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 polarbuddha101 » Fri Jan 11, 2013 8:41 am

It seems to me that everyone is making too big of a deal about a book. It is a book attempting to explain a particular bhikkhu's perspective on a particular subject. It isn't an inquisition. Thanissaro isn't trying to personally defame everybody's beloved teachers and I think everyone just needs to relax and let it go. It doesn't matter an inkling how you want to define your terms as long as you have enough terms and meaning contained within them to develop and fulfill the characteristics that the buddha wanted us to. If you want sati to mean just remembrance with sampojana (I know I'm spelling it wrong) meaning awareness/alertness that is fine and it is also fine if you want sati to mean remembrance and awareness. Who gives a rat's patootey about the difference considering the fact that both interpretations ultimately admit that remembrance and awareness are necessary. If everyone wants to argue about semantics then I encourage everyone to go become linguists and make that your life's mission, otherwise don't worry, be happy.

:stirthepot:
"I don't envision a single thing that, when developed & cultivated, leads to such great benefit as the mind. The mind, when developed & cultivated, leads to great benefit."

"I don't envision a single thing that, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about such suffering & stress as the mind. The mind, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about suffering & stress."
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Re: New Book on Mindfulness by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Postby danieLion » Fri Jan 11, 2013 8:53 am

polarbuddha101 wrote:It seems to me that everyone is making too big of a deal about a book. It is a book attempting to explain a particular bhikkhu's perspective on a particular subject. It isn't an inquisition. Thanissaro isn't trying to personally defame everybody's beloved teachers and I think everyone just needs to relax and let it go. It doesn't matter an inkling how you want to define your terms as long as you have enough terms and meaning contained within them to develop and fulfill the characteristics that the buddha wanted us to. If you want sati to mean just remembrance with sampojana (I know I'm spelling it wrong) meaning awareness/alertness that is fine and it is also fine if you want sati to mean remembrance and awareness. Who gives a rat's patootey about the difference considering the fact that both interpretations ultimately admit that remembrance and awareness are necessary. If everyone wants to argue about semantics then I encourage everyone to go become linguists and make that your life's mission, otherwise don't worry, be happy.

:stirthepot:

Actually, I'm "arguing" what you just "argued" which you distinguish from "semantics" so I can't be "arguing about semantics."

Your phrase, "...the fact that both interpretations ultimately admit that remembrance and awareness are necessary..." is what I've been "arguing" for and what Dmytro is "arguing" against.

For the record, I'm usually the Reverend Thanissaro "apologist" in these threads. That goes to motive--that is my intentions are basically (barring the standard worlding defilements) pure. Even in this very thread my early posts were as a Rev. T. "apologist." Dmytro's not the only one being "flexible."
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Re: New Book on Mindfulness by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Postby Dmytro » Sat Jan 12, 2013 12:06 pm

danieLion wrote:Your phrase, "...the fact that both interpretations ultimately admit that remembrance and awareness are necessary..." is what I've been "arguing" for and what Dmytro is "arguing" against. ... Dmytro's not the only one being "flexible."


Seems like this virtual Dmytro leads an active life on his own :) What a lexical definitionalist!

polarbuddha101 wrote:It isn't an inquisition. Thanissaro isn't trying to personally defame everybody's beloved teachers and I think everyone just needs to relax and let it go.


Well said, Polarbuddha.
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Re: New Book on Mindfulness by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Postby Billymac29 » Sat Jan 12, 2013 12:16 pm

Dmytro wrote: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

This leaves much to be desired.
"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 Billymac29 » Sat Jan 12, 2013 12:17 pm

polarbuddha101 wrote:It seems to me that everyone is making too big of a deal about a book. It is a book attempting to explain a particular bhikkhu's perspective on a particular subject. It isn't an inquisition. Thanissaro isn't trying to personally defame everybody's beloved teachers and I think everyone just needs to relax and let it go. It doesn't matter an inkling how you want to define your terms as long as you have enough terms and meaning contained within them to develop and fulfill the characteristics that the buddha wanted us to. If you want sati to mean just remembrance with sampojana (I know I'm spelling it wrong) meaning awareness/alertness that is fine and it is also fine if you want sati to mean remembrance and awareness. Who gives a rat's patootey about the difference considering the fact that both interpretations ultimately admit that remembrance and awareness are necessary. If everyone wants to argue about semantics then I encourage everyone to go become linguists and make that your life's mission, otherwise don't worry, be happy.

