Ajahn Nanamoli Thero, is it a radical new approach to practice ?

Nick Chab Chab, modified 1 Year ago at 1/23/23 7:27 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 1/23/23 6:06 AM

Ajahn Nanamoli Thero, is it a radical new approach to practice ?

Posts: 14 Join Date: 10/10/22 Recent Posts
Hi there, 
I don't really know where to post this so don't hesitate if you feel it's not the right category !
Lately I've been reading/watching most of the content from the Hillside Hermitage website and Youtube channel.
https://www.hillsidehermitage.org/

Now i must say that I'm quite amazed by the teachings of this master which for the first time ever seems to be able to make a crystal clear sense out the buddhist original Suttas. 
I post this here in the hope that some advanced practitioner could check some of his teaching and discuss it here. I'd really like to know if Ajahn Nanamoli Thero's take on meditation practise, 1st path and so forth, relates to their experience and he's just giving another way of getting there, or if he is talking about something totally different ?
I'm bad at presenting but basically he takes a literal view on the Suttas and for example, for him jhanas are a natural by product of senss restraint. He's quite critical of any meditation technique/focusing/labeling. It's kinda hard to put it in a few words. You can read this to get a better taste : 
https://www.hillsidehermitage.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/30hh-The-Four-Noble-Truths.pdf
​​​​​​​https://www.hillsidehermitage.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/257hh-Only-The-Noble-Truth-Of-Pain.pdf
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Dream Walker, modified 1 Year ago at 1/23/23 6:15 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 1/23/23 6:15 AM

RE: Ajahn Nanamoli Thero, is it a radical new approach to practice ?

Posts: 1659 Join Date: 1/18/12 Recent Posts
I just watched some other vague thing on youtube that I won't bother to explain but hopefully you will spend a bunch of your time so that we can discuss it. I'ts related to stuff and might be totally different than that other way.
~D

​​​​​​​;oP
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Dream Walker, modified 1 Year ago at 1/23/23 6:26 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 1/23/23 6:26 AM

RE: Ajahn Nanamoli Thero, is it a radical new approach to practice ?

Posts: 1659 Join Date: 1/18/12 Recent Posts
Ajahn Nyanamoli Thero’s book
“THE ONLY WAY TO JHANA”

Hmmm, kinda lost interest at the title....
THE ONLY WAY TO ANYTHING does not interest me so much as I'm pragmatic up to the point of people marketing. Though the book is free, so good on him for marketing without charging.
~D
Nick Chab Chab, modified 1 Year ago at 1/23/23 6:39 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 1/23/23 6:39 AM

RE: Ajahn Nanamoli Thero, is it a radical new approach to practice ?

Posts: 14 Join Date: 10/10/22 Recent Posts
Man, can you at least take the time to read something to have a real take on it. I'm asking a genuine question. You can read this and maybe tell me what you really think about this teaching :<br />https://www.hillsidehermitage.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/30hh-The-Four-Noble-Truths.pdf<br />https://www.hillsidehermitage.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/215hh-Mindfulness-Of-Breathing-And-Calming-Of-The-Aversion-.pdf<br /> 
Adi Vader, modified 1 Year ago at 1/23/23 8:00 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 1/23/23 8:00 AM

RE: Ajahn Nanamoli Thero, is it a radical new approach to practice ?

Posts: 277 Join Date: 6/29/20 Recent Posts
Hello Nick

The stuff that he writes, if it helps you practice, then please use it. Please modify his advice for your life situation. You are presumably not a monk, so remember that and discard any of his stuff that is 'monkish'.

There is a certain attitude that sutra literalists carry, this attitude is limiting. People who actually get somewhere with practice do not stay sutta literalists.
People who stay sutta literalists either havent gotten anywhere with their practice - in which case they are incompetent. Or have gotten somewhere but need to fit  into an acceptable mold - in which case they are very mild about the sutta literalism. They dont talk like a monastic version of Jordan Peterson.

Many of these guys takes are misinformed, and come from delusion. He insists on Householders being incapable of being Anagamis and Arhats, conversely Anagamis and Arhats being incapable of holding a house. His sutta literalism pushes him into making these claims of which he has no personal experience. In terms of what can an Arhant or Anagami do or not do- the only advice that makes sense is 'ehipassika' - see for yourself. To make statements of the kind that he makes is demotivating, and basically reflects badly on either his competence or his honesty.

