Questions and Answers with Dharma Realm Buddhist University
Ajahn Pasanno
Q&A session, Nov. 18, 2014
Abhayagiri Buddhist Monastery in Redwood Valley, California
29 excerpts, 1:27:03 total duration

A small group from the Dharma Realm Buddhist University (DRBU) located at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas (CTTB) spent the morning at Abhayagiri. The group included two bhikkshunis as well as a number of resident volunteers at the CTTB. The students are in DRBU’s Masters of Arts in Buddhist Classics program. This semester the students have been reading various spiritual biographies including the biographies of the Thai Forest masters Ajahn Mun, Ajahn Tate and Ajahn Lee Dhammadharo. The audio is from their question and answer session with Ajahn Pasanno.

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Ajahn Pasanno – Nov. 18, 2014 Download audio (1:32:32)

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1. [5:05] “What is Abhayagiri's daily schedule?” [Abhayagiri] // [Chanting] [Meditation] [Work] [Almsround]


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2. [9:12] “Ajahn Lee's biography contrasts the lives of city and forest monks. Is the lifesytle here (Abhayagiri) similar to the dhutaṅga monks?” [Ajahn Lee Dhammadharo] [Forest versus city monks] [Abhayagiri] [Ascetic practices] // [Vinaya] [Saṅgha] [Culture/Thailand] [Learning] [Merit] [Nibbāna]


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3. [15:34] “What are the connotations of "dhutaṅga monk?" Is it a slur?” [Forest versus city monks] [Ascetic practices] // [Tudong] [Culture/Thailand] [Ajahn Pasanno]


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4. [19:01] Story: Ajahn Ñāṇiko's tudong up the California coast. [Ajahn Ñāṇiko] [Tudong] [Abhayagiri]

Reference: "Circles of Blessing: Our Redwood Tudong"


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5. [21:55] “Did they (Ajahn Ñāṇiko and Tan Pamutto) have backpacking gear?” [Ajahn Ñāṇiko] [Tudong] [Abhayagiri] [Shelter]


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6. [23:08] Story: The two-month tudong to Pacific Hermitage [Tudong] [Abhayagiri] [Pacific Hermitage] // [Ajahn Ñāṇiko] [Almsround]


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7. [24:38] “So it's pretty rare to get food every day when you're on a walk?” [Tudong] [Almsround] // [Impermanence]


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8. [25:28] “Do you have to educate the local people about almsround when you go on tudong?” [Tudong] [Almsround] // [Robes] [Culture/West] [Not handling money]


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9. [27:34] “How does tudong help you on the spiritual path?” [Tudong] // [Simplicity] [Craving] [Teaching Dhamma] [Faith]


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10. [29:42] “Is there a requirement for monks in the Forest Tradition to walk tudong?” [Thai Forest Tradition] [Tudong] // [Ascetic practices] [Ajahn Chah] [Restlessness and worry]

Story: Ajahn Chah tells a monk to pack his gear and walk tudong within Wat Pah Pong.

Story: Ajahn Chah lets a restless three-Vassa Western monk go tudong. [Teaching Dhamma]


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11. [33:59] “Can bhikkhshunis walk tudong?” [Bhikkhunī] [Tudong] // [Vinaya] [Sīladharā] [History/Western Buddhist monasticism] [Christianity]


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12. [35:54] “What is the ordination process of someone who wants to become a monk?” [Sequence of training] [Ordination] // [Abhayagiri] [Saṅgha] [Saṅgha decision making]


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13. [38:31] “Is the decision to ordain a novice by democratic vote?” [Sequence of training] [Abhayagiri] [Saṅgha] [Saṅgha decision making] // [Vinaya] [History/Early Buddhism]


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14. [41:51] “What happens after five years?” [Sequence of training] [Abhayagiri]


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15. [43:02] “How often does the community reject someone who wants to go forth?” [Sequence of training] [Abhayagiri] [Saṅgha] [Saṅgha decision making] // [Vinaya]


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16. [45:07] “May I ask for your secret? [Why is Abhayagiri monastic training so often successful?]” [Sequence of training] [Abhayagiri] [Monastic life] // [Theravāda] [Simplicity] [Vinaya] [Culture/Thailand] [Ajahn Chah] [Middle Path] [Ajahn Mahā Boowa] [History/Western Buddhist monasticism] [Right Effort] [Compassion]


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17. [51:47] “Do American monks have a culture shock when they visit Thailand?” [Monastic life] [Culture/West] [Culture/Thailand] // [Wat Pah Nanachat]


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18. [54:10] “How do we take refuge in awareness (Buddho) in daily life?” [Buddha] [Recollection/Buddha] [Knowing itself] [Continuity of mindfulness] [Everyday life] // [Precepts] [Mindfulness] [Discernment] [Recollection] [Clear comprehension] [Right Effort] [Seclusion] [Nature of mind] [Proliferation] [Culture/Thailand]

Sutta: MN 10: Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta

Note: In the answer to this question, Ajahn Pasanno equates awareness with mindfulness.