:stirthepot:



I'm totally agreeing with this statement...
: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 danieLion » Sat Jan 12, 2013 11:31 pm

Dmytro wrote:
danieLion wrote:Your phrase, "...the fact that both interpretations ultimately admit that remembrance and awareness are necessary..." is what I've been "arguing" for and what Dmytro is "arguing" against. ... Dmytro's not the only one being "flexible."


Seems like this virtual Dmytro leads an active life on his own :) What a lexical definitionalist!

polarbuddha101 wrote:It isn't an inquisition. Thanissaro isn't trying to personally defame everybody's beloved teachers and I think everyone just needs to relax and let it go.


Well said, Polarbuddha.

If you search my posts, you'll find I'm a very active Thanissaro apologist. I started the "The Quotable Thanissaro" thread! I don't know if he's trying to defame (I doubt it). But I do want to know what, exaclty he's up to with this book. I've read all his books, listened to thousands of his talks and have concluded for now he's just being a nit-picky word nerd and stonewalling dialogue by not naming names. I still revere him as a teacher. I'm one of those people who feels that if you can't disagree with your teacher, they're not a teacher worth having.
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Re: New Book on Mindfulness by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Postby Buckwheat » Wed Jan 16, 2013 5:48 am

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.

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).

From this post, I thought you were trying to say Sati included "Non-reactivity".
Sotthī hontu nirantaraṃ - May you forever be well.
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Re: New Book on Mindfulness by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Postby manas » Wed Jan 16, 2013 7:05 am

Hi richard, just sneaking in a quick 'thank you' for letting us know about the book... :thumbsup:

with metta

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Re: New Book on Mindfulness by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Postby danieLion » Wed Jan 16, 2013 9:03 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.

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).

From this post, I thought you were trying to say Sati included "Non-reactivity".

I was freely expressing and exchanging ideas, not trying engage in precise defining. As Dmytro et al would define it formally, non-reactivity can't, as you say, be included in sati. But that just highlights the problems with definitionalism. I'm exploring relationships and patterns, not static meaning. If we stipulate that our definition of sati is unstable and dynamic, then I'm for defining. Otherwise, I've no interest in it (and don't think the Buddha did that much either).

Thanissaro's intellectual background is crucial to understanding what ax he's grinding and why he's grinding it so hard. It has very little to do with Buddhism, per se.
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Re: New Book on Mindfulness by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Jan 16, 2013 6:24 pm

polarbuddha101 wrote:It seems to me that everyone is making too big of a deal about a book. It is a book attempting to explain a particular bhikkhu's perspective on a particular subject. It isn't an inquisition. Thanissaro isn't trying to personally defame everybody's beloved teachers and I think everyone just needs to relax and let it go.
When you have one of the major online authorities on Theravada making unfortunate and negative comments as he did in this book, it deserves a considered response. And whether or not he is intentionally trying to defame anyone, his comments are unskilful and potentially quite harmful.
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 danieLion » Sat Jan 19, 2013 6:36 am

Rev. T's book seems to have many of the characteristics of what Wikipedia* calls the Etymological Fallacy, "...a genetic fallacy** that holds, erroneously, that the present-day meaning of a word or phrase should necessarily be similar to its historical meaning."

*If you want to debate the validity of Wikipedia as a valid source of knoweldge please start a new topic in the lounge or another appropriate forum.

**"A.k.a. fallacy of origins, fallacy of virtue, is a fallacy of irrelevance where a conclusion is suggested based solely on something or someone's origin rather than its current meaning or context."
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Re: New Book on Mindfulness by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Postby Buckwheat » Sat Jan 19, 2013 9:08 am

danieLion wrote:
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.

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).

From this post, I thought you were trying to say Sati included "Non-reactivity".

I was freely expressing and exchanging ideas, not trying engage in precise defining. As Dmytro et al would define it formally, non-reactivity can't, as you say, be included in sati. But that just highlights the problems with definitionalism. I'm exploring relationships and patterns, not static meaning. If we stipulate that our definition of sati is unstable and dynamic, then I'm for defining. Otherwise, I've no interest in it (and don't think the Buddha did that much either).

