The Quotable Thanissaro

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Sat Mar 08, 2014 9:26 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:Every time you take a choice - at home, at work, at play - you are exercising your power in the on-going fashioning of the world. At the same time, this principle allows you to measure yourself in terms that are entirely under your control: your intentional actions in the present moment. In other words, they don't force you to measure yourself in terms of your looks, strength, brains, financial prowess, or any other criteria that depend less on your present karma than they do on karma from the past. Also, they don't play on feelings of guilt or force you to bemoan your past lapses. Instead, they focus your attention on the ever-present possibility of living up to your standards in the here and now.
From: The Healing Power of the Precepts by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Mon Mar 10, 2014 8:58 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:If you don't make it all the way to the Deathless in this lifetime, your quest for skillfulness insures that your next lifetime will keep heading in that direction. You build up a momentum.

....Try to turn your life from a stick thrown up into the air into an arrow flying straight in a particular direction, toward more and more skillfulness. Ultimately, someday, whether in this lifetime or the next, that arrow will reach its target — but only if you focus on this issue of skillfulness right here and right now. And keep it right here right now, every right here and right now. That's what builds up the momentum. That's what gives direction and meaning to life.
From: Anger by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby Anagarika » Mon Mar 10, 2014 8:14 pm

dhammapal wrote:
Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:Every time you take a choice - at home, at work, at play - you are exercising your power in the on-going fashioning of the world. At the same time, this principle allows you to measure yourself in terms that are entirely under your control: your intentional actions in the present moment. In other words, they don't force you to measure yourself in terms of your looks, strength, brains, financial prowess, or any other criteria that depend less on your present karma than they do on karma from the past. Also, they don't play on feelings of guilt or force you to bemoan your past lapses. Instead, they focus your attention on the ever-present possibility of living up to your standards in the here and now.
From: The Healing Power of the Precepts by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

With metta / dhammapal.


Among his many thoughtful articles and talks, this one really resonated with me. I have had the good fortune to spend time at Wat Metta. Ajahn Geoff is a fairly strict abbot, but there also seems to be so very much the kalyana mitta aspect to his personality: in a goodhearted way, he really wants to see people succeed in this Path. He's the kind of mentor and friend that one needs most, that isn't afraid to tell you the truth, but does so with a wise and kind heart. From the same text:

"Now, many people find it cold comfort to join such an abstract group, especially when they have not yet met any noble ones in person. It's hard to be good-hearted and generous when the society immediately around you openly laughs at those qualities and values such things as sexual prowess or predatory business skills instead. This is where Buddhist communities can come in. It would be very useful if Buddhist groups would openly part ways with the prevailing amoral tenor of our culture and let it be known in a kindly way that they value goodheartedness and restraint among their members. In doing so, they would provide a healthy environment for the full-scale adoption of the Buddha's course of therapy: the practice of concentration and discernment in a life of virtuous action."
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby Kasina » Tue Mar 11, 2014 4:43 am

BuddhaSoup wrote:
dhammapal wrote:
Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:Every time you take a choice - at home, at work, at play - you are exercising your power in the on-going fashioning of the world. At the same time, this principle allows you to measure yourself in terms that are entirely under your control: your intentional actions in the present moment. In other words, they don't force you to measure yourself in terms of your looks, strength, brains, financial prowess, or any other criteria that depend less on your present karma than they do on karma from the past. Also, they don't play on feelings of guilt or force you to bemoan your past lapses. Instead, they focus your attention on the ever-present possibility of living up to your standards in the here and now.
From: The Healing Power of the Precepts by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

With metta / dhammapal.


Among his many thoughtful articles and talks, this one really resonated with me. I have had the good fortune to spend time at Wat Metta. Ajahn Geoff is a fairly strict abbot, but there also seems to be so very much the kalyana mitta aspect to his personality: in a goodhearted way, he really wants to see people succeed in this Path. He's the kind of mentor and friend that one needs most, that isn't afraid to tell you the truth, but does so with a wise and kind heart. From the same text:

"Now, many people find it cold comfort to join such an abstract group, especially when they have not yet met any noble ones in person. It's hard to be good-hearted and generous when the society immediately around you openly laughs at those qualities and values such things as sexual prowess or predatory business skills instead. This is where Buddhist communities can come in. It would be very useful if Buddhist groups would openly part ways with the prevailing amoral tenor of our culture and let it be known in a kindly way that they value goodheartedness and restraint among their members. In doing so, they would provide a healthy environment for the full-scale adoption of the Buddha's course of therapy: the practice of concentration and discernment in a life of virtuous action."


