Intro to 'Wings...'

Theravāda in the 21st century - modern applications of ancient wisdom
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Intro to 'Wings...'

Postby appicchato » Fri Sep 18, 2009 11:18 am

Recently re-reading (as I'm wont to do) the introduction to Thanissaro's 'Wings To Awakening' and am moved to broach the subject here, as it contains his take on several topics discussed here at the Wheel...faith, rebirth, et al...

I say broach the subject...just offering it to those who may be interested as I have found it very helpful seeing, what one might call, the (or, at least, part of the) big picture...

While he (Thanissaro Bhikkhu) is not everyone's cup of tea he gets a lot of people's vote...including mine...

It can be read at the following link:


http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... html#intro

And the entire 'Wings' can be downloaded (as a PDF) at:

www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/tha ... /wings.pdf

Unsolicited review: It's tough to go wrong with this gem... :reading:

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Re: Intro to 'Wings...'

Postby chownah » Fri Sep 18, 2009 2:28 pm

From the Intro:

"The Wings to Awakening constitute the Buddha's own list of his most important teachings. Toward the end of his life, he stated several times that as long as the teachings in this list were remembered and put into practice, his message would endure. Thus the Wings constitute, in the Buddha's eyes, the words and skills most worth mastering and passing along to others."

Anyone have a reference to the Sutta which contains "the Buddha's own list"?

chownah

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Re: Intro to 'Wings...'

Postby Jechbi » Fri Sep 18, 2009 3:36 pm

chownah wrote:Anyone have a reference to the Sutta which contains "the Buddha's own list"?

There's a pretty good listing in DN 16, the Maha-parinibbana Sutta. Do a word search (cntl F) for the word "endure" when you have the page open.
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Re: Intro to 'Wings...'

Postby David N. Snyder » Fri Sep 18, 2009 6:11 pm

chownah wrote:Anyone have a reference to the Sutta which contains "the Buddha's own list"?


I think it is mentioned in several places, including Anguttara Nikaya 7.67, Majjhima Nikaya 103.

That is a good point about this list representing the most important teachings. In several threads here and in other forums, people often ask "what are the most essential teachings?" or "what are the most important Suttas?" And here we have the Buddha's own favorite list in the 37 factors of enlightenment.

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Re: Intro to 'Wings...'

Postby Tex » Sat Sep 19, 2009 2:38 am

appicchato wrote:
While he (Thanissaro Bhikkhu) is not everyone's cup of tea he gets a lot of people's vote...including mine...



Wholeheartedly agree. I know his "not-self strategy" is controversial (and possibly other stances?), but his study guides on A2I were invaluable to me when I was getting started and I still enjoy his Dhamma talks. I've wondered why Wings... isn't recommended more often.
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Re: Intro to 'Wings...'

Postby BlackBird » Sat Sep 19, 2009 6:49 am

On a wee a side (sorry Bhante)
I read this wee essay by Venerable Thanissaro on Samvega & Pasada a couple of years ago, and it just all fell into place. I finally had an explanation for what I was feeling. Venerable Thanissaro's contribution to Buddhism cannot be denyed.

Metta
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'The Blessed One is the Teacher, I am a disciple. He is the one who knows, not I." - MN. 70 Kitagiri Sutta

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Re: Intro to 'Wings...'

Postby Mawkish1983 » Sat Sep 19, 2009 7:15 am

I actually have a printed version of that book, but I only managed to get through the introduction (I have a short concentration span and haven't finished reading a book for about 10 years, for shame). If other people are reading this maybe I'll pick it up again :)

Incidentally, why is TB contraversial [sp?]?

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Re: Intro to 'Wings...'

Postby phil » Sat Sep 19, 2009 11:57 am

I ordered this book from his monastery but as much as I have been motivated by listening to his talks - there is no one better when it comes to being proactive about fighting gross defilements, in my opinion - I find there are a few too many points which he declares to be the Buddha's teaching which are pretty questionable so I find I just can't fully trust him when it comes to dealing with the deep teachings, which I assume that this book does. (He is of course not the only one who might say "the Buddha taught that..." without being correct on that point, just about all the modern teachers I've heard do on occasion, usually with respect to a meditation technique of relatively modern origin.) But as I say he has helped me enormously at getting rid of complacency with respect to gross defilements...