Thanissaro's intellectual background is crucial to understanding what ax he's grinding and why he's grinding it so hard. It has very little to do with Buddhism, per se.

The Buddha taught equanimity, which may be likened to non-reactivity (if memory serves, Ven T says that in the book). I can see where Ven Thanissaro is coming from. At certain times, confusing the time and place for sati with the time and place for equanimity may be a setback for one's life and practice. I also agree with those who feel he was too critical of other teachers. It didn't serve the overall purpose of the book, which seems to be a rigorous definition of sati (what it is and what it is not) and instruction on it's cultivation.
Sotthī hontu nirantaraṃ - May you forever be well.
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Re: New Book on Mindfulness by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Postby polarbuddha101 » Mon Jan 21, 2013 10:40 am

tiltbillings wrote:
polarbuddha101 wrote:It seems to me that everyone is making too big of a deal about a book. It is a book attempting to explain a particular bhikkhu's perspective on a particular subject. It isn't an inquisition. Thanissaro isn't trying to personally defame everybody's beloved teachers and I think everyone just needs to relax and let it go.
When you have one of the major online authorities on Theravada making unfortunate and negative comments as he did in this book, it deserves a considered response. And whether or not he is intentionally trying to defame anyone, his comments are unskilful and potentially quite harmful.


I understand your sentiments and feel that it may be skillful and helpful to both yourself and Venerable Thanissaro if you wrote him a letter detailing your sentiments and encouraging him to refrain from doing similar things in future writings/talks. Perhaps he would even edit the current book in question if you wrote him a considered response.

I sincerely encourage you to write him a letter because his book is clearly causing some level of affliction to others. Perhaps you might want to refer to the Rahula sutta in writing your letter:

"Whenever you want to do a verbal action, you should reflect on it: 'This verbal action I want to do — would it lead to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both? Would it be an unskillful verbal action, with painful consequences, painful results?' If, on reflection, you know that it would lead to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both; it would be an unskillful verbal action with painful consequences, painful results, then any verbal action of that sort is absolutely unfit for you to do. But if on reflection you know that it would not cause affliction... it would be a skillful verbal action with pleasant consequences, pleasant results, then any verbal action of that sort is fit for you to do.

"While you are doing a verbal action, you should reflect on it: 'This verbal action I am doing — is it leading to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both? Is it an unskillful verbal action, with painful consequences, painful results?' If, on reflection, you know that it is leading to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both... you should give it up. But if on reflection you know that it is not... you may continue with it.

"Having done a verbal action, you should reflect on it: 'This verbal action I have done — did it lead to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both? Was it an unskillful verbal action, with painful consequences, painful results?' If, on reflection, you know that it led to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both; it was an unskillful verbal action with painful consequences, painful results, then you should confess it, reveal it, lay it open to the Teacher or to a knowledgeable companion in the holy life. Having confessed it... you should exercise restraint in the future. But if on reflection you know that it did not lead to affliction... it was a skillful verbal action with pleasant consequences, pleasant results, then you should stay mentally refreshed & joyful, training day & night in skillful mental qualities.



Here is his mailing address if you choose to write to him:

The Abbot
Metta Forest Monastery
PO Box 1409
Valley Center, CA 92082 USA

:namaste:
"I don't envision a single thing that, when developed & cultivated, leads to such great benefit as the mind. The mind, when developed & cultivated, leads to great benefit."

"I don't envision a single thing that, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about such suffering & stress as the mind. The mind, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about suffering & stress."
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Re: New Book on Mindfulness by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Postby Billymac29 » Mon Jan 21, 2013 3:23 pm

It is fairly easy now-a-days to take snippets of peoples teachings and convey them in a certain light. Whether that view is accurate or not depends on the amount of investigation and understanding of the person in question's teaching. When things are taken out of context, it can appear as though the person's teaching is totally different to the actual way of his/her practice.

An example,

From Venerable Thanissaro's talk on 'Natural Insight'

This is why we always have to be open to whatever comes up in the course of the meditation - whatever insights, whatever realizations, whatever issues arise - because a lot of times the things that come up are more valuable than what you thought you were looking for.


