Thursday, November 27, 2008

peeling off our layers

Dharma practice is not a matter of learning more and more, studying more and more... It's a matter of emptying out, peeling off layer after layer. We're already so full of junk, so stuffed to the top, that first we need to empty out... We need to start peeling off all our opinions, all our ideas, and all over cleverness and just remain very naked, in the moment, just seeing things as they are, like a small child.

Tenzin Palmo

Picture by: tina_manthorpe @ Flickr

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

the paradox of becoming

A new book by Thanissaro Bhikkhu:

The topic of becoming, although it features one major paradox, contains other paradoxes as well. Not the least of these is the fact that, although becoming is one of the most important concepts in the Buddha’s teachings, there is no fullscale treatment of it in the English language. This book is an attempt to fill that lack.

The importance of becoming is evident from the role it plays in the four noble truths, particularly in the second: Suffering and stress are caused by any form of craving that leads to becoming. Thus the end of suffering must involve the end of becoming. The central paradox of becoming is also evident in the second noble truth, where one of the three forms of craving leading to becoming is craving for non‐becoming—the ending of what has come to be. This poses a practical challenge for any attempt to put an end to becoming. Many writers have tried to resolve this paradox by defining non‐becoming in such a way that the desire for Unbinding (nibbana) would not fall into that category. However, the Buddha himself taught a strategic resolution to this paradox, in which the four noble truth—the path to the end of suffering—involves creating a type of becoming where the mind is so steady and alert that it can simply allow what has come into being to pass away of its own accord, thus avoiding the twin dangers of craving for becoming or for non‐becoming.

Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Available in pdf for download:
The Paradox of Becoming

To listen to a talk by Thanissaro Bhikkhu on this subject:
Dhamma Talk on The Paradox of Becoming in Oct 2008

Picture: All Rights Reserved ® aml.2008

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Interview with Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Being A Monk

As an Oberlin student, Geoff was introduced to meditation during a winter-term seminar in 1969. He graduated in 1971, and then served as a Shansi rep in Thailand for two years. After returning there in 1976, he was ordained a monk and spent the next 15 years immersed in the Forest monastery tradition of Theravada Buddhism (see sidebar). He returned to the United States in 1991 to establish the Metta Forest Monastery, an American equivalent of the Thai Forest retreats.

Known informally as "Than Geoff," Thanissaro Bhikkhu has written several books on Buddhism and Vipassana (Insight) meditation. Fluent in Thai and Pali, the languages of early Buddhist writings, he has translated the writings of two noted Thai abbots and four volumes of the Pali Canon. In short, he knows his Buddhism.

Although I was anxious during our first phone call, Than Geoff was relaxed and friendly. He started me on an exploration into Buddhism that I've both embraced and tried to avoid almost every day since. Over the years, we've had lengthy conversations about almost everything. But I still had countless questions for him–personal questions I suspected other people also would like to ask a monk. When I suggested an interview, Than Geoff replied instantly, "Sounds like fun." A few months later, on a warm September afternoon at his monastery, Than Geoff and I began to talk.

Read more - A Conversation with Thanissaro Bhikkhu (Geoffrey DeGraff '71)

More writings by Thanissaro Bhikkhu:

Wat Metta Forest Monastery

Friday, November 07, 2008

true freedom

Spiritual freedom, as the opposite of this condition of bondage, must therefore mean freedom from lust, hatred, and delusion. When lust, hatred, and delusion are abandoned in a man, cut off at the root so that they no longer remain even in latent form, then a man finds for himself a seat of autonomy from which he can never be dethroned, a position of mastery from which he can never be shaken. He dwells in the world among the things of the world, yet stands in perfect poise above the world's ebb and flow. If pleasant objects come within range of his perception he does not yearn for them, if painful objects come into range he does not recoil from them. He looks upon both with equanimity and notes their rise and fall. Toward the pairs of opposites which keep the world in rotation he is without concern, the cycle of attraction and repulsion he has broken at its base.

Read more: The Taste of Freedom by Bhikkhu Bodhi

Picture by: wufgaeng against censorship @ Flickr