Quote: “The literal meaning of Buddho is 'the one who knows,' but it's also being the one who knows, where you have the opportunity for us to be that knowing.”


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19. [1:03:01] “So being the one who knows, you don't have to react to dislike and like?” [Recollection/Buddha] [Knowing itself] [Aversion] [Greed]

Quote: “The difference between an awakened mind and an unawakened mind is that the unawakened mind keeps following likes and dislikes. An awakened mind can see that arise, establish itself, and pass away. The mind is the same.” [Nature of mind] [Stages of awakening] [Impermanence] [Cessation]


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20. [1:03:40] “So why can awareness be the place where we take refuge?” [Knowing itself] [Mindfulness] // [Proliferation] [Three Refuges]


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21. [1:04:42] “How do you not objectify this awareness?” [Knowing itself] [Mindfulness] [Proliferation] // [Four Noble Truths] [Suffering] [Relinquishment] [Investigation of states]

Quote: “If you objectify awareness, you're going to suffer.” [Nature of mind]

Quote: “These Four Noble Truths are not an endpoint, they are something that you're internalizing and using in your meditation practice and in your daily life.” [Meditation] [Everyday life]


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22. [1:07:01] The values of the Thai Forest Tradition. [Thai Forest Tradition] // [Knowing itself] [Mindfulness] [Recollection/Buddha] [Four Noble Truths] [Ajahn Chah] [Ajahn Tate] [Ajahn Mun] [Heart/mind] [Three Refuges]

Quote: “Pay attention to the difference between the mind and the objects of mind.” — Ajahn Mun [Nature of mind] [Moods of the mind] [Discernment]


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23. [1:09:48] “Is the peaceful mind your home?” [Nature of mind] [Tranquility] // [Proliferation] [Suffering]


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24. [1:10:49] “Ajahn Mun's biography describes a constant fierce vigilance, watching the mind. But meeting you guys, you're so peaceful and calm. How does this work in terms of practice?” [Ajahn Mun] [Continuity of mindfulness] [Right Effort] [Tranquility] // [Ajahn Mahā Boowa] [Culture/Thailand] [Dhamma books] [Teaching Dhamma]

Quote: “Any great teacher is not monochromatic.” [Buddha] [Arahant]

Sutta: AN 4.243: "But Ānanda, when has Anuruddha ever concerned himself with disciplinary issues in the midst of the Saṅgha?" [Great disciples] [Personality]


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25. [1:16:30] “So what about the Bodhisattva practice?” [Bodhisattva] // [Theravāda] [Mahāyāna] [Thai Forest Tradition] [Generosity] [Ajahn Chah] [Upatakh] [Teaching Dhamma]

Sutta: AN 4.17-20: Practice that benefits self, others, both or neither.

Quote: "What are the mind states of an enlightened being?" "Only compassion." — Ajahn Mahā Boowa [Arahant] [Compassion] [Ajahn Mahā Boowa] [Wat Pah Nanachat]


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26. [1:21:48] “What are the practicalities of metta practice? How does it relate to compassion?” [Goodwill] [Compassion] // [Theravāda] [Divine Abidings] [Etymology]


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27. [1:24:16] “Ajahn Amaro writes about transforming the energy of sense contact into compassion and metta. How does this work?” [Ajahn Amaro] [Contact] [Compassion] [Goodwill] // [Aversion] [Relinquishment] [Four Noble Truths] [Happiness]


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28. [1:27:42] “What are the natural inclinations that can lead to well-being and peace?” [Nature of mind] [Happiness] [Tranquility] // [Aversion] [Right Effort] [Compassion]


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29. [1:28:41] “The Buddha teaches to end suffering, but from the ordinary person's view, cultivating the practices of forest monks is also suffering. Who is right?” [Buddha] [Suffering] [Ascetic practices] // [Four Noble Truths] [Faith] [Investigation of states] [Happiness] [Feeling]

Quote: “The teaching of the Buddha isn't about language....The teaching of the Buddha is the language of experience.” — Ajahn Chah [Ajahn Chah] [Language] [Dhamma] [Direct experience]