As someone else said, if people start reading and discussing this book it might motivate me to get it from wherever it was stored away. I found it difficult to read, for some reason, and I think I found that there is a lay out of the teachings, a progression through the teachings that is a little bit too much the invention of Ven. Thanissaro, I suspect....

Metta,

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Re: Intro to 'Wings...'

Postby BlackBird » Sat Sep 19, 2009 9:11 pm

Mawkish1983 wrote:Incidentally, why is TB contraversial [sp?]?


Hey Mawk

This might be able to shed some light:
viewtopic.php?f=13&t=986&start=0

:anjali:
Jack
"For a disciple who has conviction in the Teacher's message & lives to penetrate it, what accords with the Dhamma is this:
'The Blessed One is the Teacher, I am a disciple. He is the one who knows, not I." - MN. 70 Kitagiri Sutta

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Re: Intro to 'Wings...'

Postby Cittasanto » Sun Sep 20, 2009 12:28 am

I have just finished reading the Book, I skipped past the suttas as I have already read them on A2I but did cross reference the sutta number in the book with the sutta designation after it just so I knew what he was refering to, after I finished the parts.

Great Book I will have to read the introduction again to address the OP's thoughts directly though, although I will add that it is a great book, I do like the fact that he explains his translations of words when appropriate.
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Re: Intro to 'Wings...'

Postby chownah » Mon Sep 21, 2009 2:06 pm

Jechbi wrote:
chownah wrote:Anyone have a reference to the Sutta which contains "the Buddha's own list"?

There's a pretty good listing in DN 16, the Maha-parinibbana Sutta. Do a word search (cntl F) for the word "endure" when you have the page open.

Thanks for the link....is this the list which I have put in bold?:

From the above link:
"........
61. Thereupon the Blessed One entered the hall of audience, and taking the seat prepared for him, he exhorted the bhikkhus, saying: "Now, O bhikkhus, I say to you that these teachings of which I have direct knowledge and which I have made known to you — these you should thoroughly learn, cultivate, develop, and frequently practice, that the life of purity may be established and may long endure, for the welfare and happiness of the multitude, out of compassion for the world, for the benefit, well being, and happiness of gods and men.

62. "And what, bhikkhus, are these teachings? They are the four foundations of mindfulness, the four right efforts, the four constituents of psychic power, the five faculties, the five powers, the seven factors of enlightenment, and the Noble Eightfold Path. These, bhikkhus, are the teachings of which I have direct knowledge, which I have made known to you, and which you should thoroughly learn, cultivate, develop, and frequently practice, that the life of purity may be established and may long endure, for the welfare and happiness of the multitude, out of compassion for the world, for the benefit, well being, and happiness of gods and men."

......"

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Re: Intro to 'Wings...'

Postby chownah » Wed Sep 23, 2009 2:55 pm

From the Intro:

"The Wings to Awakening constitute the Buddha's own list of his most important teachings. Toward the end of his life, he stated several times that as long as the teachings in this list were remembered and put into practice, his message would endure. Thus the Wings constitute, in the Buddha's eyes, the words and skills most worth mastering and passing along to others."


Now that I know what the list is made up of....I'm wondering if Thanisaro has correctly identified them as "his most important teachings." Seems to me that the Buddha has indicated to monks that they would do well to focus on these things but does this mean that these things are "his most important teachings?" I think that using this as a description for the list might lead people to ignore other teachings which might actually resonate more with their experiences and thereby actually help them more along the path than the items on the list. The items listed seem to me to be advanced topics which beginners might not have much interest in or ability to understand....thereby showing that at least for them the items listed are not the most improtant ones. Perhaps Thanisaro should have said "his most important teachings for monks" or "his most important teachings for advanced followers.".....i don't know....maybe I'm missing something....

chownah

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Re: Intro to 'Wings...'

Postby Jechbi » Wed Sep 23, 2009 4:05 pm

Hi Chownah,
chownah wrote:I think that using this as a description for the list might lead people to ignore other teachings which might actually resonate more with their experiences and thereby actually help them more along the path than the items on the list.

Like what, for example?

I'm not disagreeing with you. I think you're right that for each of us in any particular situation, different teachings might be more appropriate depending on the circumstances. This document that Ven. Thanisaro offers undoubtedly could use more editing, more revising, more refining, just as most published documents can, but I took his description to mean most important teachings with regard to understanding all the other teachings in context.

