New Book on Mindfulness by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Meditation, e.g. meditation postures, developing a regular sitting practice, skillfully relating to difficulties and hindrances, etc.

Re: New Book on Mindfulness by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Postby Goob » Sat Aug 25, 2012 8:05 am

Except that I would not say that he gave the clearest and concise meditation instruction, etc.


What exactly do you find problematic in Ven. T's interpretation of the relevant suttas and meditation instructions? I am not being defensive, just curious.
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Re: New Book on Mindfulness by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Aug 25, 2012 9:10 am

richard_rca wrote:
Except that I would not say that he gave the clearest and concise meditation instruction, etc.


What exactly do you find problematic in Ven. T's interpretation of the relevant suttas and meditation instructions? I am not being defensive, just curious.
Let me ask you: Are the suttas quoted by Ven Thanissaro open to other interpretations in terms of practice? Is his way of looking at things the only correct way and every one else's is wrong?
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

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Re: New Book on Mindfulness by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Postby Goob » Sat Aug 25, 2012 11:20 am

Let me ask you: Are the suttas quoted by Ven Thanissaro open to other interpretations in terms of practice? Is his way of looking at things the only correct way and every one else's is wrong?


My answer would be "no", there are plenty of useful and excellent interpretations out there aside from Ven Thannisaro's. I just like the way he frames things. The defensiveness in your answer is exactly why I wrote that I wasn't being protective either of my own practice or of Ven. T's interpretations, I would just simply like to know what exactly in his meditation instructions and his sutta interpretations you find questionable since you passively implied that you did and you seem to be a person who possesses a great deal of knowledge of these matters. Curiosity, no more, no less.
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Re: New Book on Mindfulness by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Postby Billymac29 » Sat Aug 25, 2012 1:11 pm

twelph wrote:Yes. Yuttadhammo believes in there being no judgments placed upon the objects(thoughts). He talks about "pure awareness".


I don't believe so.. VY stated:
"Generally translated as “mindfulness”, it is usually taken to mean “awareness” or “alertness”, both of which are ostensibly positive qualities of mind. “sati”, however, means neither."

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Re: New Book on Mindfulness by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Postby Billymac29 » Sat Aug 25, 2012 1:19 pm

VY stated
So, sati would be better translated as “recognition”, and this is how it has been referred to throughout this chapter. It is deliberate and sustained recognition that in turn allows us to see the objects of experience as they truly are.

I believe you are saying the same thing.

When VY is talking about "this chapter", it is of his own book that he is writing.

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Re: New Book on Mindfulness by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Postby twelph » Sat Aug 25, 2012 4:05 pm

From your post, YV states:
What it really means is to call to mind the objective nature of the experience, eschewing all projection, extrapolation or judgement about the object.

&
... once we fortify or reaffirm this recognition, not letting the mind move beyond simple awareness of the object for what it is, our minds will penetrate the nature of the object to the core, dispelling all doubt as its essential nature as something worth clinging to or not.

&
Reminding oneself of what one already recognizes in this way is equivalent to arresting the mind’s natural progression into projecting, judging, clinging, seeking, building up, and finally suffering.


Thanissaro Bhikkhu:
One of the most striking features of mindfulness as taught in the modern
world is how far it differs from the Canon's teachings on right mindfulness.
Instead of being a function of memory, it's depicted primarily--in some cases,
purely--as a function of attention to the present moment. Instead of being
purposeful, it is without agenda. Instead of making choices, it is choiceless and
without preferences.
In the words of two modern writers:
"Mindfulness is the quality of mind that notices what is present, without
judgment, without interference."

And when talking about even the possibility of stopping this process of judgment from occurring:
the simple question of whether such a moment of pure receptivity as a common stage of sensation actually exists. As we noted in the preceding chapter,
dependent co-arising gives a long list of factors that color awareness prior to
sensory contact--both in the process of causing suffering and stress, and in the
process of following the path

The main issue seems to be YV's use of the Abhidhamma, and Thanissaro's avoidance of it.
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Re: New Book on Mindfulness by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Postby Billymac29 » Sat Aug 25, 2012 7:51 pm

Oh I see.

Thanks :smile:

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Re: New Book on Mindfulness by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Aug 25, 2012 11:14 pm

richard_rca wrote:
Let me ask you: Are the suttas quoted by Ven Thanissaro open to other interpretations in terms of practice? Is his way of looking at things the only correct way and every one else's is wrong?


