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Bhikkhu Thanissaro and other scholars on Mahasi - Dhamma Wheel

Bhikkhu Thanissaro and other scholars on Mahasi

On the cultivation of insight/wisdom
Christopherxx
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Bhikkhu Thanissaro and other scholars on Mahasi

Postby Christopherxx » Wed Aug 22, 2012 10:58 pm

Hi there,

I have heard that some scholars do not recognize the Mahasi method as being in accordance with the sutta.

I am wondering if anyone knows Bhikkhu Thanissaro position on this (I respect his work) and other scholars.

This thread is in no way meant to be an attack on Mahasi. Simply an examination of scholar opinions on his method and how it likens to the sutta in which it is derived.

Thank you in advance for taking your time to post.

Metta wishes!

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marc108
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Re: Bhikkhu Thanissaro and other scholars on Mahasi

Postby marc108 » Wed Aug 22, 2012 11:19 pm

"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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mikenz66
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Re: Bhikkhu Thanissaro and other scholars on Mahasi

Postby mikenz66 » Thu Aug 23, 2012 2:42 am

Ven T's approach, as explained in his talks, is not so different from Mahasi, or other approaches. I.e. have a "primary object" (breath, motion of feet, etc) and also pay attention to what comes up.
See my comments here: http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.ph ... 80#p174339

Like the meditation instructions from any teacher, Ven Mahasi, Ven Thanissaro, the ancient teachers whose experience is preserved in the commentaries, ..., teach "tricks", like noting (or counting breaths in some cases) that are not in the suttas. However, since no-one claims those techniques have any dhammic significance, whether or not they in the suttas is hardly an issue. Noting is simply a way of keeping ones attention focussed clearly on the phenomena that are arising, and cutting down on mental "commentary" that otherwise tends to inflict the beginning meditator.

:anjali:
Mike

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retrofuturist
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Re: Bhikkhu Thanissaro and other scholars on Mahasi

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Aug 23, 2012 3:38 am

Greetings Christopher,

Your question and Mike's comment about "tricks" brings to mind the following that I read last week, and whilst it doesn't reference sutta, it gives some potential criteria etc.

From "Awareness Alone Is Not Enough: Questions & Answers with Ashin Tejaniya"
http://sayadawutejaniya.org/wp-content/ ... Enough.pdf
--------------------------------

LABELLING

Yogi: I have been trying to watch the mind, but labelling
automatically comes in because I used labelling for over two
months before coming here.

SUT: But the mind is labelling!

Yogi: Yes, but I keep using words in my mind like ‘thinking’.....

SUT: How does it feel when you see such labels come up in
the mind?

Yogi: It’s a little bit distracting. I try to push the labelling
aside...

SUT: NO, NO, don’t try to push it aside!! Just recognize
that the mind is labelling. You cannot stop a habit abruptly.
If you try to stop it forcefully, there will be a conflict.

Yogi: What’s the difference between labelling and just
observing or noticing? In either case you recognize what is
happening. What’s wrong with using words?

SUT: Labelling gives the mind a lot of work to do and
therefore it has less time to investigate. Phenomena are
happening at an incredibly fast rate, and labelling them will
therefore also be late, i.e. you are naming the experience
long after it happened.

Yogi: So just feel the emotion as opposed to labelling it?

SUT: Yes, by being aware of what is going on continuously.
When we observe something, the mind naturally comments
on what is going on. There is nothing wrong with that.
Mechanically labelling ‘fear, fear, fear’ is very different. That
is not only tiring and but it also prevents you from seeing the
details of your experience. It is unnecessary. But you cannot
stop the natural comments the mind makes when it recognizes
something.
Mechanical labelling weakens both awareness and
understanding of the mental processes. We don’t really need
labelling to explain anything to ourselves; we only need labels
to explain things to other people. When we use labelling, the
mind will get involved with all the meanings and associations
connected to that label. By using labelling we also target a
particular aspect of our experience and therefore cannot
see the whole picture.

--------------------------------

Metta,
Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

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tiltbillings
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Re: Bhikkhu Thanissaro and other scholars on Mahasi

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Aug 23, 2012 3:40 am


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mikenz66
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Re: Bhikkhu Thanissaro and other scholars on Mahasi

Postby mikenz66 » Thu Aug 23, 2012 4:06 am


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retrofuturist
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Re: Bhikkhu Thanissaro and other scholars on Mahasi

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Aug 23, 2012 4:15 am

"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

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mikenz66
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Re: Bhikkhu Thanissaro and other scholars on Mahasi

Postby mikenz66 » Thu Aug 23, 2012 4:20 am

Well, I guess the topic was Ven Mahasi. I think that fixating on the labelling aspect would be analogous to saying that Thanissaro Bhikkhu's entire approach is based on breath manipulation or Ajahn Chahs' on [insert random Ajahn Chah one-liner here].