Brilliant, as always...

:anjali:
"This world completely lacks essence;
It trembles in all directions.
I longed to find myself a place
Unscathed — but I could not see it."


Sn 4.15 PTS: Sn 935-951 "Attadanda Sutta: Arming Oneself"

“Pain and suffering are always inevitable for a large intelligence and a deep heart. The really great men must, I think, have great sadness on earth.”
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby Anagarika » Tue Mar 11, 2014 11:53 am

I found this definition, as well, that seems to apply well to Ven. Thanissaro, at least as I have come to experience his teaching and influence:

"In the first-century CE exegetic Vimuttimagga ("Path of Freedom"), Arahant Upatissa identifies the need to find a "good friend" or "pre-eminent friend" in order to develop "excellent concentration." The good friend should understand the Tipitaka, kamma, "beneficient worldly knowledge" and the Four Noble Truths. Citing AN 7.36, Upatissa says that a "good friend" should have the following seven qualities:

"Loveableness, esteemableness, venerableness, the ability to counsel well, patience (in listening), the ability to deliver deep discourses and the not applying oneself to useless ends."

This definition fits nicely. As I have mentioned before, my experience with Ven. Thanissaro includes seeing his strict supervision of his monks, his careful mentorship of the lay folk that come to Wat Metta, while at the same time, watching him sit on the floor with members of the San Diego Thai community to assemble, by hand, some calendars. I observed him sit with the men and women doing this hand work, with a broad smile on his face, speaking in Thai fully engaged, and seemingly opening the doors of his heart to these folk with whom he must feel such a connection. I recall being in the vihan to begin evening chanting, when one of his young monks sneezed loudly, and Ajahn Geoff, with a big smile, asked "was that a B flat?"
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby Kusala » Wed Mar 12, 2014 7:43 am

Thanks BuddhaSoup...

Noble Standards

The truths the Buddha taught about suffering, and its cause, its cessation, and the way to its cessation are called noble truths. And the question is, what's noble about them? They're motivated by a desire to put an end to suffering -- which on the one hand may seem pretty common. Everybody tries to suffer less. Whatever people do, skillful or unskillful, if you asked them why they were doing it, it would come down to the idea that they'd be happier, or there would be more pleasure and less suffering, less pain. So it's a common motivation all over the world.

What's noble about the noble truths is the motivation that they're working on takes that motivation and moves it in a noble direction. To begin with, the Buddha's standards for happiness are higher...I visited a Dhamma center recently when some of the students were complaining that their teachers were constantly pulling the Buddha down to their level. The teachers were talking about how the reports of the knowledges the Buddha gained on the night of his awakening don't sound really possible. Maybe it was just a case of lucid dreaming. These teachers were trying to tear the Buddha down, to their level. And that really puts an end to the path right there. It closes the mind to the idea that maybe there are things the human mind that are more than we can have anticipated...


http://www.dhammatalks.org/Archive/Writ ... ndards.pdf
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Homage to the Buddha
Thus indeed, is that Blessed One: He is the Holy One, fully enlightened, endowed with clear vision and virtuous conduct, sublime, the Knower of the worlds, the incomparable leader of men to be tamed, the teacher of gods and men, enlightened and blessed.