But you're right, there's lots more. For example, I've really enjoyed the recollections posts lately in the Dhamma Drops thread. For some, that might resonate more at this particular moment. But I don't think Ven. Thanisaro's presentation would necessarily cause people to ignore other teachings. Best wishes in your practice, Chownah.

:smile:
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Re: Intro to 'Wings...'

Postby christopher::: » Sun Mar 14, 2010 9:58 am

phil wrote: As someone else said, if people start reading and discussing this book it might motivate me to get it from wherever it was stored away. I found it difficult to read, for some reason, and I think I found that there is a lay out of the teachings, a progression through the teachings that is a little bit too much the invention of Ven. Thanissaro, I suspect....



I'd love to discuss "Wings" further, perhaps begin by focusing on the Initial table and Introduction? I agree with ven. appicchato, this is an amazing book, presenting Buddha's own summary of his most essential dhamma teachings. Reading this part of the Intro (below) today, a great feeling of gratitude rose up... We are so fortunate to have been born in a time and place where the teachings and opportunities to practice are available to us...

:anjali:

"The need for various ways of presenting his points on a wide range of levels meant that the body of the Buddha's teachings grew ever more varied and immense with time. As his career drew to a close, he found it necessary to highlight the essential core of the teaching, the unadorned content, so that the more timeless aspects of his message would remain clear in his followers' minds. Societies and cultures inevitably change, so that what counts as effective persuasion in one time and place may be ineffective in another. The basic structure of this/that conditionality does not change, however; the qualities of the mind needed for mastering causality and realizing the Unfabricated will always remain the same. The Buddha thus presented the Wings to Awakening as the unadorned content: the timeless, essential core.

Even here, however, the principle of this/that conditionality affected his presentation. He needed to find principles that would be relatively immune to changes in society and culture. He needed a mode of presentation that was simple enough to memorize, but not so simplistic as to distort or limit the teaching. He also needed words that would point, not to abstractions, but to the immediate realities of awareness in the listener's own mind. And, finally, he needed a useful framework for the teaching as a whole, so that those who wanted to track down specific points would not lose sight of how those points fit into the larger picture of the practice.

His solution was to give lists of personal qualities, as we noted above, rather than any of the more abstruse, philosophical doctrines that are often cited as distinctively Buddhist. These personal qualities are immediately present, to at least some extent, in every human mind. Thus they retain a constant meaning no matter what changes occur in one's mental landscape or cultural horizons. The Buddha presents them in seven alternative, interconnected lists (see Table I). Each list — when all of its implications are worked out — is equivalent to all of the others in its effects, but each takes a distinctive approach to the practice. Thus the lists provide enough variety to meet the needs of people caught in different parts of the causal network. As one searches the texts for explanations of the meaning of specific terms and factors in the lists, one finds that the lists connect — directly or indirectly — with everything there. At the same time, the categories of the lists, because they point to qualities in the mind, encourage the listener to regard the teachings not as a system in and of themselves, but as tools for looking directly into his/her own mind, where the sources and solutions to the problem of suffering lie.

As a result, although the lists are short and simple, they are an effective introduction to the teaching and a guide to its practice. From his experience with this/that conditionality on the path, the Buddha had seen that if one develops the mental qualities listed in any one of these seven sets, focuses them on the present, keeping in mind the four frames of reference and analyzing what appears to one's immediate awareness in terms of the categories of the four noble truths, one will inevitably come to the same realizations that he did: the regularity of the Dhamma and the reality of Unbinding. This was the happiness he himself sought and found, and that he wanted others to attain.

In addition to the seven lists, the Buddha left behind a monastic order designed not only so that the teachings would be memorized from generation to generation, but also so that future generations would have living examples of the teaching to learn from, and a conducive social environment in which to put them into practice. This environment was intended as a gift not only for those who would ordain, but also for those lay people who associated with the order, taking the opportunity to develop their own generosity, morality, and mindfulness in the process. Associating with others who are following a sensitive disciplinary code forces one to become more sensitive and disciplined oneself. Although our concern in this book is with the Dhamma, or the teaching of the Wings to Awakening, we should not forget that the Buddha named his teaching Dhamma-Vinaya. The Vinaya was the set of rules and regulations he established for the smooth running of the order. Dhamma is the primary member of the compound, but the Vinaya forms the context that helps keep it alive. They meet in a common focus on the factor of intention. The Vinaya uses its rules not only to foster communal order, but also to sensitize individual practitioners to the element of intention in all their actions. The Dhamma then makes use of this sensitivity as a means of fostering the insights that lead to Awakening.

