriate objects creates present moment awareness.


By this logic, right-samahdi is subsumed in right-sati, rendering the path factor classificatory system nonsensical or at least too self-relfexive to be pragmatic. Futhermore, it implies that sati always refers to the path factor.


Yes, and in any case right-samadhi is usually defined in terms of the jhanic absorptions, ie sitting meditation.
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Re: New Book on Mindfulness by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Postby Dmytro » Wed Jan 02, 2013 5:19 pm

twelph wrote:The memory/recollection portion of sati includes remembering the eightfold path, which includes concentration. Concentration on the appropriate objects creates present moment awareness.


I would say that 'sati', as remembrance, is a key to developing concentration (samadhi):

"At any time when a disciple of the noble ones is recollecting the Tathagata, his mind is not overcome with passion, not overcome with aversion, not overcome with delusion. His mind heads straight, based on the Tathagata. And when the mind is headed straight, the disciple of the noble ones gains a sense of the goal, gains a sense of the Dhamma, gains joy connected with the Dhamma. In one who is joyful, rapture arises. In one who is rapturous, the body grows calm. One whose body is calmed experiences ease. In one at ease, the mind becomes concentrated."

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

For example, it is on retreats, where one keeps constantly in mind the basis of concentration, that the progress in samadhi is likely.

In everyday life, one can benefit more from regular recollection of the basis of concentration, just for a couple of minutes, than from keeping it in mind only once a day.
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Re: New Book on Mindfulness by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Postby twelph » Wed Jan 02, 2013 6:58 pm

danieLion wrote:
twelph wrote:
danieLion wrote:sati has two functions: memory/recollection and present moment awareness.


The memory/recollection portion of sati includes remembering the eightfold path, which includes concentration. Concentration on the appropriate objects creates present moment awareness.
By this logic, right-samahdi is subsumed in right-sati, rendering the path factor classificatory system nonsensical or at least too self-relfexive to be pragmatic. Futhermore, it implies that sati always refers to the path factor.



A common interpretation of Sati is to remember the teachings of the Buddha. Sati pointing towards things like concentration and other teachings of the Buddha does not make it confusing to me. At an even more basic level it would just mean to remember to practice. The way I see it, without using sati to remember to practice, things like samadhi would not be possible. This might be the reason why sati is given such a high level of importance in the suttas.

Also, why does there seem to be so many words meaning some form of "awareness"? Sampajañña and vijjā seem to be much more commonly used for this purpose than sati.

Edit: Thanks Dmytro, much more elegantly explained.
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Re: New Book on Mindfulness by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Postby danieLion » Sat Jan 05, 2013 10:03 am

Take dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) for example. If we apply the perspective of (the book) Right Mindfulness to Marsha Linehan's (DBT originator) perspective on mindfulness, then we would have to say that she's teaching equanimity but calling it mindfulness. That's what's starting to bug me about Reverend Thanissaro's approach. It's nit-picky. He wants sati narrowly defined (within the parmameters of his selction biases and supressed correlation maneuvers). Fair enough. But the bummer (for Theravadin Buddhists and the mentally ill) is that what DBT teaches almost exactly matches what Rev. T teaches elsewhere in terms of skillfulness/unskillfulness, karma and equanimity. Furthermore, although not made explicit, the role of memory, recollection, etc... is crucial to success with DBT (not to mention REBT and CBT).

Granted, Linehan's knowledge about Buddhism is largely if not entirely informed by Thich Nhat Hanh. But again, about the worst Rev. T could justifiably accuse either of them of is not conforming to his view of what the Buddhist lexicon should be. Why didn't he just write them personally and say, "Hey, could you guys get your terminology straight?" or something like that. That would've been a much more skillful way to grind his ax. Maybe he did try to reach out to them--but I doubt it.
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Re: New Book on Mindfulness by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Postby Dmytro » Sat Jan 05, 2013 2:46 pm

Hi Daniel,

danieLion wrote:Granted, Linehan's knowledge about Buddhism is largely if not entirely informed by Thich Nhat Hanh. But again, about the worst Rev. T could justifiably accuse either of them of is not conforming to his view of what the Buddhist lexicon should be. Why didn't he just write them personally and say, "Hey, could you guys get your terminology straight?" or something like that. That would've been a much more skillful way to grind his ax. Maybe he did try to reach out to them--but I doubt it.


Did Ven. Thanissaro accuse anyone in his book? He just gives the anonymous examples and offers a perspective solidly grounded on the words of the Buddha.
In this he follows the "Four Great References" of the Mahaparinibbana sutta.