:anjali:
Mike

Christopherxx
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Re: Bhikkhu Thanissaro and other scholars on Mahasi

Postby Christopherxx » Sat Aug 25, 2012 10:51 pm

Thanks guys,

I think you've pretty much hit it right ont he head (tips and tricks) rather than it being a dogmatic issue or not.

:)

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Kamran
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Re: Bhikkhu Thanissaro and other scholars on Mahasi

Postby Kamran » Sat Aug 25, 2012 11:51 pm

I think its in his "Not Self" series of talks someone asks him about the Mahasi method and Thanissaro simply replied that he was not trained in that method, so he can't answer questions about it.
"Silence gives answers"

Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi

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badscooter
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Re: Bhikkhu Thanissaro and other scholars on Mahasi

Postby badscooter » Sun Aug 26, 2012 12:03 am

Has Thanissaro ever commented on Mahasi Sayadaw? He has a few of his writings on his website http://www.accesstoinsight.org. I would find it odd that he would have his publications on his site if he didn't hold the Ven Mahasi in some kind of honorable regard, and respect his teachings in some matter. I could be wrong. Has anybody found anything showing Thanissaro's view on or of Ven Mahasi? I couldn't find any.
"whatever one frequently thinks and ponders upon will be the inclination of one's mind"

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mikenz66
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Re: Bhikkhu Thanissaro and other scholars on Mahasi

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Aug 26, 2012 6:54 am

Hi Billy,

"Access to Insight" isn't Ven Thanissaro's website, it is John Bullitt's website:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/faq.html#whatis
Of course, it does have a lot of Ven Thanissaro's material, but also a lot of BPS and other material.

:anjali:
Mike

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badscooter
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Re: Bhikkhu Thanissaro and other scholars on Mahasi

Postby badscooter » Sun Aug 26, 2012 12:37 pm

"whatever one frequently thinks and ponders upon will be the inclination of one's mind"

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fivebells
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Re: Bhikkhu Thanissaro and other scholars on Mahasi

Postby fivebells » Tue Mar 04, 2014 12:54 am

Interesting thread. Since I learned about Mahasi via Daniel Ingram's book, I thought noting the breath for jhana and the three characteristics for insight was all there is to it. Thanissaro is explicitly critical of that kind of one-size-fits-all approach to meditation, e.g., .

I'll have to take a look at In This Very Life some time.

SarathW
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Re: Bhikkhu Thanissaro and other scholars on Mahasi

Postby SarathW » Tue Mar 04, 2014 1:46 am

Any method is a good method!

I like the simplicity of Webu Sayadow, Mahasi etc. It is great for the beginner.

viewtopic.php?f=41&t=650

and the complexity of Ven. Thannisaro. It is great for the advanced.

viewtopic.php?f=41&t=20136
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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Anagarika
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Re: Bhikkhu Thanissaro and other scholars on Mahasi

Postby Anagarika » Tue Mar 04, 2014 2:15 am

My sense is that Ajahn Geoff is very much is the sutta jhanas corner, and while I have never read or heard of him commenting on the Burmese methods, I would surmise that he's not likely to be supportive of a method that is not jhana founded, ie founded on samatha and vipassana as core elements of jhana.

I was interested in the topic from the OP and found this: http://youtu.be/m3tUCtwmVGY Ven. Sujato's take on Mahasi method, which he both praises and distinguishes.

With the above, I'm not making any judgments...I'm meditation lazy some weeks, and struggle not only to practice steadily but to understand competently the practice as my teachers recommend. Everyone's mileage will vary with respect to their chosen meditation path.

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mikenz66
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Re: Bhikkhu Thanissaro and other scholars on Mahasi

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Mar 04, 2014 5:11 am


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Anagarika
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Re: Bhikkhu Thanissaro and other scholars on Mahasi

Postby Anagarika » Tue Mar 04, 2014 12:38 pm


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waterchan
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Re: Bhikkhu Thanissaro and other scholars on Mahasi

Postby waterchan » Tue Mar 04, 2014 1:20 pm

quidquid Latine dictum sit altum videtur
(Anything in Latin sounds profound.)

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tiltbillings
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Re: Bhikkhu Thanissaro and other scholars on Mahasi

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Mar 04, 2014 2:27 pm



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