My answer would be "no", there are plenty of useful and excellent interpretations out there aside from Ven Thannisaro's. I just like the way he frames things. The defensiveness in your answer is exactly why I wrote that I wasn't being protective either of my own practice or of Ven. T's interpretations, I would just simply like to know what exactly in his meditation instructions and his sutta interpretations you find questionable since you passively implied that you did and you seem to be a person who possesses a great deal of knowledge of these matters. Curiosity, no more, no less.
The problem I have is with Ven T's simplistic and unnecessary aggressiveness and not particularly accurate approach to the vipassana tradition. As for his specific meditation instructions, such the deliberate breath manipulation sort of thing, I have no interest in it. If it works for someone, fine.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

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Re: New Book on Mindfulness by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Postby Billymac29 » Sat Aug 25, 2012 11:17 pm

Here is a link that might be of interest... It sheds some light of what VT is saying but in a more vipassana friendly way.

http://theravadin.wordpress.com/2009/02/13/mindfulness-is-not-sati/
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Re: New Book on Mindfulness by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Postby tiltbillings » Sun Aug 26, 2012 12:06 am

Billymac29 wrote:Here is a link that might be of interest... It sheds some light of what VT is saying but in a more vipassana friendly way.

http://theravadin.wordpress.com/2009/02/13/mindfulness-is-not-sati/
with metta
:anjali:
Interestingly, one can look at this as an ongoing dialogue about sati, bare attention, and such with such players, in addition to Ven Thanissaro, we have Vens Bodhi and Analayo and Rupert Gethin as well as the likes of Joseph Goldstein. Particularly after reading the book by Ven Thanisssaro, I can say that I am not a fan of his and am far less likely to turn to his writings for elucidation, but he is not wrong in asking for clarification of how such terms as sati, mindfulness, bare attention, sampajañña, yoniso manasikāra and the like are used, and discussion of these terms as we have in the linked articles and talks by the above are useful in in drawing a clearer understanding, which is good. And differing understandings is also not necessarily a bad thing.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: New Book on Mindfulness by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Postby ohnofabrications » Tue Sep 04, 2012 7:04 pm

I am usually a big fan of thanissaro's, but he loses me here.

I would say the two methods are in fact different but still clearly aimed in the same direction. Let's take a practical example. I feel very angry because I had the perception that someone thought I was stupid. In my mind I am replaying the scenario, there is mental vedana and tension in my chest. If I recognized this and I was practicing bhante style, I would simply be aware of the thoughts and feelings, the thoughts would stop for a moment as I stopped fueling them, but I would forget to just engage in bare attention and would instead start recreating the thoughts. I would then again remember, through noticing that it is suffering to trap myself in that thought-world and I would go back to just attention. The tensions and mental vedana would likely persist as subtle thoughts are still occurring, but slowly it would die out, I would move towards just experiencing the world without creating these unfortunate mindstates. Over time, doing this again and again, I would slowly recognize more and more that the pure awareness is better, and furthermore the pure awareness would become more and more pure until eventually I'd become capable of truly desiring nothing. Fabrications are intentional and impermanent so if you stop intentionally creating (some of them) there will be less of them, and if you keep working at this you will get better at the method (practice makes perfect) and you will be able to fabricate none of them.
:woohoo:

With thanissaro's method, I would, upon recognizing the unfortunate mindstate begin to actively combat it, as he suggests. I would alter my pattern of breathing, working through the tension and mental vedana intentionally with visualization and directing breath energy. I would re-formulate my narratives about the scenario - were my rights really violated? does that person thinking of me as stupid really harm me? As such I would eventually exert a fabrication to still the unskillful fabrication. Over time I would do this a lot, lose my desire for negative fabrication and only fabricate jhanas, I would then apply essentially the method above to stop fabricating entirely/desiring nothing.
:woohoo:

Is one of these better? I'd have to say that from the pali canon the buddha's stance would be that the latter was better, but the former would still work, clearly in non-theravadan schools such as soto zen or dzogchen the former is relied on exclusively or almost exclusively.

