The Quotable Thanissaro

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Fri Mar 28, 2014 10:47 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:So don't think that the elementary practices are just for people on an elementary level. They're for everybody. That's how everybody gets started and everybody keeps going. You build on them. You don't abandon them. You build on them. You include more and more subtle levels. But the basic levels stay there as well, until, as the texts say, generosity is no longer something you do for your own sake or for the sake of other people. It becomes just a natural expression of the mind. All the steps of the practice become a natural expression of the mind once it's fully trained.
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Wed Apr 02, 2014 1:07 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:All across the board, the ones who excel at their skills — whether as musicians, sportsmen, or craftsmen — are the ones who find that the skill captures their imagination. That's why the effort put into the skill is no big deal for them. They get so absorbed that the effort becomes enjoyable. They like thinking about it, they like figuring out the problems they face, and sometimes detecting problems that other people might not even notice. Then they try working out solutions. These are the kind of people who do well.
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Fri Apr 04, 2014 6:05 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:You’ve got to develop the attitude of a craftsperson. You’re sitting at your bench, you’re working on something, and you just realized that you planed the wood a little bit too deeply. So what do you do? Do you throw the wood away? That would be a waste. Do you start yelling at yourself? That doesn’t accomplish anything. You figure out how to correct for the mistake. And then you move on. Perhaps it’s because we have so few physical skills nowadays that we haven’t developed this faculty of judging a work in progress. But here is your opportunity to do it. Remember the basic principles. You’re judging the actions, not yourself as a person. And the purpose of the judgment is so you can apply what you’ve learned the next time around.
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Sat Apr 05, 2014 2:09 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:But by taking refuge in the Dhamma we're taking refuge in the conviction that developing the mind will cover all contingencies. And because the practice of virtue, concentration, and discernment — all the seeds for happiness — lie right here, that simplifies matters. It also allows us to give our full energy to the things that matter most.

So even if from the outside it may look as if the life of practicing the Dhamma has a lot of hardships, a lot of renunciation, a lot of doing without, it's not an impoverished life. You find that real wealth develops inside.
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby Kusala » Sat Apr 05, 2014 7:20 am

dhammapal wrote:
Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:But by taking refuge in the Dhamma we're taking refuge in the conviction that developing the mind will cover all contingencies. And because the practice of virtue, concentration, and discernment — all the seeds for happiness — lie right here, that simplifies matters. It also allows us to give our full energy to the things that matter most.

So even if from the outside it may look as if the life of practicing the Dhamma has a lot of hardships, a lot of renunciation, a lot of doing without, it's not an impoverished life. You find that real wealth develops inside.
From: Simplify by Thanissaro Bhikkhu


Thanks, dhammapal. It reminds me of a quote from Leonardo da Vinci, "Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication."
Image

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 » Mon Apr 07, 2014 10:53 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:I was asked to give a talk on the topic of whether it really is necessary to know anything about what the Buddha said if you’re going to meditate. If you think of mindfulness simply as being aware, there’s not that much that you would need to study. Your awareness is right here, it’s happening all the time, so what else do you need to know? But when you realize that mindfulness means keeping something in mind, you realize that you need to study some to know what things are the right things to keep in mind while you practice.
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Mon Apr 07, 2014 12:13 pm

