The Quotable Thanissaro

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Tue May 20, 2014 11:27 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:So patience, in order to be part of the path, has to be coupled with curiosity. Patience acts as a kind of a ballast, keeping the mind grounded, giving a solidity to what you’re doing, and preventing curiosity from the zipping away too fast, saying this must be this, and that must be that, making sure that you go through the steps. Once you find something else, then you try to test it, to see if it really works. Curiosity is what keeps patience from getting dead. The two qualities go together. You sit with things for a while so you can watch them carefully.
From: Patience & Curiosity by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Wed May 21, 2014 2:34 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:Life is not a TV show, where you passively watch whatever’s going to happen, and the show will go on whether you watch it or not. It’s more like an interactive video game. Only when you participate can the game progress. Some things you can’t change in the game, such as the ground rules, but some things you can.... There are some things you can’t change in your situation, but there are a lot that you can. Sometimes you make one choice in the interactive game and it changes the whole plot. Other times it can simply dispose of one or two of the bad guys. But at least you can play an active role. You can get the mind into a position where it’s able to practice, able to turn around and look inside and see that the real cause that makes your pains burdensome is what you’re doing right now.
From: Shoot Your Pains with Wisdom by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Fri May 23, 2014 7:01 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:So life in the monastery is like improv. Improv requires you to be very alert, which of course is an excellent practice for the meditation. Learn how to read the situation around you, and it helps in your skill in reading the situation inside.

Because the same principle happens in the mind. Defilements in your mind don’t come in line with any score. They come willy-nilly. Some days there are a lot; some days there are not that many. You have to be up for whatever the situation requires. This is what right effort is all about. Some issues come up in the mind that require a lot of effort and a lot of thought. Others require just that you watch, and they go away on their own. So you have to learn a sensitivity to what needs to be done inside. Remember that the practice of meditation is not a military exercise or a mechanical exercise. It’s improv. So the two skills should help each other along — learning how to improvise inside, and learning how to improvise outside. That’s what leads to harmony.
From: Harmony Improv by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Sat May 24, 2014 7:30 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:In the context of the training the Buddha recommends to Rahula (MN61), this luminosity refers to the mind’s ability to see when its actions are defiled, and to train itself to act in ways that are undefiled and pure. In other words, the image of luminosity is not a statement of the innate goodness or purity of the mind. After all, as the Buddha states in AN 4:199, the idea that “I am good” expresses as much craving for identity as the idea that “I am bad.” Instead, the luminosity of the mind is simply its ability to perceive affliction, to see how that affliction is related to its actions, and — when it’s willing — to stop engaging in actions that cause affliction. If the mind were dark, it wouldn’t be able to do any of these things.
http://www.dhammatalks.org/Archive/Writings/BeyondAllDirections_v130911.pdf
From: On Denying Defilement by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Sun May 25, 2014 12:41 pm

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:...when things aren’t going all that well in the meditation, it’s still a lot better than most of the things that people do in their lives. It’s a good, beneficial use of your time.
From: Judicious vs. Judgmental by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Mon May 26, 2014 11:49 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:This volunteer spirit is an important part of training the mind. That’s what it’s all about: realizing that you’ve got to put energy into it if you’re going to get anything out of it. When you’re willing to take that first step, make that first gift of your energy, that’s where the practice starts to grow. Without that attitude, it doesn’t go anywhere. All we can think of is what we’d like to get out of the meditation, but before you can get anything you have to give.
From: The Stairway Up by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Tue May 27, 2014 11:57 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:We do have the power to exert control over our intentions right now. And our intentions do shape our experience of the world around us, the world inside us, at least to some extent: enough to make the difference between suffering and not suffering.
http://www.dhammatalks.org/Archive/Writings/meditations6_v140119.pdf
From: The Limits of Control by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby Sam Vara » Tue May 27, 2014 7:01 pm

dhammapal wrote:
Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:...when things aren’t going all that well in the meditation, it’s still a lot better than most of the things that people do in their lives. It’s a good, beneficial use of your time.
From: Judicious vs. Judgmental by Thanissaro Bhikkhu


I like this. I remember a meditation teacher saying to our group "Whatever your mind was doing, for the last three quarters of an hour you didn't indulge in any unskillful bodily activity, nor any unskillful speech".