I look forward to your criticisms - do you agree that both methods would work in roughly the way I suggested?
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Re: New Book on Mindfulness by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Postby ohnofabrications » Tue Sep 04, 2012 7:37 pm

ancientbuddhism wrote:
reflection wrote:Without reading the book fully, I think even if one would interpret sati as "just seeing what arises", that already incorporates an amount of memory or recollection. In the end, you have to remind yourself to see things just as they are. It's sati that comes in and says: "Oh wait, I'm getting dragged along here." How is that not memorizing what to do? So while I don't know each and every teachers perspective, from my personal practice, I think this division is generally a lot less present than Thanissaro makes it appear to be.


But this is where the whole present moment awareness concept becomes a problem, isn’t it? As one practitioner put it to me “Okay, I get to where I am present with things, now what?” But this is where knowledge of what is arising is to develop discernment of how the mind concocts and ruminates. This is where wisdom comes in.



spot on, thank you for pointing out this common practical issue which often dissuades people from the bare attention approach, and doubtless some people are more suited to skillful fabrication rather than attempted non-fabrication. bare attention is easy, but completely counter-intuitive, you can do it for a second but fear will likely arise and you will back off, again practice makes perfect, when you can do bare attention (fabricate nothing) perfectly you touch the deathless and gain stream entry.
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Re: New Book on Mindfulness by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Postby marc108 » Tue Sep 04, 2012 10:16 pm

ohnofabrications wrote:...


i love your username :jumping:
"It's easy for us to connect with what's wrong with us... and not so easy to feel into, or to allow us, to connect with what's right and what's good in us."
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Re: New Book on Mindfulness by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Postby Anagarika » Thu Sep 06, 2012 5:05 pm

What an interesting and skillful analysis of these approaches. Nice work here, Ohno.

I won't weigh in necessarily on the two approaches. It may be true that the former approach may be useful for some people or situations, while the latter, or Ajahn Geoff's, may be useful for different situations. By saying this, I am really not saying much more than the obvious. What struck me was Ohno's analysis of the latter approach as being akin to the DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy) modality for treating some personality disorders. My point in writing today was only to observe the amazing intersection and crossover of Dhamma with what western science/psychology has only recently discovered and developed. I haven't found an article by Ajahn Geoff that makes this connection, but others like Jack Kornfield, and more recently, Richard Davidson, PhD, have explored the Buddha's approach to meditation and have applied this to modern cognitive therapy and brain science. Very cool stuff. So many in psychology bow to Jung and Freud, when they might consider deep bows and prostrations to Siddhartha Gotama.

ohnofabrications wrote:I am usually a big fan of thanissaro's, but he loses me here.

I would say the two methods are in fact different but still clearly aimed in the same direction. Let's take a practical example. I feel very angry because I had the perception that someone thought I was stupid. In my mind I am replaying the scenario, there is mental vedana and tension in my chest. If I recognized this and I was practicing bhante style, I would simply be aware of the thoughts and feelings, the thoughts would stop for a moment as I stopped fueling them, but I would forget to just engage in bare attention and would instead start recreating the thoughts. I would then again remember, through noticing that it is suffering to trap myself in that thought-world and I would go back to just attention. The tensions and mental vedana would likely persist as subtle thoughts are still occurring, but slowly it would die out, I would move towards just experiencing the world without creating these unfortunate mindstates. Over time, doing this again and again, I would slowly recognize more and more that the pure awareness is better, and furthermore the pure awareness would become more and more pure until eventually I'd become capable of truly desiring nothing. Fabrications are intentional and impermanent so if you stop intentionally creating (some of them) there will be less of them, and if you keep working at this you will get better at the method (practice makes perfect) and you will be able to fabricate none of them.
:woohoo:

With thanissaro's method, I would, upon recognizing the unfortunate mindstate begin to actively combat it, as he suggests. I would alter my pattern of breathing, working through the tension and mental vedana intentionally with visualization and directing breath energy. I would re-formulate my narratives about the scenario - were my rights really violated? does that person thinking of me as stupid really harm me? As such I would eventually exert a fabrication to still the unskillful fabrication. Over time I would do this a lot, lose my desire for negative fabrication and only fabricate jhanas, I would then apply essentially the method above to stop fabricating entirely/desiring nothing.
:woohoo:

Is one of these better? I'd have to say that from the pali canon the buddha's stance would be that the latter was better, but the former would still work, clearly in non-theravadan schools such as soto zen or dzogchen the former is relied on exclusively or almost exclusively.