Homage to the Teachings
The Dhamma of the Blessed One is perfectly expounded; to be seen here and now; not delayed in
time; inviting one to come and see; onward leading (to Nibbana); to be known by the wise, each for himself.
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Sun Mar 16, 2014 8:26 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:It’s not hard to see why Right Speech, Right Action and Right Livelihood would be required for mindfulness to become right: If you engage in harmful behavior, you’ll want to forget the harm you have done. This forgetfulness puts barriers in your memory that are sure to weaken mindfulness. A bad conscience can also weaken alertness, as you develop a tendency not to want to look carefully into your motivations for acting (AN 3:69). This is why mindfulness can be established rightly only in dependence on virtuous behavior. At the same time, a lack of virtue makes it difficult to gladden the mind, an important step in using mindfulness to develop right concentration.
From: Right Mindfulness: Memory and Ardency on the Buddhist Path by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Tue Mar 18, 2014 9:21 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:So the Buddha’s teaching on karma is one of the ways in which the Dhamma offers external protection: It emphasizes the importance of your present actions — providing for the possibility of “should be done” and “shouldn’t be done” — at the same time offering clear guidelines for figuring out, in any situation, where the shoulds and shouldn’ts lie. This is one of the ways in which the Buddha’s Dhamma offers external protection in all directions. It gives you tools to discern, regardless of time or place, which actions always lead to long-term suffering, which ones always lead to long-term happiness, and then lets you decide for yourself which path you want to follow.
http://www.dhammatalks.org/Archive/Writings/BeyondAllDirections_v130911.pdf
From: Beyond All Directions: Refuge in the Buddha, Dhamma & Sangha by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Thu Mar 20, 2014 3:25 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:For the Buddha, even taking things on reason is a type of faith. Just because something is reasonable doesn't guarantee that it's going to be true. But when something is reasonable, it's a lot easier to act on it and not feel torn up inside. He also asks that when you take something on faith, you have to remind yourself of how little you really do know. The assumptions you act on may seem the most reasonable, and so far in your experience they may have given the best results when you act on them, but the more clearly you realize that this doesn't constitute real knowledge, the more you're spurred to continue practicing until you really do know.
From: Kamma & Rebirth by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Thu Mar 20, 2014 3:32 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:If mindfulness is defined as alertness, there is no term in the satipatthana formula to account for the role of memory in the practice.... Remembering what to do and why you’re doing it is an important part of sticking with any practice. This point is illustrated, ironically, by a comment made by a teacher who holds to the definition of mindfulness as awareness of the present: that mindfulness is easy; it’s remembering to be mindful that’s hard. It would be strange if the Buddha did not account for one of the hardest parts of mindfulness practice in his instructions.
From: Right Mindfulness: Memory and Ardency on the Buddhist Path by Thanissaro Bhikkhu (178 page pdf)