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Thu May 29, 2014 2:46 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:Use your imagination: You can make your imagination part of the path as well. This is another one of those factors we’re told to avoid at all costs, but that doesn’t work. When things aren’t going well, you have to imagine other ways that they might be able to go.

When the admissions people in some of the more advanced universities throughout the country interview candidates who want to be brain surgeons, they have to assume that everyone who walks in the door is smart; no dumb people are going to apply to be brain surgeons. But not everybody who’s smart is going to be a good surgeon. So the admissions people need the right questions to ferret out the qualities that make a smart person a good surgeon. And they’ve found that one of the best questions is: “Can you tell us about a mistake you made recently?” And the best follow-up question is: “If you had a second chance to do it all over again, how you correct your mistake?” The candidates who answer that they can’t think of any mistakes are the ones who are thrown out immediately. The ones who say “Oh, I made a mistake the other day... and this is how I’d do it again the second time around”: Those are the ones who’d make good surgeons.

Well, the same attitude makes you a good meditator. If you see that things are not going well, you have to use your imagination to figure out what might be another way of approaching things. So imagination here doesn’t mean simply wandering off. You apply your imagination to what’s going on in the present moment, to what you’re doing in the present moment, to get better and better results.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/thanissaro/eDhammaTalks_2.pdf
From: Exploring by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Thu May 29, 2014 3:51 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:Instead of reshaping the Dhamma to fit your notions, maybe you have to reshape yourself to fit the Dhamma. There is bound to be a period of discomfort, bound to be a sense of frustration when things are not quite working out the way you wanted them to. But you need the maturity to learn how to deal with that. This is not a path for immature people. It's a path for people who know that they are in a very precarious position already, and that their ideas and assumptions are especially precarious. But the ideas and presumptions of a materialistic worldview, which is what we were brought up in, offer a very limited range of happiness, whereas the Dhamma offers a lot more. It's simply up to us to decide whether we're willing to make the sacrifices and take the risk to see if the "more" is a reality, if what the Buddha had to say is true.
From: A Sense of Adventure by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Thu May 29, 2014 3:55 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:I'll ask you to return your focus now to any one of the spots we've already covered. Let your attention settle comfortably there, and then let your conscious awareness spread to fill the entire body, from the head down to the toes, so that you're like a spider sitting in the middle of a web: It's sitting in one spot, but it's sensitive to the entire web. Keep your awareness expanded like this — you have to work at this, for its tendency will be to shrink to a single spot — and think of the breath coming in & out your entire body, through every pore. Let your awareness simply stay right there for a while — there's no where else you have to go, nothing else you have to think about... And then gently come out of meditation.
From: Basic Breath Meditation Instructions by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby Kasina » Thu May 29, 2014 4:08 am

"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"

"You will be required to do wrong no matter where you go... This is the curse at work, the curse that feeds on all life..."

Wilbur Mercer in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Thu May 29, 2014 1:08 pm

