New Book on Mindfulness by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: New Book on Mindfulness by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Postby cittaanurakkho » Mon Aug 13, 2012 2:33 pm

mikenz66 wrote:It would be highly inaccurate to describe any of the teachers that have been mentioned in this thread as teaching their students no more than "just watch what comes up".


I have read only a few pages of Ven. T. new book. So I search the whole book for "just watch what comes up" and found none.
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Re: New Book on Mindfulness by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Postby cittaanurakkho » Mon Aug 13, 2012 3:16 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
mikenz66 wrote:It would be highly inaccurate to describe any of the teachers that have been mentioned in this thread as teaching their students no more than "just watch what comes up".

There are quotes in chapter 4, which I think present cartoon versions of teachings:
Thank you for tying these quote to actual authors and books so that we can see the fuller context. "Cartoon version" is to grossly understate what Ven Thanissaro has done. It is dishonest.


Tilt,

You are essentially claimming that Ven. T. is dishonest based on the evidence that his quote is "cartoon version" which distort what the actual authors/books were teaching. If he is indeed dishonest, that is quite a breach of conduct. Particularly considering that the dishonesty entails an intentional conduct of writing 178 page book to support this lies. That is an extra ordinary accusation from a lay person to an ordain person. Do you have more evidences for your accusation that Ven. T. is being dishonest in this book?
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Re: New Book on Mindfulness by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Aug 13, 2012 4:10 pm

cittaanurakkho wrote:
Guys, read the book. An Introduction at least...


From the book's intro on the issue of quotation (p.11):
To give an accurate presentation of the common modern view, I quoted
passages from the writings of those who endorse it, particularly in Chapter Four
and Appendix Three. However, I have not identified the authors of these
quotations, for two reasons. First is that monks are instructed not to disparage
others when teaching the Dhamma (AN 5:159). In practice, this means not
identifying, in a public talk or public writings, the names of people who one feels
are misinterpreting what the Dhamma has to say. Second, my aim in quoting
these passages is to focus not on individuals but on the general features and
underlying misconceptions of the common view. I realize that leaving one’s
sources unnamed is not in line with modern practices, but I can state honestly
that I have tried to find passages that give the clearest and most responsible
expression of the common view so as to highlight its salient features. I hope that
you, the reader, will understand why I have handled these quotations in this
way.
But the fact of the matter that these quotes, from Goldstein, Ven Nyanaponika, Ven Henepola Gunaratana, are easily identifiable and are taken out of context, both immediate and broader contexts of what these teachers teach (or taught), and that does disparage them, and the out of context quotations are problematic.

You are essentially claimming that Ven. T. is dishonest based on the evidence that his quote is "cartoon version" or what the actual authors/books were teaching. If he is indeed dishonest, that is quite a breach of conduct. Particularly considering that the dishonesty entails an intentional conduct of writing 178 page book to support this lies. That is an extra ordinary accusation from a lay person to an ordain person. Do you have more evidences for your accusation that Ven. T. is being dishonest in this book?
It has already been shown by Mike here that Ven Thanissaro has taken out of context the quotes he used. The "bare attention" teachers being quoted here are far more sophisticated than how Ven Thanissaro is portraying them, and the criticisms are a bit broadly drawn. I suspect a fair amount of what Ven T is saying is directed at Ven Analayo's book, SATIPATTHANA, but given that Ven Analayo's book is a carefully done effort by scholar-monk of no small ability, I am not convinced by Ven Thanissaro's brushing aside approach.
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 tiltbillings » Mon Aug 13, 2012 4:11 pm

ancientbuddhism wrote:
richard_rca wrote:I think the danger with this book is that people will focus too much on what they perceive to be Than Geoff's attack on individual teachers just because we are able to trace exactly who said it in what publication with ease, maybe because many of us have a background in university academia where this sort of personal attacking back and forh is common, I dunno. I think that's why he doesn't quote their names, because it doesn't matter if he doesn't contextualize these statements perfectly, they are representative quotes of a mindfulness syncretism that has grown very big as a movement in the last few years, and to me not necessarily a treatise on the individual teachers' teachings.