I look forward to your criticisms - do you agree that both methods would work in roughly the way I suggested?
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Re: New Book on Mindfulness by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Postby ohnofabrications » Thu Sep 06, 2012 9:59 pm

ohnofabrications wrote:With thanissaro's method, I would, upon recognizing the unfortunate mindstate begin to actively combat it, as he suggests. I would alter my pattern of breathing, working through the tension and mental vedana intentionally with visualization and directing breath energy. I would re-formulate my narratives about the scenario - were my rights really violated? does that person thinking of me as stupid really harm me? As such I would eventually exert a fabrication to still the unskillful fabrication. Over time I would do this a lot, lose my desire for negative fabrication and only fabricate jhanas, I would then apply essentially the method above to stop fabricating entirely/desiring nothing.



Some evidence for my above assertion that thanissaro bhikku himself teaches bare attention (with a different role in the path) but calls it something else:

thanissaro bhikku wrote:The move from equanimity to non-fashioning is briefly described in a famous passage:

"Then, Bahiya, you should train yourself thus: In reference to the seen, there will be only the seen. In reference to the heard, only the heard. In reference to the sensed, only the sensed. In reference to the cognized, only the cognized. That is how you should train yourself. When for you there will be only the seen in reference to the seen, only the heard in reference to the heard, only the sensed in reference to the sensed, only the cognized in reference to the cognized, then, Bahiya, there's no you in that. When there's no you in that, there's no you there. When there's no you there, you are neither here nor yonder nor between the two. This, just this, is the end of stress."

— Ud 1.10

On the surface, these instructions might seem to be describing bare attention, but a closer look shows that something more is going on. To begin with, the instructions come in two parts: advice on how to train attention, and a promise of the results that will come from training attention in that way. In other words, the training is still operating on the conditioned level of cause and effect. It's something to be done. This means it's shaped by an intention, which in turn is shaped by a view. The intention and view are informed by the "result" part of the passage: The meditator wants to attain the end of stress and suffering, and so is willing to follow the path to that end. Thus, as with every other level of appropriate attention, the attention developed here is conditioned by right view — the knowledge that your present intentions are ultimately the source of stress — and motivated by the desire to put an end to that stress. This is why you make the effort not to add anything at all to the potentials coming from the past.

The need for right view would seem to be belied by the circumstances surrounding these instructions. After all, these are the first instructions Bahiya receives from the Buddha, and he attains Awakening immediately afterward, so they would appear to be complete in and of themselves. However, in the lead-up to this passage, Bahiya is portrayed as unusually heedful and motivated to practice. He already knows that Awakening is attained by doing, and the instructions come in response to his request for a teaching that will show him what to do now for his long-term welfare and happiness — a question that MN 135 identifies as the foundation for wisdom and discernment. So his attitude contains all the seeds for right view and right intention. Because he was wise — the Buddha later praised him as the foremost of his disciples in terms of the quickness of his discernment — he was able to bring those seeds to fruition immediately.

A verse from SN 35.95 — which the Buddha says expresses the meaning of the instructions to Bahiya — throws light on how Bahiya may have developed those seeds.


Not impassioned with forms
— seeing a form with mindfulness firm —
dispassioned in mind,
one knows
and doesn't remain fastened there.
While one is seeing a form
— and even experiencing feeling —
it falls away and doesn't accumulate.
Thus one fares mindfully.
Thus not amassing stress,
one is said to be
in the presence of Unbinding.
(Similarly with sounds, aromas, flavors, tactile sensations, and mental qualities or ideas.)

— SN 35.95

Notice two words in this verse: mindfulness and dispassioned. The reference to mindfulness underlines the need to continually remind oneself of the intention not to add anything to any potentials from the past. This again points to the willed nature of the attention being developed here.

MN 106 offers an alternative way of expressing this intention, at the same time offering further analysis of the stages the mind goes through when it is kept in mind. The intention is this: 'It should not be, it should not occur to me; it will not be, it will not occur to me. What is, what has come to be, that I abandon.'As the Buddha says in that discourse, a person who pursues this intention will abandon passion for sights, sounds, etc., and arrive at the equanimity of the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception. But if discernment isn't yet sharp enough, he or she will simply move the focus of passion from sensory and mental input to the equanimity itself, and thus stay fixated on that level. Thus the importance of the second word noted above — dispassion — which highlights the fact that passion is the crucial factor normally added to the seen, heard, sensed, and cognized, and thus the factor most needing to be undercut in every way possible.


