Suttas You've Never Heard Of
Ajahn Pasanno
Upāsikā Day, Jun. 25, 2016
Abhayagiri Buddhist Monastery in Redwood Valley, California
2 sessions, 24 excerpts, 1:12:02 total duration

Ajahn Pasanno reads and discusses a series of suttas regarding the human condition.

External website

Session 1: The Human Situation

Session 2: Responding to the Human Situation


Session 1: The Human Situation – Ajahn Pasanno – Jun. 25, 2016 [Sutta] [Human]

[Session] Reference: "Befriending the Suttas" at accesstoinsight.org.


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1. [25:41] “You mentioned suttas about meditation and practical life issues. Are there any other general categories of suttas?”


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2. [45:14] “How do these particular teachings (AN 5.48: Situations) fit with kamma?” [Kamma] [Sickness] // [Lawfulness] [Characteristics of existence]


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3. [49:19] Comment: I appreciate that AN 5.48 includes devas and Māra. [Deva] [Māra] [Realms of existence]

Response by Ajahn Pasanno.


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4. [50:04] “In the West, we personalize every bit of suffering. Is it different in Thailand?” Answered by Ajahn Pasanno and Ajahn Karuṇadhammo. [Culture/West] [Suffering] [Self-identity view] [Culture/Thailand] // [Language] [Liberation]

Story: Ajahn Pasanno can't translate guilt into Thai. Told by Ajahn Pasanno. [Ajahn Pasanno] [Guilt/shame/inadequacy] [Thai] [Translation]

Quote: “That's really suffering. Tell them not to do that.” — Ajahn Paññānanda [Ajahn Paññānanda]

Reference: Can't We Talk about Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast (commercial). [Ageing] [Sickness] [Family] [Health care]


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5. [55:20] “In this sutta (AN 5.48), there's the assumption that everyone has enemies. It's making me a little paranoid.” [Fear] // [Judgementalism]


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6. [56:51] “With development (bhavana), is one able to shape the course of sickness or heal oneself to a degree?” [Meditation] [Sickness] [Health] // [Happiness] [Medicinal requisites]

Comment: I've been reflecting on how AN 5.48 applies to environmental and collective well-being–engaging without the expectation that actions will have a certain result. [Environment] [Politics and society]

Response [History/Thai Buddhism]


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7. [1:01:56] Comment: I find it difficult to find the line between what you can change and what you can't. [Politics and society] [Everyday life] [Equanimity]

Response by Ajahn Pasanno. [Clear comprehension] [Delusion]


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8. [1:03:55] Comment: Michael Olds translates sutta as 'magical spell.' The format, repetition, and structure of the suttas has a certain potency. When I read the suttas after meditating, it's completely different. [Psychic powers] [Meditation]

Response by Ajahn Pasanno. [Buddha] [Teaching Dhamma]


Session 2: Responding to the Human Situation – Ajahn Pasanno – Jun. 25, 2016

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[Session] Readings: AN 7.6: Treasures. Translated by Ajahn Ṭhānissaro. [Treasures]


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1. [20:22] Story: A man in an airport asks Ajahn Chah, "If everyone is Buddhist, why are there so many thieves in Thailand?" [Ajahn Chah] [Culture/Thailand] [Stealing] [Virtue] [Precepts]


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2. [22:50] Comment: When I practice and share Dhamma as a lay person, others complain when I make mistakes. [Lay life] [Virtue] [Buddhist identity]

Response by Ajahn Pasanno.


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3. [24:36] Story: Once a junior monk approached Ajahn Chah and listed all Ajahn Chah's faults. Ajahn Chah replied, "It's a good thing you're not looking for perfection in yourself!" Told by Ajahn Jotipālo. [Ajahn Chah] [Virtue] [Perfectionism]


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4. [32:34] Comment: When I hear the word "shame," it's.a cousin of guilt. But in this context (AN 7.6), it seems more acceptable. [Treasures] [Guilt/shame/inadequacy] [Conscience and prudence]

Response by Ajahn Pasanno and Ajahn Karuṇadhammo. [Language] [Christianity]


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5. [34:04] “This year my whole family got lice. How do we respond to this skillfully?” [Lay life] [Family] [Killing] [Animal] // [Human] [Patience]


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6. [47:22] Story: Ajahn Pasanno visits the elderly Cambodian monk Mahāgossānanda who has Alzheimer's disease. [Preah Mahāghosānanda] [Ajahn Pasanno] [Sickness] // [Dalai Lama] [Divine Abidings] [Ajahn Chah] [Heart/mind]