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:Patience doesn’t mean that you just sit there and don’t do anything. It means that you’re willing to be in this over the long haul. If something is not working in the mind, you keep trying various approaches. You don’t get discouraged. You don’t give up.
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Tue Apr 08, 2014 7:18 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:A useful perception to hold in mind is that you're like a wildlife observer. You can't make a date with the wildlife to come by a particular place at a particular time. You have to go to a place where the wildlife tends to pass by — such as a watering hole — and then sit there: very alert, so that you can hear them coming, but also very still, so that you don't scare them away. The breath in the present moment is the mind's watering hole — where the movements of the mind most clearly show themselves — so you're at the right spot. Now all you have to do is learn how to master the skill of staying both still and alert.
From: With Each & Every Breath: A Guide to Meditation by Thanissaro Bhikkhu (135 page pdf)
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Wed Apr 09, 2014 3:44 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:When I was staying in Thailand with Ajaan Fuang, I’d feel frustrated when he’d say, “Use your pañña.” That’s the Pali and Thai word for discernment. That was back in the days when the only translation I knew for pañña was wisdom, and I kept thinking, “How am I going to use my wisdom when I don’t have any?” But he was talking about a faculty we all have. We all have discernment to one extent or another, and you have to put it to use all the time while you’re practicing. You put it to use when you’re observing the precepts, you put it to use when you’re practicing concentration.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/thanissaro/eDhammaTalks_1.pdf
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Fri Apr 11, 2014 8:45 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:Mistakes are normal.
It’s through mistakes that you learn. The people who understand meditation best aren’t the ones for whom everything goes smoothly. They’re the ones who make mistakes and then figure out how not to make them again. So view each mistake as an opportunity to figure things out. Don’t let it get you down. In fact, if you’re going to take pride in anything, take pride in your willingness to notice and learn from mistakes.
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Fri Apr 11, 2014 9:21 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:The fully awakened mind is unfathomable like the sea. It’s so deep you can’t measure it, so big you can’t measure it. Even though this technically applies to arahantship, you can hold that perception in mind: that you have a property of awareness larger than everything it knows, that goes deeper than everything it knows. It can encompass everything. Hold that image in mind. And that awareness keeps on knowing regardless of whether the body feels strong, weak, sick, whatever. Ajaan Maha Boowa even advises, at the moment you’re about to die and there’s pain in the body, that you try to get in touch with that sense of awareness and ask yourself: “Which is going to disappear first, the pain or the awareness?” The pain is going to go first. As long as you can keep that perception in mind, it gives you the strength to deal with a lot of things that otherwise you couldn’t bear. You’re less likely to be overwhelmed.
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Sun Apr 13, 2014 9:58 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:As Ajaan Fuang told me, "Practicing the Dhamma is not just being good at sitting with your eyes closed. It involves learning how to be skillful in everything you do." This attitude that wants to be skillful: That's what's going to see you through lots of different problems. If you don't give a damn about things outside, your mind is going to be a "don't-give-a-damn" kind of mind inside as well. It gets apathetic, careless.

But if you make up your mind that whatever chore falls to you, you're going to try to do it skillfully, then you.... can develop your mind in any situation.
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Mon Apr 14, 2014 5:56 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:Dependent co-arising is not just a map about abstractions; it’s actually a map of your feeding frenzy. And even though the map has lots of factors that are all entangled, it does make one clear and simple point: When contact hits, it’s not just making a mark on a blank slate or a passive mirror. The mind is already primed to go looking for food even before contact happens; when we encounter contact, our main question is whether we can eat it. This is why we have to meditate: The causes for suffering are inside. And this is why the Buddha has us focus attention on our intentions, perceptions, and views, because as long as we’re ignorant of these things, that ignorance keeps driving our feeding frenzy.
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Mon Apr 14, 2014 6:16 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:So many people accuse the Buddha of being pessimistic: He starts his teachings with pain. And yet when you first sit and meditate, what do you find after the first five or ten minutes? Pain. You can't avoid it. Or when people just can't sit by themselves, can't spend a whole day by themselves without busying themselves with this, that, or the other thing, what's the problem? It's mental pain, mental discomfort. These are things we live with all the time, and yet we think somehow that if people point them out, they're being pessimistic. Of course, the Buddha's purpose in pointing out pain and suffering wasn't just to stop right there, pointing them out and saying, "Isn't that horrible." He says, "Look. There's a solution." In fact, his approach to pain is extremely optimistic: Human beings can put an end to suffering, in this lifetime, through their own efforts.