I guess he thinks that when people teach bare attention and they say "don't interfere" with the flow of phenomena or whatever, that they are deluding themselves because it isn't possible. It seems clear to me that when they say "don't interfere" they mean just what he does:
The reference to mindfulness underlines the need to continually remind oneself of the intention not to add anything to any potentials from the past. This again points to the willed nature of the attention being developed here.


and

Thus, as with every other level of appropriate attention, the attention developed here is conditioned by right view — the knowledge that your present intentions are ultimately the source of stress — and motivated by the desire to put an end to that stress. This is why you make the effort not to add anything at all to the potentials coming from the past.


and from his teacher:

ajahn fuang wrote:Whenever anything hits you, let it go only as far as ‘aware’. Don’t let it go all the way into the heart.


Clearly this method works. You keep up the intention to not add any intention and eventually you succeed and drop everything as bahiya did.

So I'd have to say, thanissaro bhikku is actually completely right, meditation as they describe it if followed by a precise analytical mind such as his wouldn't lead anywhere, and it would make no sense within the pali canon, but the instructions they and their followers practice is, regardless effective.
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Re: New Book on Mindfulness by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Postby Billymac29 » Fri Sep 07, 2012 12:47 am

:goodpost:
"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 twelph » Sat Sep 08, 2012 4:31 am

Ohnofabrications, do you by any chance have a reference for the following " I would re-formulate my narratives about the scenario - were my rights really violated? does that person thinking of me as stupid really harm me? " . It's familiar, I'm just trying to put it into context. It does seem like that would be adding something to the "narrative".

I think it's also worth talking about where Nibbidā(revulsion, disenchantment, to turn away from) comes into the scenario. I know that Thanisarro usually distinguishes between skillfull and unskillful thoughts. The most useful way of describing this feeling that has helped my meditation immensely is the act of removing the "soil" from the roots of the unwholesome state of mind so that it does not grow. I think the debate might be whether watching the thought just come and go is as effective at stopping papanca as this act of turning away? Thoughts?

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Re: New Book on Mindfulness by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Postby ohnofabrications » Sat Sep 08, 2012 4:33 pm

Hi Twelph,

Firstly I am not very interested in the debate of which is more effective, I was focused on the assertion that one is simply not effective at all.

As for the narratives, he talks about this a lot in various places, how one attacks states of becoming from the physical and mental side, using the breath and using the narratives. Here is one example of how one might reformulate narratives:

thanissaro wrote:So as we meditate, we want to think about the pattern the Buddha found. We’ve got to get out of our narratives, our stories. Otherwise they drive us crazy. You go through the same old movies over and over again—movies that, if they were put up on the screen, you wouldn’t pay to watch. Yet because of the “I” and the “me”—my pain, my pleasure, my appearance, my food—you get hooked into watching them over and over again. If you want your meditation to go anywhere, you’ve got to get yourself off the hook.

The first step is to start generalizing. Think of all the beings in the world who had appearances they didn’t like, or food they didn’t like, or missed the food that they once had that they did like, or suffered both pleasure and pain. You’re not the only one. Think about that often. These are situations we all undergo. And the particulars of our appearance and food and pain and pleasure may enthrall us, but you’ve got to look at the general pattern. When you do, you find that the comings and goings of good and bad, likes and dislikes, start seeming inconsequential. As the general pattern takes the sting or the allure out of your own personal narrative, you can come to the present moment and see more clearly what you’re doing in the present moment that’s creating pain that doesn’t have to be there.


thanissaro wrote:There’s a great passage in the Canon where Ven. Sariputta says, “If someone says something really hurtful, tell yourself, ‘Ah, an unpleasant sound has made contact at the ear.’” We usually don’t think in those terms. We think, “Why is that person saying that to me? How outrageous can you get?” We create a narrative that lays more suffering on the mind. The next time someone says something really unpleasant, remind yourself: “An unpleasant sound has made contact at the ear.” That depersonalizes it. Pulls you out of it. Stops you from shooting yourself with arrows


thanissaro wrote:Remember that the Buddha said states of experience—and this includes emotions—have three components. The first is the physical, which is related to the breath. The second is the verbal component: the thoughts and narratives that go along with emotion. The third is the mental component: the feelings and the perceptions—the mental labels, the concepts that underlie the thinking, that underlie the verbal side. Once the physical side is relatively calmed down so that you can gain a toehold here, you can start looking at the other components: What are the thoughts, what are the ideas behind that particular emotion that got you going? What are the beliefs, the narratives? Do you have to believe them? Do you have to engage in them? Maybe you could tell yourself other narratives about
this situation. That way you recast the situation in a way that doesn’t generate anger or fear.