After he had placed the Dhamma-Vinaya on a sure footing, the Buddha passed away into total Unbinding. This event has provoked a great deal of controversy within and without the Buddhist tradition, some people saying that if the Buddha was truly compassionate, he should have taken repeated rebirth so that the rest of humanity could continue to benefit from the excellent qualities that he had built into his mind. His total Unbinding, however, can be seen as one of his greatest kindnesses to his followers. By example he showed that, although the path to true happiness entails generosity and kindness to others, the goal of the path needs no justification in terms of anything else. The limitless freedom of Unbinding is a worthy end for its own sake. Society's usual demand that people must justify their actions by appeal to the continued smooth functioning of society or the happiness of others, has no sway over the innate worth of this level. The Buddha made use of the kammic residue remaining after his Awakening to make a free gift of the Dhamma-Vinaya to all who care about genuine happiness and health, but when those residues were exhausted, he took the noble way of true health as an example and challenge to us all.

Thus the Dhamma-Vinaya can be seen as the Buddha's generous gift to posterity. The rules of the Vinaya offer an environment for practice, while the Wings to Awakening are an invitation and guide to that practice, leading to true happiness. Anyone, anywhere, who is seriously interested in true happiness is welcome to focus on the qualities listed here, to see if this/that conditionality is indeed the causal principle governing the dimensions of time and the present, and to test if it can be mastered in a way that leads to the promised result: freedom transcending those dimensions, totally beyond measure and unbound.
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009

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Re: Intro to 'Wings...'

Postby retrofuturist » Sun Mar 14, 2010 11:23 pm

Greetings Chris:::,

Yes, the Dhamma certainly is timeless.

The Buddha is cool. 8-)

I've never really understood the compulsion to twist and tweak the Dhamma to accommodate regional ignorances, superstitions and prejudices (and I'm talking equally here about the so-called "West" as I am the so-called "East"). The Dhamma points directly to the proximite causes of suffering and these remain unchanged. If the illness is the same, the cure remains the same.

Metta,
Retro. :)
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Re: Intro to 'Wings...'

Postby christopher::: » Mon Mar 15, 2010 8:03 am

retrofuturist wrote:
Yes, the Dhamma certainly is timeless.

The Buddha is cool. 8-)

I've never really understood the compulsion to twist and tweak the Dhamma to accommodate regional ignorances, superstitions and prejudices (and I'm talking equally here about the so-called "West" as I am the so-called "East"). The Dhamma points directly to the proximite causes of suffering and these remain unchanged. If the illness is the same, the cure remains the same.



I agree, Retro. In many cases i think it's simply ignorance, a lack of understanding, depth of experience and practice, perhaps. Passing the Dhamma on as it has been taught in your school or by your teachers, rather then taking some initiative and investigating further.

Sometimes a mistaken emphasis occurs, such as a former forum we once belonged to where there seemed to be an over-emphasis made on certain teachings (karma, rebirth, dependent origination) rather then on the Dharma as a whole, as an interconnected package...

Perhaps?
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009

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Re: Intro to 'Wings...'

Postby jcsuperstar » Mon Mar 15, 2010 1:14 pm

LP Buddhadasa said in teaching the dhamma we should be both conservative and radical. conservative in that we don't stray from or change the dhamma, radical in the methods we use to get new listeners, cultures to learn it, understand it.







p.s. i like ajahn thanissaro, the more i study the more i feel at home in the thai forest tradition.
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Re: Intro to 'Wings...'

Postby Kim OHara » Wed Mar 17, 2010 10:49 am

David N. Snyder wrote:That is a good point about this list representing the most important teachings. In several threads here and in other forums, people often ask "what are the most essential teachings?" or "what are the most important Suttas?" And here we have the Buddha's own favorite list in the 37 factors of enlightenment.

It turns up in an important list of the beliefs unifying Theravada and Mahayana, too: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basic_Points_Unifying_the_Theravada_and_the_Mahayana

:namaste:
Kim

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Re: Intro to 'Wings...'

Postby christopher::: » Thu Mar 18, 2010 1:44 am

Kim O'Hara wrote:
It turns up in an important list of the beliefs unifying Theravada and Mahayana, too: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basic_Points_Unifying_the_Theravada_and_the_Mahayana



Thanks for that, Kim.

:thumbsup:
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009


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