You focus on the basic technique of keeping with the breath, and eventually you stumble over some really important veins in the mind. They may be veins of gold, veins of diamond, or an old layer of garbage that got laid down sometime in the past. But the basic technique is just being here, being observant, watching what happens,...


There are some other passages in there that I will not copy here. But when looking at the snippets of these sections, it can appear that Thanissaro Bhikkhu is teaching the very 'whatever comes up' and 'observing the present nonjudgementally' practice that he criticizes.

If I were to generalize his teaching of insight based on just these 2 snippets of passages, would that be an accurate measure of what the Venerable really believes is good practice? Would that portray his teachings accurately? I would say no. And add that if I were to write a book scrutinizing the Venerable's way of teaching and practice based on a few passages that "I" determined to be accurately portraying them, many people would not take my book seriously. To do any justice, I would have to read up on many teachings of the Venerable and even converse with him, as directly as I could, about his interpretation and practice.

I believe that the Venerable, maybe unknowingly, has done exactly the same thing here.

may all be well
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Re: New Book on Mindfulness by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Postby twelph » Tue Jan 22, 2013 2:10 am

Billymac29 wrote:
This is why we always have to be open to whatever comes up in the course of the meditation - whatever insights, whatever realizations, whatever issues arise - because a lot of times the things that come up are more valuable than what you thought you were looking for.


You focus on the basic technique of keeping with the breath, and eventually you stumble over some really important veins in the mind. They may be veins of gold, veins of diamond, or an old layer of garbage that got laid down sometime in the past. But the basic technique is just being here, being observant, watching what happens,...



Even those two passages taken out of context are still completely in line with what he is trying to convey in the book. Both passages acknowledge that there are useful thoughts or "garbage" that might come up during meditation. The goal of the meditator is to use discernment when watching these thoughts arise. Not to let them pass by without acknowledging them.
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Re: New Book on Mindfulness by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Postby Billymac29 » Tue Jan 22, 2013 10:13 pm

twelph wrote:
Billymac29 wrote:
This is why we always have to be open to whatever comes up in the course of the meditation - whatever insights, whatever realizations, whatever issues arise - because a lot of times the things that come up are more valuable than what you thought you were looking for.


You focus on the basic technique of keeping with the breath, and eventually you stumble over some really important veins in the mind. They may be veins of gold, veins of diamond, or an old layer of garbage that got laid down sometime in the past. But the basic technique is just being here, being observant, watching what happens,...



Even those two passages taken out of context are still completely in line with what he is trying to convey in the book. Both passages acknowledge that there are useful thoughts or "garbage" that might come up during meditation. The goal of the meditator is to use discernment when watching these thoughts arise. Not to let them pass by without acknowledging them.


I disagree.... in these passages there is no use of discernment... Neither passage says to make any discernment, just to watch and notice... He gives some examples on what might arise during meditation... and then says to just watch (no discernment) .. this is the same principle he ridicules in the "whatever comes up" approach.

the quote above literally says:
But the basic technique is just being here, being observant, watching what happens


How can that be in line with what he says in the book?

may all be well
:)
"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 tiltbillings » Tue Jan 22, 2013 11:40 pm

polarbuddha101 wrote: . . .
Thanks for the suggestion, but I see no point in doing so.
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 manas » Wed Jan 23, 2013 12:19 am

I feel saddened when I see such division here, caused by slightly differing views as to the interpretation of the Dhamma. We can all agree on the four Noble Truths, but when it comes to the Path, particularly with regard to the last two angas (samma-sati, and samma-samadhi) why do we bicker so much? :weep:



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Re: New Book on Mindfulness by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Postby daverupa » Wed Jan 23, 2013 12:28 am

manas wrote:with regard to the last two angas (samma-sati, and samma-samadhi) why do we bicker so much?


This is a good question.

Probably, (Western) Buddhist people sink a lot of their hope for the future in sammasatisamadhi, and to feel that one's samma is maybe a little miccha can be frightening and worrisome.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: New Book on Mindfulness by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Jan 23, 2013 12:54 am

:goodpost:

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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