Now, if the object of your fear is genuine and not just a dream or a random idea that’s wandered through your mind, you have to dig a little bit deeper and say, “Okay, even though there is this genuine danger, what’s the most skillful way to respond?” Simply giving in to the fear is not going to help. Ignoring it is not going to help, either. You’ve got an actual danger you’ve got to deal with.So try to use your ingenuity to see how much you can prepare for the danger and what things you have to let go of so that you don’t magnify the danger. It’s like riding out a storm, as when we have these huge windstorms here and all you can do is just hide out in your hut, hide out in your tent, and hope that nothing falls on you. In the meantime, all kinds of damage is being done outside but you can’t do anything about it in the course of the storm. For the time being, you have to let go of any desire to protect those things. But you can protect your mental state, wait till the storm has passed, and then go out and survey the damage.


thanissaro wrote:If you see that a particular line of thinking is causing a lot of stress and suffering, remember: Abandoning is the task you do with the cause of stress. To drop that line of thinking, you actually have to change it, to think in the opposite way. Deep down you may feel, “This body is me.” Well, what if it’s not you? How does that change things? “My preferences are me.” Well, what if they’re not? How does that change things?

So the practice is not a matter of just watching or just being aware of things. If you see that something is unskillful, you’ve got to counteract it. And to counteract it, you’ve got to ask yourself: “What are your underlying assumptions?” The things you say “of course” to. Learn how to question that “of course.”

Think of all the great advances in science, the people who questioned the “of course.” “Why do apples fall out of trees?” “Well, of course: It’s their nature to fall.” That was what people believed for centuries. Yet Isaac Newton said, “Wait a minute, why?” And people made fun of him for asking why, but he ultimately came up with a totally different explanation. Not only does the apple fall, but the earth rises to the apple a little bit. Matter attracts matter. Of course now people are still trying to figure that one out. Why is there gravity? Maybe it’s not a force; maybe it’s a curve in space-time. But what’s that? It’s still a question, but it moves the discussion forward in a way that yields lots of benefits. If it weren’t for Newton’s formulae, we wouldn’t have been able to send out satellites and space probes to gather information about the universe.

It’s through learning how to question your basic assumptions that you gain and advance. You begin to see, “Oh, this is something I believed all along without even thinking about it, without examining it, and it’s causing me unnecessary suffering.”


note: these were found via searching thanissaro's "meditations 5 for "narrative."

A specific example from the buddha:

the buddha wrote:Punna: "Lord, I am going to live in the Sunaparanta country."

The Buddha: "Punna, the Sunaparanta people are fierce. They are rough. If they insult and ridicule you, what will you think?"

"...I will think, 'These Sunaparanta people are civilized, very civilized, in that they don't hit me with their hands.' That is what I will think..."

"But if they hit you with their hands...?"

"...I will think, 'These Sunaparanta people are civilized, very civilized, in that they don't hit me with a clod'..."

"But if they hit you with a clod...?"

"...I will think, 'These Sunaparanta people are civilized, very civilized, in that they don't hit me with a stick'..."

"But if they hit you with a stick...?"

"...I will think, 'These Sunaparanta people are civilized, very civilized, in that they don't hit me with a knife'..."

"But if they hit you with a knife...?"

"...I will think, 'These Sunaparanta people are civilized, very civilized, in that they don't take my life with a sharp knife'..."

"But if they take your life with a sharp knife...?"

"...I will think, 'There are disciples of the Blessed One who — horrified, humiliated, and disgusted by the body and by life — have sought for an assassin, but here I have met my assassin without searching for him.' That is what I will think..."

"Good, Punna, very good. Possessing such calm and self-control you are fit to dwell among the Sunaparantans. Now it is time to do as you see fit."


In these various cases people look at their narratives and see that there are ways of viewing the situation which would cause the hinderances to not arise. In my example - being angry at someone - it has been helpful to me to question this assumed idea "I have the right to ____" in reality I don't have any rights, there is just a world of cause and effect going on here, if someone does something to me which has the effect of my suffering, I might do something to stop my suffering, but thinking "this person had no right!" causes anger and is based on the assumption that I have rights.