So take from his teachings only that which you can convert into a method, a technique and apply it in your practice. If his teachings cannot be converted into a method or a technique - discard them. Such is my opinion.
Nick Chab Chab, modified 1 Year ago at 1/23/23 9:01 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 1/23/23 9:01 AM

RE: Ajahn Nanamoli Thero, is it a radical new approach to practice ?

Posts: 14 Join Date: 10/10/22 Recent Posts
Thanks for your answer Adi Vader.
Yes, I like some of the stuff he explains. His take on peripheral awareness is extremely instructive imho and I actually use it now. He's a big proponent of using awareness all the time, guarding the senses old school type, resisting the pressure of the senses to act in order to avoid the unpleasant and get more of the pleasant. Remaining with the pressure and patiently observing how the mind reacts, it's a useful exercise I think.
I'll leave aside the so-called lay practitioner unability to reach3rd and 4th path as this is clearly not the case...
Chrollo X, modified 1 Year ago at 1/23/23 12:41 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 1/23/23 12:41 PM

RE: Ajahn Nanamoli Thero, is it a radical new approach to practice ?

Posts: 65 Join Date: 1/11/22 Recent Posts
I think where Nanamoli shines is around his views around "remaining with the pressure." Another teacher,  Stephen Procter talks about "de-addiction from vedana" which I think is similar to what Nanamoli talks about. I highly highly recommend Stephen Procter as a teacher. Here's his website: https://midlmeditation.com/
​​​​​​​
There is also a subreddit: https://www.reddit.com/r/midlmeditation/

Stephen Procter is very well practiced and leads people to 1st path with success. He also reads the suttas and is quite knowledgeable. 

Just wanted to mention him because he's a teacher you can talk to one-on-one and he has weekly meetings to help people practice and become clear on the way towards 1st path and beyond. 
Nick Chab Chab, modified 1 Year ago at 1/23/23 12:50 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 1/23/23 12:50 PM

RE: Ajahn Nanamoli Thero, is it a radical new approach to practice ?

Posts: 14 Join Date: 10/10/22 Recent Posts
Exactly ! His talk about enduring the pressure is indeed top notch ! 
Thanks I'll check Procter right now.
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Griffin, modified 1 Year ago at 1/24/23 3:15 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 1/24/23 3:15 PM

RE: Ajahn Nanamoli Thero, is it a radical new approach to practice ?

Posts: 271 Join Date: 4/7/18 Recent Posts
It's interesting how his writings have a close resemblance with TMI's distinction between attention and peripheral awareness (posted about that 4 years ago on Reddit).
I dislike his "my way or highway" attitude though. Also, he kind of openly despises metta and claims that original practice was just non-ill-will (seeing and removing aversion towards others, not cultivating a presence positive feelings).
Nick Chab Chab, modified 1 Year ago at 1/26/23 12:05 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 1/26/23 12:05 PM

RE: Ajahn Nanamoli Thero, is it a radical new approach to practice ?

Posts: 14 Join Date: 10/10/22 Recent Posts
Indeed his overall attitude is a bit off putting but I think it has to do with his eastern Europe origin as people from these areas often come first as a bit rough...
Anyway, his essay on peripheral awareness is indeed very interesting when comparing it to TMI's version !!
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chris mc, modified 1 Year ago at 1/28/23 1:22 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 1/28/23 1:22 PM

RE: Ajahn Nanamoli Thero, is it a radical new approach to practice ?

Posts: 57 Join Date: 5/31/12 Recent Posts
With respect, I don't like Nyanamoli's videos, he comes across to me as angry and a bit arrogant.  i've read comments saying that he's from serbia and this is just how some people from Serbia communicate, that I'm imposing a western view on an eastern style.  ok, fair enough.

But, I really like his writings.  I've read his book "Dhamma within reach" and a copy of his new book is currently in the mail on its way to my house.  I didn't enjoy his "Meanings" book, though may revisit it later.

I'm somewhat/fairly convinced that he's mostly correct.  That what he describes (renunciation, enduring cravings, right view, etc..) leads to the jhanas that are described in the suttas, as taught as part of the noble eightfold path by the Buddha.