Looking at my mum's fridge yesterday there was a clipping on so-called mindfulness from a so-called expert that says exactly the kinds of things about bare awareness that he's arguing against in the book, so to say that it's not a common position is also not true.

But if we're gonna keep discussing the indivdual teachers' differences or similarities, instead of saying that Than Geoff's dishonest and merely setting up a straw man, please supply some quotes where this is shown. I don't feel that was done at all in the earlier posts.


Vipassanā has morphed into a pop-cultural syncretism going further back than just a few years. But leaving that and my own disagreements over Ṭhānissaro’s representation of Dhamma aside. ...
There Is certainly is a basis for criticism there, but tar the whole movement based upon the fluffy-bunny approach taken by some?
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 Dmytro » Mon Aug 13, 2012 5:59 pm

Thank you, Richard, quite an interesting book.

Ven. Thanissaro, as always, presents an unexpected perspective on Buddha's teaching, with strong basis in meditative experience.

Even though in some cases I disagree with him, thanks to the careful Sutta references he makes, I can read the sources and enhance the understanding of the Teaching.

What also amazes me is Ven. Thanissaro's sincerity and compassion. He won't put up with the mispresentations of the Buddha's teaching he finds, so he straightforwardly addresses the issue. This takes a lot of courage and honesty.
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Re: New Book on Mindfulness by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Aug 13, 2012 7:20 pm

Hi cittaanurakkho,
cittaanurakkho wrote:
mikenz66 wrote:It would be highly inaccurate to describe any of the teachers that have been mentioned in this thread as teaching their students no more than "just watch what comes up".


I have read only a few pages of Ven. T. new book. So I search the whole book for "just watch what comes up" and found none.

I meant that as a summary, not a verbatim quote.
See the quotes I gave here: viewtopic.php?f=41&t=13538&start=20#p201464
and read the rest of Chapter 4.

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

Postby gavesako » Mon Aug 13, 2012 7:24 pm

Dmytro wrote:Thank you, Richard, quite an interesting book.

Ven. Thanissaro, as always, presents an unexpected perspective on Buddha's teaching, with strong basis in meditative experience.

Even though in some cases I disagree with him, thanks to the careful Sutta references he makes, I can read the sources and enhance the understanding of the Teaching.

What also amazes me is Ven. Thanissaro's sincerity and compassion. He won't put up with the mispresentations of the Buddha's teaching he finds, so he straightforwardly addresses the issue. This takes a lot of courage and honesty.


I agree but not sure about the "compassion" motivation: some people love proving others wrong and engaging in doctrinal combat.

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

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Aug 13, 2012 8:37 pm

Dmytro wrote:Thank you, Richard, quite an interesting book.

Ven. Thanissaro, as always, presents an unexpected perspective on Buddha's teaching, with strong basis in meditative experience.

Even though in some cases I disagree with him, thanks to the careful Sutta references he makes, I can read the sources and enhance the understanding of the Teaching.

What also amazes me is Ven. Thanissaro's sincerity and compassion. He won't put up with the mispresentations of the Buddha's teaching he finds, so he straightforwardly addresses the issue. This takes a lot of courage and honesty.
Ven Thanissaro is the sole arbiter of what are the Buddha's teachings?
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 mikenz66 » Mon Aug 13, 2012 8:57 pm

tiltbillings wrote:Ven Thanissaro is the sole arbiter of what are the Buddha's teachings?

Taking a more general view, this touches on what I find difficult about non-face-to-face teachings and discussions in general. Unlike my experiences with real-life teachers and spiritual friends, there is this undercurrent that there is One True Dhamma, and, dammit, we're going to prove we've got it.

I very much value that I have the opportunity to learn from the Buddha, the experience of the ancients, and the experience of a variety of modern teachers. I continue to read/listen to teachers such as Ven Thanissaro, because I value his experience and analysis. However, I tend to have more respect for the teachers who simply present their interpretation of the Dhamma, and end by apologising if they have misrepresented the Dhamma in any way (which is a very common approach among the teachers whom I have encountered).