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Thu Mar 20, 2014 3:35 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:The issues that you tend to find most fascinating or those that cause you the most trouble: Those are the issues you should focus on for the sake of insight, the insights that first lead to stronger concentration, and then lead to release.
....
No one can tell you what’s going to give rise to insight. There are all sorts of insight techniques out there, but they’re really just sophisticated forms of concentration. The actual insight has to come from seeing how your own mind works. And the best way to see it working is to put it through the laboratory experiment of getting it to settle down.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/thanissaro/eDhammaTalks_3.pdf
From: The Riddle Tree by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Thu Mar 20, 2014 8:33 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:We often think that vipassana means seeing things as they are, the idea being that there's something already out there — things as they are — and they're all covered over by our preconceived notions, our mental fabrications. What we've got to do is clear those fabrications away and that will leave just the pristine things as they are. But that's not really how insight works. That understanding actually gets in the way of insight's arising because the Buddha didn't say, "things as they are." He said, "things as they've come to be": how they've come into being. That's a process of fabrication. It's not the case that fabrications lie on top of pristine things as they are. Fabrication is how those things have come into being in the first place.
From: Things as They've Come to Be by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Sat Mar 22, 2014 9:19 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:The Buddha taught mindfulness of death to encourage heedfulness, a sense that a great deal needs to be done in training the mind, and that not much time remains to do it. Thus mindfulness of death fosters an appreciation of what human life offers the opportunity to do. What is valuable about life is not the pleasures that can be experienced, but the skillful mental qualities that can be developed.
From: A Meditator's Tools: A Study Guide on the Ten Recollections by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Sun Mar 23, 2014 11:03 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:This is the right effort that really constitutes the middle way: in other words, appropriate effort, appropriate for whatever the occasion, whatever the defilement coming up in the present, and whatever your state of mind. Sometimes this requires very delicate work, very refined, very easy. Sometimes it’s hard and takes a lot of effort. You have to sit through a good amount of pain and struggle over some of your defilements. The struggle comes from the fact that the defilements aren’t all obviously bad. They have their appealing side. They have their hooks. They’re sticky, like Velcro. So there’s going to be a struggle, back-and-forth. Learn how to accept that as well.
http://www.dhammatalks.org/Archive/Writings/meditations6_v140119.pdf
From: Accepting the Buddha’s Standards by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Mon Mar 24, 2014 8:53 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:A friend of mine once went to Japan to study pottery with one of the living national treasures they have over there. At the beginning of her stay she’d often get frustrated because she’d send her pots into the kiln every evening, and the next morning find that many of them had come out broken or unevenly burnt, whereas her teacher’s pots seemed to come out perfectly every time, every time. Then one morning she came into the studio and found him sitting in the middle of the kiln: Many of his pots from the previous night’s batch had exploded in the kiln, but he wasn’t upset. He was simply sitting there trying to figure out why. That’s what makes the difference between a person who really does develop a skill and a person who can’t quite make it: the ability not to get upset by your mistakes but simply to look at them as learning experiences. If you have that much respect for yourself, that much respect for the principle of cause and effect, you find it easier and easier to be patient.
From: Respect, Confidence & Patience by Thanissaro Bhikkhu (pdf file)
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Mon Mar 24, 2014 11:40 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:You need some sense of the past. You have to be observant and remember what worked and didn't work in the past, and then see how those lessons apply to the present moment. Sometimes you have to re-learn a lesson or adjust a past lesson, because what seemed to work in the past may not be working this time. That simply means you have to be even more observant of what's going on. It doesn't mean you totally throw out the past. It means you take your knowledge and adjust it, you make it more refined. And this is how the practice develops, as you build on your past mistakes — and on your past successes as well.
From: One Step at a Time by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Tue Mar 25, 2014 2:31 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:We often think of discernment as trying to clone our minds into seeing things the way the Buddha tells us to see them. But that ends up just adding one more layer of conjecture to our ignorance. When he tells us to look for the inconstancy and the stress in things, he's not telling us to come to the conclusion that they're inconstant and stressful. He's telling us how to develop sensitivity: Can you sense really refined levels of inconstancy? Can you sense really refined levels of stress? What happens when you do?
From: Adolescent Practice by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Tue Mar 25, 2014 6:01 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:The four noble truths are best understood, not as beliefs, but as categories of experience. They offer an alternative to the ordinary way we categorize what we can know and describe, in terms of me/not me, and being/not being. These ordinary categories create trouble, for the attempt to maintain full being for one's sense of "me" is a stressful effort doomed to failure, in that all of the components of that "me" are inconstant, stressful, and thus not worthy of identifying as "me" or "mine."

To counter this problem, the four noble truths drop ideas of me/not me, and being/not being, and replace them with two sets of variables: cause and effect, skillful and unskillful. In other words, there is the truth of stress and suffering (unskillful effect), the truth of the origination of stress (unskillful cause), the truth of the cessation of stress (skillful effect), and the truth of the path to the cessation of stress (skillful cause). Each of these truths entails a duty: stress is to be comprehended, the origination of stress abandoned, the cessation of stress realized, and the path to the cessation of stress developed. When all of these duties have been fully performed, the mind gains total release.
....
Thus the study of the four noble truths is aimed first at understanding these four categories, and then at applying them to experience so that one may act properly toward each of the categories and thus attain the highest, most total happiness possible.
From: The Four Noble Truths: A Study Guide by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Fri Mar 28, 2014 10:44 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:The breath is so close to the mind, and yet for most of us it’s uncharted territory. It’s like those old maps they had back in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. They’d have a cartoon version of the coastline of North America and a big, blank, white space right in the middle, with a little inscription that said, “Here be tygers,” “Here be wilde beasts,” or whatever. But it’s pretty much unknown territory, unknown land, even though it’s right next to us.

There’s nothing closer to the mind than the breath, yet our focus is always on something a bit farther away. We’ve actually taught ourselves to ignore the breath so that we can pay attention to other things. Yet the message of meditation is that it’s actually much more important to be here with the breath, because it puts you in touch with things that really are important in life.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/thanissaro/eDhammaTalks_1.pdf
From: Sensitize Yourself by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Fri Mar 28, 2014 10:45 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:Ordinarily we don't like to think in terms of success in meditation. There's so much pressure to succeed in the material area that we don't want to hear about standards for success in the area of the Dhamma. But if you're serious about putting an end to suffering, the issue of success is something you can't avoid. When you approach the meditation skillfully, you get results. Your efforts have succeeded. They're actually accomplished something. That's the whole point.
From: Basics by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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