Thānissaro Bhikkhu (Geoffrey DeGraff) is an American Buddhist monk in the kammaṭṭhāna (Thai forest) Tradition. After graduating from Oberlin College in 1971 with a degree in European Intellectual History, he traveled to Thailand where he studied meditation with Ajahn Fuang Jotiko, who was himself a disciple of the late Ajahn Lee. He joined the order of monks in Wat Dhammasathit in 1976, where he remained after the death of his teacher in 1986. In 1991, he traveled to the San Diego County hills of the US, where he helped Ajahn Suwat Suwaco establish Metta Forest Monanstery (Wat Mettavanaram). He has been abbot of that monastery since 1993. Ṭhānissaro Bhikkhu is perhaps best known for his translations of the Dhammapada and the Sutta Pitaka - more than 1000 suttas - and so the main share for the sutta translations for the website Accesstoinsight , and his translations of 'Dhamma-talks' from the Thai forest Ajahns. He has also written several of his own works on the Dhamma and study guides for his Pali translations.

In the Eyes of the Wise: The Buddha’s Teachings on Honor & Shame

In the Eyes of the Wise: The Buddha’s Teachings on Honor & Shame

Several years back, I led a retreat in Santa Fe on the topic of karma. One of the readings was a passage in which the Buddha teaches his seven-year-old son, Rahula, how to examine his actions, as he would his face in a mirror, to make sure that he harms no one—neither himself nor anyone […]

Factors for Awakening Part 10: Toward Release

Factors for Awakening Part 10: Toward Release

Practicing mindfulness means keeping something in mind. Practicing right mindfulness means keeping in mind two activities that we’ll be doing here as we meditate. One is being with the breath. The Buddha calls this keeping track of the body in and of itself. In other words, you don’t think about your body in the context […]

Factors for Awakening Part 9: Skills for Awakening

Factors for Awakening Part 9: Skills for Awakening

We often come to the meditation to gain a sense of peace and calm, to find some rest. And it is important that we gain these things from the meditation: We learn how to breathe in a way that calms the body, calms the mind; we think in ways that calm the body, calm the […]

Factors for Awakening Part 8: Equanimity

Factors for Awakening Part 8: Equanimity

When the Buddha lists the factors for awakening, equanimity comes at the end of the list, which gives the impression that it’s the highest of the list. And in one way it is, but in many ways it’s not. It’s listed as one of the factors that’s useful on some occasions. When the mind is […]

Factors for Awakening Part 7: Concentration

Factors for Awakening Part 7: Concentration

Focus your attention right here. The mind will be creating other “heres” to carry you away from right here. But you don’t have to go with them. Ajaan Lee’s image is of a post at the edge of the sea. The sea rises, but the post doesn’t rise with the sea. The sea ebbs away, […]

Factors for Awakening Part 6: Calm

Factors for Awakening Part 6: Calm

As we meditate, we try to bring the mind to a state of calm. But you notice, if you look at the Buddha’s explanations for the factors for awakening, there are times when calm is appropriate and times when it’s not. The fact that there are times when it’s not doesn’t mean that you’re not […]

Factors for Awakening Part 5: Rapture

Factors for Awakening Part 5: Rapture

Take a few deep, long in-and-out breaths and think of the breath energy filling the body. When we talk of the breath energy being full, it’s not a matter of having your lungs stuffed with air. It’s more that the energy channels throughout the body are open and they feel saturated with comfortable energy. So […]

Factors for Awakening Part 4: Persistence

Factors for Awakening Part 4: Persistence

The Buddha says that three factors of the path hover around all the other factors. There’s right view, which helps you to know what’s, say, right speech or wrong speech, right action or wrong action, right mindfulness or wrong mindfulness. Then there’s right mindfulness, which keeps in mind the fact that you want to develop […]

Factors for Awakening Part 3: Analysis of Qualities

Factors for Awakening Part 3: Analysis of Qualities

We all come to the practice with doubts and questions. But we don’t get past our doubts by not asking questions. We do it by learning how to ask the right questions. There’s a passage where the Buddha talks about how to overcome doubt. He says it’s by paying appropriate attention to the qualities of […]

Factors for Awakening Part 2: Mindfulness

Factors for Awakening Part 2: Mindfulness

When the Buddha lists the factors for awakening, he says that there are some that are appropriate when the mind is sluggish. Those factors are analysis of qualities, rapture, and persistence: the qualities that energize the mind. Then there are qualities appropriate when the mind is overly excited, overly energetic: calm, equanimity, and concentration. Those […]

Factors for Awakening Part 1: Introduction

Factors for Awakening Part 1: Introduction

Several years back, I was asked to give a talk on the factors for awakening: mindfulness, analysis of qualities, persistence, rapture, calm, concentration, and equanimity. And it turned out that the people who’d organized the event had asked for that topic under the impression that the factors for awakening were a description of the awakened […]

Kalama Sutta: The Buddha’s Charter of Free Inquiry

Kalama Sutta: The Buddha’s Charter of Free Inquiry

I heard thus. Once the Blessed One, while wandering in the Kosala country with a large community of bhikkhus, entered a town of the Kalama people called Kesaputta. The Kalamas who were inhabitants of Kesaputta: “Reverend Gotama, the monk, the son of the Sakyans, has, while wandering in the Kosala country, entered Kesaputta. The good […]

Jhana Not by the Numbers

Jhana Not by the Numbers

When I first went to study with my teacher, Ajaan Fuang, he handed me a small booklet of meditation instructions and sent me up the hill behind the monastery to meditate. The booklet—written by his teacher, Ajaan Lee—began with a breath meditation technique and concluded with a section showing how the technique was used to […]

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