As for nibbida - in my experience nibbida is basically arrived at when one notices that their self-created suffering is unnecessary the bare attention model sees that self-created suffering is unnecessary because it (through persistence and faith) simply stops creating them even though it feels wrong to do so. Over time it becomes clear that it is an illusion that anything but the barest of bare attentions is suffering-free. With the other method, if you have ever practiced reflections on the unwholesomeness of the body, nibbida comes in when one sees that the state of focusing on the disgusting aspects of the body is actually more unpleasant than focusing on the beautiful aspects, there is a wonderful lightness and freedom experienced, even though it is counterintuitive that focusing on the disgusting would be more pleasant.

An interesting sutta on how bare attention might help with nibbida:

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html (cula-sunnata sutta)

"Further, Ananda, the monk — not attending to the perception of the dimension of nothingness, not attending to the perception of the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception — attends to the singleness based on the theme-less concentration of awareness. His mind takes pleasure, finds satisfaction, settles, & indulges in its theme-less concentration of awareness.

"He discerns that 'This theme-less concentration of awareness is fabricated & mentally fashioned.' And he discerns that 'Whatever is fabricated & mentally fashioned is inconstant & subject to cessation.' For him — thus knowing, thus seeing — the mind is released from the effluent of sensuality, the effluent of becoming, the effluent of ignorance. With release, there is the knowledge, 'Released.' He discerns that 'Birth is ended, the holy life fulfilled, the task done. There is nothing further for this world.'

"He discerns that 'Whatever disturbances that would exist based on the effluent of sensuality... the effluent of becoming... the effluent of ignorance, are not present. And there is only this modicum of disturbance: that connected with the six sensory spheres, dependent on this very body with life as its condition.' He discerns that 'This mode of perception is empty of the effluent of sensuality... becoming... ignorance. And there is just this non-emptiness: that connected with the six sensory spheres, dependent on this very body with life as its condition.' Thus he regards it as empty of whatever is not there. Whatever remains, he discerns as present: 'There is this.' And so this, his entry into emptiness, accords with actuality, is undistorted in meaning, pure — superior & unsurpassed.

"Ananda, whatever contemplatives and brahmans who in the past entered & remained in an emptiness that was pure, superior, & unsurpassed, they all entered & remained in this very same emptiness that is pure, superior, & unsurpassed. Whatever contemplatives and brahmans who in the future will enter & remain in an emptiness that will be pure, superior, & unsurpassed, they all will enter & remain in this very same emptiness that is pure, superior, & unsurpassed. Whatever contemplatives and brahmans who at present enter & remain in an emptiness that is pure, superior, & unsurpassed, they all enter & remain in this very same emptiness that is pure, superior, & unsurpassed.


This sutta starts out with recognizing that the perceptions of village, wilderness, earth etc. are each less stressful than the last. Bare attention attempts to skip to the end, where skillful fabrication moves up the ladder. In either case though, one recognizes the lack of disturbance and naturally inclines towards that due to a nibbida with the more disturbing.
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Re: New Book on Mindfulness by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Postby Alex123 » Sat Sep 08, 2012 11:46 pm

twelph wrote:And when talking about even the possibility of stopping this process of judgment from occurring:
the simple question of whether such a moment of pure receptivity as a common stage of sensation actually exists. As we noted in the preceding chapter,
dependent co-arising gives a long list of factors that color awareness prior to sensory contact--both in the process of causing suffering and stress, and in the
process of following the path



I really like this point and was thinking about it as well. Dependent origination appears to say that consciousness is never "bare", it is conditioned by saṅkhārā-s which themselves are conditioned by ignorance (avijjā).

(avijjā -> saṅkhārā -> viññāṇa -> nāmarūpa)

For worldlings, as a general rule, even intention (cetanā) or attention (manasikāro) as part of nāmarūpa is a result of prior causes that at the root level are conditioned by ignorance.

So much for "choice-less" attention.
I was not; I was; I am not; I do not care."
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Re: New Book on Mindfulness by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Postby tiltbillings » Sun Sep 09, 2012 12:35 am

Alex123 wrote:So much for "choice-less" attention.
More accurately: So much for Ven Thanisarro's strawman version of bare-attention.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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