If you have grounds to consider that 'sati' has a wider meaning, and can substantiate it with Pali glosses, I would be very interested to hear your arguments.
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Re: New Book on Mindfulness by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Postby Buckwheat » Sat Jan 05, 2013 4:45 pm

danieLion wrote:1) By my reading of the suttas (to date) sati has two functions: memory/recollection and present moment awareness. Both are strongly represented in the discourses. Thanissaro seems to have a selection bias and seems to be committing a suppressed correlative fallacy.

Hi danieLion,
You are making many interesting points. I would appreciate if you can point to a passage or two in which the Buddha uses the word sati in association with non-reactivity.
Thanks,
Scott
Sotthī hontu nirantaraṃ - May you forever be well.
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Re: New Book on Mindfulness by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Postby danieLion » Wed Jan 09, 2013 9:09 am

Dmytro wrote:Hi Daniel,

danieLion wrote:Granted, Linehan's knowledge about Buddhism is largely if not entirely informed by Thich Nhat Hanh. But again, about the worst Rev. T could justifiably accuse either of them of is not conforming to his view of what the Buddhist lexicon should be. Why didn't he just write them personally and say, "Hey, could you guys get your terminology straight?" or something like that. That would've been a much more skillful way to grind his ax. Maybe he did try to reach out to them--but I doubt it.


Did Ven. Thanissaro accuse anyone in his book? He just gives the anonymous examples and offers a perspective solidly grounded on the words of the Buddha.
In this he follows the "Four Great References" of the Mahaparinibbana sutta.

If you have grounds to consider that 'sati' has a wider meaning, and can substantiate it with Pali glosses, I would be very interested to hear your arguments.

As Tilt said here viewtopic.php?f=23&t=4299&hilit=sati&start=100#p215840
tiltbillings wrote:
Sekha wrote:But there is a great difference in English between remembrance and awareness/mindfulness. If one is to hold on tenaciously to the former, the problem is that it may induce confusion for practitioners. Remembrance is directed to the present perception of a 'past object' (instructions for example), whereas awareness is directed to phenomena happening in the present moment.
And, as you correctly indicate, this points to the problem of taking a purely lexical approach to understanding Pali terms, as is taken by the OP. Meaning is determined by usage and quite clearly sati -- as it is used in text the suttas and as been shown here repeatedly -- means more than mere "remembrance." But, alas, this will continues to be a matter of contention, it seems.

Plus, you never really answered Tilt's, Sylvester's and Sekha's challenges grounded in Nyanaponika's, Analayo's and Gethin's scholarship in (that same) Sati Thread that the Satipatthana Sutta is restricted to the lexical confines you adhere to. And since this is not a Pali forum, the statements don't need to be substantiated by Pali glosses.
Are you sure you're not reifying the sutta pitaka (or maybe even Pali itself)?
Last edited by danieLion on Wed Jan 09, 2013 9:39 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: New Book on Mindfulness by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Postby danieLion » Wed Jan 09, 2013 9:12 am

Buckwheat wrote:
danieLion wrote:1) By my reading of the suttas (to date) sati has two functions: memory/recollection and present moment awareness. Both are strongly represented in the discourses. Thanissaro seems to have a selection bias and seems to be committing a suppressed correlative fallacy.

Hi danieLion,
You are making many interesting points. I would appreciate if you can point to a passage or two in which the Buddha uses the word sati in association with non-reactivity.
Thanks,
Scott

Where did I claim sati is asssociated with non-reactivity?
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Re: New Book on Mindfulness by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Postby danieLion » Wed Jan 09, 2013 9:34 am

Dmytro wrote:Did Ven. Thanissaro accuse anyone in his book?

Yes. Just because he didn't attach any names to the accusations doesn't mean they're not accusations.

At first, I thought Rev. T left names out because he doesn't want to personally offend anyone. But now I think he did it because he's not interested in a dialogue or discourse. I'm guessing this is because he'd have to admit he's making a mountain out of a mole hill all for the sake of his love for lexical meticulousness.

He's specifically attacking: Mahayana, Thich Nhat Hanh, John Kabat-Zin, Ajahn Sumedho, Joseph Goldstein, Jack Kornfield, Marsha Linehan, Tara Brach, Nyanaponika, Analayo, etc.... Why conceal it?
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Re: New Book on Mindfulness by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Postby Dmytro » Thu Jan 10, 2013 4:48 pm

Hi Daniel,

I don't see any sense in continuing the discussion with you.
Maybe we'll talk some other day and I would be able to share the beauty of Buddha's teaching in his own Pali words.

Best wishes, Dmytro
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Re: New Book on Mindfulness by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Postby danieLion » Fri Jan 11, 2013 8:20 am

Dmytro wrote:Maybe we'll talk some other day and I would be able to share the beauty of Buddha's teaching in his own Pali words.
Did the Buddha even know Pali?
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