Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Thinking about the possibility that true awakening can be found through your efforts: that breaks through those circumscribed limits. That’s not part of anybody else’s plan, but that can be part of your plan.

Ṭhānissaro Bhikkhu, also known as Ajaan Geoff (born 1949), is an American Theravada Buddhist monk of the Thai forest kammatthana tradition.

Quotes[edit]

  • In our culture ... people who don't submit to their lust are said to be repressed and have all kinds of warped beasts in the basement. So the part of the mind that thrives when it's freed from lust doesn't get a chance. It gets pushed into the corner of the basement. It becomes the repressed part.
  • "The Interactive Present" (2002)

"Meditation: The How and the Why" (2003)[edit]

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  • Ardently alert means that when the mind is staying with the breath, you try to be as sensitive as possible in adjusting it to make it feel good, and in monitoring the results of your efforts. Try long breathing to see how it feels. Try short breathing, heavy breathing, light breathing, deep, shallow. The more refined you can make your awareness, the better the meditation goes because you can make the breath more and more refined, a more and more comfortable place for the mind to stay. Then you can let that sense of comfort spread throughout the body. Think of the breath not simply as the air coming in and out the lungs, but as the flow of energy throughout the whole body. The more refined your awareness, the more sensitive you can be to that flow. The more sensitive you are, the more refined the breath becomes, the more gratifying, the more absorbing it becomes as a place to stay.
  • This is the basic trick in getting the mind to settle down in the present moment — you've got to give it something that it likes to stay with. If it's here against its will, it's going to be like a balloon you push under the water. As long as your hand has a good grasp on the balloon, it's not going to pop up, but as soon as you slip a little bit, the balloon pops up out of the water. If the mind is forced to stay on an object that it really finds unpleasant, it's not going to stay. As soon as your mindfulness slips just a little bit, it's gone.
  • Maybe you can't make the whole body comfortable, but make at least part of the body comfortable and stay with that part. As for the pains, let them be in the other part. They have every right to be there, so make an arrangement with them. They stay in one part, you stay in another. But the essential point is that you have a place where the mind feels stable, secure, and comfortable in the present moment. These are the beginning steps in meditation.
  • Society tends to slough off the problems of aging, illness, and death, tends to push them off to the side because other things seem more pressing. Making a lot of money is more important. Having fulfilling relationships is more important. Whatever. And the big issues in life — the fact that you're headed for the sufferings and indignities that come with an aging, ill, or dying body — get pushed off, pushed out of the way. "Not yet, not yet, maybe some other time." And of course when that other time does arrive and these things come barging in, they won't accept your "not yet," won't be pushed out anymore. If you haven't prepared yourself for them, you'll really be up the creek, at a total loss.

Conviction and Confidence (2010)[edit]

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  • Sometimes you hear the idea that the ego is so corrupt that anything it tries to do is going to be corrupted as well. That idea closes off all the doors except for one: the hope that somebody is going to come along and save you. But that hope is irresponsible. The responsible attitude is that you’re responsible for the actions of your mind. You really can choose. And fortunately your motives are not always corrupt. As the Buddha said, you can take advantage of the fact that you want true happiness, and develop some noble qualities out of that. The qualities of purity, compassion, and wisdom come from taking your desire for true happiness seriously.
  • I remember when I first went to Singapore. I marveled at how planned everything was. But the sense of marvel was not totally positive. They had everything laid out for you: where you were going to be born, what you were going to do as a child, where you were going to get your education, where they would channel you when you’d go to work. They had things planned out for your retirement, and then for your death. It gives rise to the feeling that you might as well go ahead and die and get it over with, if that was going to circumscribe the totality of your life. But thinking about the possibility that true awakening can be found through your efforts: that breaks through those circumscribed limits. That’s not part of anybody else’s plan, but that can be part of your plan. And to whatever extent you can nurture that conviction, it keeps your heart nurtured and nourished as well.
  • There’s a passage where [the Buddha] contrasts his way of teaching with what he calls training in bombast. Training in bombast is where you’re taught things that are very poetic, that sound very high, very lovely, very inspiring, but no one is encouraged to ask what, precisely, they mean. After all, in bombast there really is no precise meaning. It’s all just vague, high-sounding words. But, as the Buddha said, he taught cross-questioning. Your training with him was in cross-questioning. When there was a teaching you didn’t understand, he encouraged you to ask, “What’s the meaning of this? What’s the purpose of that? How far should this word be taken?” That way, wherever there are any doubts or uncertainties, you can clear them up.

External links[edit]

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