Are the sutta jhanas the only way?  Is there another way?  Is a different "kind" of jhana just as good?  I don't know.  I can say that, overall, I believe Nyanamoli and others like Ajahn Sona teach what the Buddha taught - start with right view and follow the noble eightfold path and then right concentration = samadhi, and insights will happen on their own.  I'm a much more peaceful and happy and stable person now, than I was after some years of pragmatic insight practice without a focus on the rest of the noble eightfold path.  But this is just me, obviously, if someone else says the opposite, that they do strong absorption jhanas, or no jhanas at all just noting practice and they're doing really well then that's great and I'm sincerely happy for them.  But i still don't think that that's what the Buddha taught.

I also think Nyanamoli's and Sona's teachings require a serious lifestyle overhaul, in a way that most of modern Buddhism doesn't talk about.  It's fairly possible to do noting practice and maybe go on a retreat once a year and make progress.  But to do Nyanamoli's thing, you have to start from the ground up and really let go of the distraction and the craving and the sense pleasure.  I thought meditation and Buddhism was like - I'll meditate and then my life will fall into place - but now it seems like the Buddha's path is to more like if I get my life in order, then my meditation (jhana) will happen.  Anyways, check out Ajahn Sona too, for some similar content delivered in a less confrontational speaking style.  
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Jim Smith, modified 1 Year ago at 1/29/23 2:11 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 1/29/23 1:23 PM

RE: Ajahn Nanamoli Thero, is it a radical new approach to practice ?

Posts: 1651 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
chris mc
With respect, I don't like Nyanamoli's videos, he comes across to me as angry and a bit arrogant.  i've read comments saying that he's from serbia and this is just how some people from Serbia communicate, that I'm imposing a western view on an eastern style.  ok, fair enough.

But, I really like his writings.  ...
 


I think the difficulty with the video is that looks like he is enduring suffering ... rather than ending it.

I think both views have their place enduring/surrendering/accepting/welcoming/embracing and letting go. You have to endure dukkha to observe it objectively, you have to let it out, you can't observe it objectively if you are suppressing it, or denying it, or judging it, but when you observe it, in time you see it is something you are doing to yourself and you can see that you don't have to do it. This is the lesson of dependent origination. And if you don't let go you can over do the observing and get into territory where you are just reinforcing it by focusing on it. And you can even set up a feedback loop that makes it worse and worse - analogous to the first jhana but with misery rather than joy. Another pitfall could be to let out too much too quickly. Sometimes if a person has a lot of baggage they have been keeping bottled up, taking the cork off all at once might be too much. Some people would be better off at times going gradually, limiting their practice.

Finding the right balance between letting out and letting go is not easy. I think samatha has it's role (relaxation and tranquility and joy are among the seven factors of awakening), as well as vipassana (seeing how you do it to yourself (the lesson of dependent origination), seeing how the constantly changing sense of self is at the root of dukkha (a lesson of the three characteristics - impermanence, not self, dukkha)).

I don't know if it is possible to prefect 100% letting go of dukkha, but I think in theory it is possible, it's hard for me to imagine perfecting it myself but I don't rule it out for other people. There is a huge variability among humans so I can't comfortably say it is impossible for everyone.

And I don't want to judge Thero because I don't really know his exact situation so I will just say, not about him, but in general there are some emotions that have a biological origin like some types of anxiety and depression that are not going to be helped by mental techniques like Buddhist practices so that could explain why someone might be suffering even though they have the practice right. Someone could be awakened and also have a disorder like that and might not fit our expectations of someone who is awakened.
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Griffin, modified 1 Year ago at 1/30/23 4:34 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 1/30/23 1:20 PM

RE: Ajahn Nanamoli Thero, is it a radical new approach to practice ?

Posts: 271 Join Date: 4/7/18 Recent Posts
i've read comments saying that he's from serbia and this is just how some people from Serbia communicate

I live close to Serbia, so just a quick comment: this is an issue of individual temperament much more than an question of national mentality. I think Americans and western Europeans are (statistically speaking) somewhat more polite in their communication, compared to countries with lower standard of living and more painful history. But that is not much relevant when trying to understand an individual person.

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