Quote: “That thing you learn in meditation—that you don't lose.” — Ajahn Fuang [Ajahn Fuang] [Meditation] [Liberation]

Story: A monk known for psychic powers visits Ajahn Chah's sick room and reports: "You don't have to worry about Ajahn Chah. His heart is so bright." [Psychic powers] [Dependent origination] [Wat Pah Nanachat] [Lunar observance days]


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7. [55:43] A diligent early support of Wat Pah Nanachat reflects, "I don't have money, but I'm not poor." [Treasures] [Wat Pah Nanachat] [Wat Pah Pong] [Lay life] [Poverty] // [Lunar observance days] [Thai]


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8. [57:56] “Is the list of Seven Treasures sequential?” [Treasures] // [Stream entry] [Practicing in accordance with Dhamma] [Conditionality] [Eightfold Path]


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9. [1:00:35] “I like the translations 'conscience' aand 'concern' for hiri and otappa. Having done unskillful actions in the past that create suffering, and being aware of the tendency to personalize, how can it be over and done?” Answered by Ajahn Pasanno and Ajahn Karuṇadhammo. [Treasures] [Conscience and prudence] [Unskillful qualities] [Suffering] [Kamma] [Self-identity view] // [Four Noble Truths] [Divine Abidings]

Quote: “As a human being, I have the opportunity to learn from the past and move on to skillful action in the future. I don't have to be like a dog that barfs stuff up and goes back and eats it again.” — Ajahn Pasanno [Human] [Learning] [Skillful qualities] [Similes]

Quote: “The not-self refrain, 'This is not me, this is not mine, this is not what or who I am,' is not an abdication of responsibility but an understanding, 'This is the way I can put things down and move on, move past the things that are still creating suffering.'” — Ajahn Pasanno [Not-self] [Relinquishment]

Suttas: SN 42.8 The Conch Blower; AN 3.100: A Lump of Salt.


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10. [1:06:04] “What is a good balance between listening to Dhamma and practicing more deeply? How long should one keep one's practices, and when to expand or shink them?” [Hearing the true Dhamma] [Practicing in accordance with Dhamma] [Determination] // [Four Noble Truths] [Direct experience] [Ajahn Chah] [Dhamma books] [Mindfulness of mind] [Learning]


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11. [1:10:34] Comment: I listen to the Abhayagiri Dhamma talks, focusing more on the timbre of the voice rather than trying to get an intellectual grasp of what was said. That projects me into a dimension of well-being. [Hearing the true Dhamma] [Abhayagiri] [Happiness] [Learning]

Response by Ajahn Pasanno. [Ajahn Chah] [Tranquility]


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12. [1:23:25] Comments about ongoing Dhamma practice and coming back to the heart. [Long-term practice] [Suffering] [Cessation of Suffering] [Ill-will] [Forgiveness] [Mindfulness of mind]

Response by Ajahn Pasanno. [Merit]

Quote: “We're making choices all the time anyway; we may as well choose to be happy.” [Volitional formations] [Happiness]


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13. [1:25:30] “When you're living on the precepts, how do I relate to (for example) a friend who tells me about an affair they are having?” Answered by Ajahn Pasanno and Ajahn Jotipālo. [Precepts] [Spiritual friendship] [Sexual misconduct] // [Skillful qualities] [Admonishment/feedback] [Discernment] [Right Speech] [Vinaya] [Abhayagiri]

Quote: “Don't admonish your fellow monks before the meal.” — Ajahn Chah. Quoted by Ajahn Pasanno. [Ajahn Chah] [Monastic life] [Food] [Eating after noon]


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14. [1:32:16] “Could you comment on the tendency to use one aspect of the teaching to bypass another?” [Spiritual bypass] // [Four Noble Truths] [Recollection/Dhamma] [Relinquishment]

Quote: “With some things, letting go means you're willing to commit to hard work, and other times you're willing to put down what is burdensome.” [Ardency]


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15. [1:34:55] “AN 5.38 says, 'Not by sorrow can even the slightest good come.' How does this work with the natural process of grieving?” [Grief] [Skillful qualities] // [Cultural context] [Family] [Ajahn Chah] [Death] [Characteristics of existence]


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16. [1:39:59] “Part of the sense of loss and sorrow is the joys that have created attachment. How to approach this?” [Grief] [Happiness] [Clinging] // [Naturalness] [Human] [Spaciousness]

Sutta: Thag 1062: Mahākassapa delights in nature. [Great disciples] [Culture/Natural environment]