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

Postby danieLion » Tue Aug 14, 2012 1:55 am

All,
I've "cleaned up" my posts here starting with this one:

viewtopic.php?f=41&t=13538#p201420

This does not mean I disapprove of the discussion; just the way I handled it.

Best,
Daniel
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Re: New Book on Mindfulness by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Postby Dan74 » Tue Aug 14, 2012 2:00 am

mikenz66 wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:Ven Thanissaro is the sole arbiter of what are the Buddha's teachings?

Taking a more general view, this touches on what I find difficult about non-face-to-face teachings and discussions in general. Unlike my experiences with real-life teachers and spiritual friends, there is this undercurrent that there is One True Dhamma, and, dammit, we're going to prove we've got it.

I very much value that I have the opportunity to learn from the Buddha, the experience of the ancients, and the experience of a variety of modern teachers. I continue to read/listen to teachers such as Ven Thanissaro, because I value his experience and analysis. However, I tend to have more respect for the teachers who simply present their interpretation of the Dhamma, and end by apologising if they have misrepresented the Dhamma in any way (which is a very common approach among the teachers whom I have encountered).

:anjali:
Mike


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Re: New Book on Mindfulness by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Postby cittaanurakkho » Tue Aug 14, 2012 3:09 am

tiltbillings wrote:
cittaanurakkho wrote:
Guys, read the book. An Introduction at least...


Tilt,
I think you have misassigned the above quote to me.
I quoted but did not write the above line, it was piotr post.

tiltbillings wrote:It has already been shown by Mike here that Ven Thanissaro has taken out of context the quotes he used. The "bare attention" teachers being quoted here are far more sophisticated than how Ven Thanissaro is portraying them, and the criticisms are a bit broadly drawn. I suspect a fair amount of what Ven T is saying is directed at Ven Analayo's book, SATIPATTHANA, but given that Ven Analayo's book is a carefully done effort by scholar-monk of no small ability, I am not convinced by Ven Thanissaro's brushing aside approach.


Thanks for the clarification.
In this case, I will continue to assume the honesty of Ven. T, read the book, and find out for myself what he is getting at.
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Re: New Book on Mindfulness by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Aug 14, 2012 4:24 am

Greetings,

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:Second, my aim in quoting these passages is to focus not on individuals but on the general features and
underlying misconceptions of the common view. I realize that leaving one’s sources unnamed is not in line with modern practices, but I can state honestly that I have tried to find passages that give the clearest and most responsible expression of the common view so as to highlight its salient features. I hope that you, the reader, will understand why I have handled these quotations in this way.

In reading this, it seems that one could take Thanissaro Bhikkhu at face value. Alternatively, one could read the book through a lens of "attack" and "defend".

Given that, as Frankie Goes To Hollywood pointed out back in the early 80's, "When two tribes go to war, a point is all that you can score", there's probably more practical value for the reader in accepting Thanissaro Bhikkhus terms of engagement.

Either that or simply put the book down if those terms of engagement are unacceptable to the reader. No one is forcing anyone to read anything, after all, and he is not charging you anything for it.

To read beyond that Introduction simply to complain that it's not how we would have done it, that we demand scholastic citations, that we take offence to certain perceived caricatures, or that we would prefer otherwise in terms of a book on mindfulness seems like an exercise in futility, completely devoid of utility and metta.

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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Re: New Book on Mindfulness by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Aug 14, 2012 5:07 am

retrofuturist wrote:To read beyond that Introduction simply to complain that it's not how we would have done it, that we demand scholastic citations, that we take offence to certain perceived caricatures, or that we would prefer otherwise in terms of a book on mindfulness seems like an exercise in futility, completely devoid of utility and metta.
Thank gawd that does not fit what i have done.