So when we sit here, we have to anticipate that there will be pain in sitting still. The reason we normally move around is because we encounter pain in a particular posture, so we change a little bit to get away from it. The Buddha's approach isn't to try to run away from it that way. He says, "Look into it."
.....
.....
This is why, when we start meditating, the Buddha doesn't have us focus immediately on the pain. He says to focus on the breath instead, because whatever pain is associated with the breath - and it tends to be subtle, but it is there - is something you can manage, something you can deal with. He gives you the breath as your tool for dealing with the pain. So when you're aware of pain, don't yet let your primary focus be on the pain. Keep your focus on the breath. In other words, get used to being acquainted with the breath first, because that's the person who'll introduce you to pain properly. It's like meeting any important person: You first have to get to know certain well-connected friends who can introduce you to that person. And that's the way it is with pain: You have to know the breath first, for it's your well-connected friend.
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Tue Apr 15, 2014 10:19 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:So the Buddha is teaching you what to do when you suffer so that you’re no longer bewildered and you don’t have to continue suffering. And in that way, his teaching is a gift. As with any gift, when you receive it, you want to make good use of it. You don’t want to just throw it away. You learn to be grateful for the generosity of the person who gave it and try to put it to the best use possible.

So what is the best use possible? You start by looking at your own actions because that’s where the teaching is aimed. You look at the results of the actions you’re doing right now to see if there’s any connection between what you’re doing and the fact that there’s suffering in the mind.
http://www.dhammatalks.org/Archive/Writings/meditations6_v140119.pdf
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Wed Apr 16, 2014 8:54 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:That's why we're focused on the breath. We give the mind an intention: "Stay with the breath. Don't move. Don't go wandering off to other things." And we give it a further intention: "Try to breathe as comfortably as possible." That right there is an immediate exercise in the relationship between your actions and feelings of pleasure and pain. You want to develop that particular sensitivity as much as you can. What's important is the particular combination of the stillness of your focus and the point where you're focused, right at this issue of intention and its relationship to pleasure and pain. This is why breath meditation opens things up in the mind, for it's focused on the real issues.
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Fri Apr 18, 2014 9:00 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:One of the reasons we're so careless in the way we approach happiness is that we get serious about it only when there's a lot of pain. We focus on the pain. We've got to fix it. And there's a sense of desperation about trying to fix our pain, fix our sufferings.

Yet when things get easy, we get lazy. Complacent. All we want to do is just wallow in that sense of wellbeing. And of course wallowing in it is not a cause for more happiness. It just eats up what we already have.

So the trick is to learn how to develop a sense of wellbeing and then not to be heedless — to see what further good we can get out of that wellbeing.

Ajaan Lee gives an example. He says it's like having a tree that gives coconuts. If you want, you can eat up all the coconuts, but that's all you get — a stomach full of coconuts, and soon you're hungry again. But if you take some of the coconuts and plant them, you get more trees and then more trees because you're willing to take what you've got and invest some of it.

In the same way, when you meditate, you take what sense of wellbeing you have and invest some of it in creating more wellbeing.
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Sat Apr 19, 2014 9:05 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:The Buddha explicitly warns against taking on too many questions, particularly those that lead nowhere and tie us up in knots: "Who am I? Am I basically a good person? An unworthy person?" Instead, he tells us to focus on our intentions so that we can see how they shape our life, and to master the processes of cause and effect so that they can shape our life in increasingly better ways. This is the way every great artist or craftsman develops mastery and skill.
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Wed Apr 23, 2014 10:43 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:"He showed me the brightness of the world." That's how my teacher, Ajaan Fuang, once characterized his debt to his teacher, Ajaan Lee. His words took me by surprise. I had only recently come to study with him, still fresh from a school where I had learned that serious Buddhists took a negative, pessimistic view of the world. Yet here was a man who had given his life to the practice of the Buddha's teachings, speaking of the world's brightness. Of course, by "brightness" he wasn't referring to the joys of the arts, food, travel, sports, family life, or any of the other sections of the Sunday newspaper. He was talking about a deeper happiness that comes from within.
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Fri Apr 25, 2014 4:07 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:Or you can recollect the Buddha and what a wonderful teacher he was.... He taught not because he wanted fame or recognition or approval from people. He taught because he had something good to share. It’s really hard to find a teacher like that. The fact we have that kind of teacher is something we should take joy in....

It’s all straightforward truth, all straightforward beneficial teaching. As the Buddha said, things he would teach were, one, true; two, beneficial; and three, timely. So even though he’s not here where we can see him in action, to see which teaching he would pull out for any particular situation, we can still apply his standards to learn from our own efforts.
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