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:So as you're meditating, realize that you're not doing this just for yourself. You're doing it for the good of the world. And you want to do it well, do it truly, so that it can truly be helpful to others as well. Sometimes that thought can give you an extra incentive to be more careful with your meditation, to put in more effort than you might feel inclined to. We can all get sloppy, thinking, "Well, it's just me and I'm perfectly content with a sloppy meditation tonight so I can get over with it and get on to something else." But what does that kind of meditation do for those who are what the Thais call our companions in aging, illness, and death? Nothing much at all.
From: For the Good of the World by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Fri May 30, 2014 10:06 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:It's so easy for (our minds) to get knocked out of equilibrium, to veer off to the left, to veer off to the right. Staying in the middle is difficult; it requires a lot of balance.... On the other hand, though, you have to be confident that even if the mind does get knocked off balance you can bring it back. Otherwise the practice would be full of fear all the time — afraid of tipping off too far to the left, too far to the right, toppling upside down. There's only one way of learning what the balance point is, and that's through experimenting. And you can experiment only when you're not afraid. So you have to develop the confidence that even when you do go far off the path to one side or the other, you can pull yourself back. There's always that new opportunity in the mind to give yourself a fresh start.
From: No Mistakes Are Fatal by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Sat May 31, 2014 4:16 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:You’d think that if the mind were a single thing,... everything it knows, it would know, without having to communicate. But... it’s like a committee, and the different members have to send messages to one another.... Because there is no one, overarching sense of self, the different members of the committee have learned that they’ve got to listen to one another.... The normally functioning human being has different parts of the mind and they listen to one another, and they know they have to listen to one another in order to function. This is what makes the practice possible.... So when someone asks us what kind of Buddhism we are practicing here, whether we’re the other power kind or the self power kind, the answer is, “Neither.” It’s the committee power kind.
From: Informing the Whole Committee by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Sun Jun 01, 2014 5:52 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:The various exercises surrounding Mindfulness of Death: these are obviously aimed at steadying the mind by chastening it, and at releasing it from laziness and heedlessness, from attachment to the body, and from the petty concerns of daily life. However, they can also be used to gladden the mind by inspiring a sense of appreciation for every opportunity to practice (AN 6:19), and for whatever progress you have already made (AN 6:20).
From: Right Mindfulness: Memory & Ardency on the Buddhist Path by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Sun Jun 01, 2014 11:14 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:In this way you can develop a reliable sense of which teachings are reliable, that you can follow with confidence, and which ones you have to be wary of.
So this is what heedfulness teaches us. When the Buddha counsels heedfulness, he's not teaching you simply to be wary and skeptical. He's giving you precise tests for how you can test things, guidelines for how you can test things, so that you can find what within you is reliable. Once you find what's reliable within you, then you can look around to other people you're hoping to learn from and see what's reliable in them. In that way heedfulness is not simply a wariness; it's a wise way of gauging the different approaches we might possibly use in living our lives.
From: Heedfulness Is the Path by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Mon Jun 02, 2014 6:42 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:So the truths we're learning are hard to learn. They're not just about things outside, but also about what's going on in our minds. There's something not quite right about the way we feed, the way we feel we need to feed. The problem isn't with things out there. It's with our intentions, our reasons for feeding. We have to learn how to become skeptical of our own intentions. And the only way to manage that without feeling disoriented, depressed, or discouraged, is to have the sense of well-being that comes from concentration, so that you let go not out of discouragement or of sour grapes. You let go because you've found a better alternative.
From: The Uses of Concentration by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Mon Jun 02, 2014 8:16 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote: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. Where we have such environments, we find that meditation needs no myth or make-believe to support it, because it is based on the reality of a well-lived life. You can look at the standards by which you live, and then breathe in and out comfortably — not as a flower or a mountain, but as a full-fledged, responsible human being. For that's what you are.
From: The Healing Power of the Precepts by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Mon Jun 02, 2014 8:31 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:Buddhism is unusual among the world’s religions in that it was founded by someone who had made mistakes, or admits that it was founded by someone who knew that he had made mistakes. The Buddha was a human being just like us. Through the many years of his many lives, he knew he made lots of mistakes but he learned how to learn from those mistakes and that’s what made all the difference. So he knew what it’s like to make a mistake, to regret making mistakes, to be in this position of living forward but only understanding backwards.

And so from his experience of learning how to overcome those difficulties, he gives us some wise advice on trying to prevent as many mistakes as we can. But also learning how to live with mistakes, because that’s what life is full of. We always make mistakes. We often make mistakes. And if we take them as an opportunity to learn — rather than a reason either to go into strong guilt or strong denial — we take them as an opportunity to learn, we can benefit from them. As we come to understand more and more what’s going on right now, the more clearly you see right now, then the less likely the choices you make are going to cause harm on into the future.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/thanissaro/eDhammaTalks_3.pdf
From: Living Forwards, Understanding Backwards by Thanissaro Bhikkhu


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