I have learned a very long time ago there is considerable value and things to learn in reading well done, carefully considered critiques of the school of thought that one might hold to, which is why I took the time to read through what Ven Thanissaro had to say. As an expostion of his particular take on meditation it is interesting, but as a critique of the vipassana school, it is neither well done, nor carefully considered, and if anything, it could be sadly and unnecessarily destructive of one's confidence in one's practice. And what is the point of that?
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 Anagarika » Tue Aug 14, 2012 5:07 am

Ajahn Geoff is a serious scholar, and as I mentioned in another post, I've visited with him, and understood that he is friendly, generous and very caring, but he is also a very serious man. One of the people at Wat Metta mentioned to me that Ajahn Geoff had written on the subject of dana, and was seen as critical of some institutions that charged big fees for seminars and the like. Turns out, some of these seminar sponsors did not invite him back to speak, perhaps offended that Ajahn Geoff took a shot at their placing profits before Dhamma. The point being that Ven. Thanissaro is a man of deep principle, and you're not likely to get much of a soft shoe dance from him when discussing Dhamma. I for one, am glad that he is such a vigorous and vibrant force, as we need scholars like him to set the bar. I also happened to disagree with his brief that he published in support of the Thai Sangha vs. the Ajahn Brahm ordination of Bhikkhunis. It took some courage to write the brief that he did, and while I opposed his position, and support that taken by Bhikkhu Bodhi on that issue, the point I'm trying to make is that I'm glad that Ajahn Geoff has the gumption to weigh in on difficult issues without worrying that he will offend some folks.

To make his point, he must have felt that the segments quoted needed to be "called on the carpet," without naming any of the perceived offenders. I imagine he has sat for many months watching the erosion of the vipassana approach to practice taking place via the so=called 'mindfulness movement', and felt the need to fire away.

Agree with him or not, he keeps the Dhamma fires burning.
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Re: New Book on Mindfulness by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Aug 14, 2012 5:24 am

BuddhaSoup wrote:To make his point, he must have felt that the segments quoted needed to be "called on the carpet," without naming any of the perceived offenders. I imagine he has sat for many months watching the erosion of the vipassana approach to practice taking place via the so=called 'mindfulness movement', and felt the need to fire away.
While there are things one might want to criticize in the "mindfulness movement," it would seem that his firing away was rather indiscriminate.

Also, keep in mind that Joseph Goldstein, the late Ven Nyanaponika, and Bhante G, who Ven Thanissaro quoted, are also serious, highly learned practitioners, and I am sure they are no less devoted to the Dhamma than Ven Thanissaro. Ven Thanissaro’s approach strikes me as bit unskillful.
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 mikenz66 » Tue Aug 14, 2012 5:46 am

Hi Retro,
retrofuturist wrote:To read beyond that Introduction simply to complain that it's not how we would have done it, that we demand scholastic citations, that we take offence to certain perceived caricatures, or that we would prefer otherwise in terms of a book on mindfulness seems like an exercise in futility, completely devoid of utility and metta.

How about reading what he said and pointing out statements that appear to be inaccurate? That's seems like a quite normal thing to do on a Forum such as this.

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

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Aug 14, 2012 5:52 am

Greetings Mike,

mikenz66 wrote:How about reading what he said and pointing out statements that appear to be inaccurate? That's seems like a quite normal thing to do on a Forum such as this.

Sad if relentless nitpicking, negativity and criticism is now a "normal thing to do on a Forum such as this".

I thought exploring and furthering our knowledge of the Dhamma would have been a higher priority.

Maybe times have changed...

:shrug:

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


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)
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Re: New Book on Mindfulness by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Aug 14, 2012 6:00 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Mike,

mikenz66 wrote:How about reading what he said and pointing out statements that appear to be inaccurate? That's seems like a quite normal thing to do on a Forum such as this.

Sad if relentless nitpicking, negativity and criticism is now a "normal thing to do on a Forum such as this".
Well, it is a good thing there has not been "relentless nitpicking, negativity and criticism," but I could see how it could be a problem.

I thought exploring and furthering our knowledge of the Dhamma would have been a higher priority.
One would think so, which is why I posted Ven Bodhi's discussion of bare attention viewtopic.php?f=41&t=13538&start=20#p201569 as a place to start a discussion, but, alas, no takers.
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 » Tue Aug 14, 2012 6:07 am

Dear Retro, Tilt, & Mike,
This is making me sad, like when my parents would fight. I'm still young in the Dhamma compared to you guys, and look up to all three of you, so could you all take a breather please?
Best,
Daniel
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