Miscellaneous Essays

All of the essays on this page are by Thanissaro Bhikkhu, unless otherwise indicated.

Essays that have disappeared from this page are now available in one of the book length essay collections on the main ebook page.


2024 Essays

  • Thinking about Jhāna. What is the role of thinking in relation to the practice of right concentration? (To download a pdf with hyperlinked cross-references use the printer icon on the footer menu.)

  • Perception. On the meaning of the word, saññā, and on its importance in the practice. (Also available as pdf format)

2023 Essays

  • Everywhere & Always : The Buddha’s Categorical Shoulds. The Buddha characterized only two of his teachings as categorical: true and beneficial everywhere and always. One was the four noble truths; the other was the principle that unskillful behavior should be abandoned, and skillful behavior should be developed. This essay explores the implications of the second of these two teachings. (Also available as pdf format, though without hyperlinked cross-references)

  • Free the Dhamma. How the principle of dhamma-dāna —a gift of Dhamma— applies to Dhamma books. (Also available as pdf format, though without hyperlinked cross-references)



  • Neither Here nor There. The Buddha’s strategies for inducing his listeners not to focus their desires at any location at all, whether in this world or any other. (Also available as pdf format, though without hyperlinked cross-references)


2022 Essays

  • At War with the Dhamma. There is no way that a just-war theory could be in line with the Dhamma. (Also available as pdf format, though without hyperlinked cross-references)

  • The Heart a Flowing Stream: The Buddha on Ending the Āsavas. The three āsavas, or effluents, are tendencies that lead to rebirth. On the night of his awakening, the Buddha put an end to these tendencies in his heart for good. This essay discusses the approaches he recommended to his followers for ending their own effluents, and ways of motivating themselves to achieve that goal. (Also available as pdf format, though without hyperlinked cross-references)

2021 Essays

  • Antidotes to Anger. The Buddha’s tools for dealing with anger. (Also available as pdf format, though without hyperlinked cross-references)

  • Mindfulness of Breathing. Three talks on putting the Buddha’s sixteen-step instructions on breath meditation into practice. (Also available as pdf format, though without hyperlinked cross-references)

  • The Three Perceptions. A talk on how the three perceptions of inconstancy, stress, and not-self function on the path. (Also available as pdf format, though without hyperlinked cross-references)


2019 Essays

  • Talking about Nirvana. Although the Buddha refused to describe the arahant after death, he did provide descriptions of nibbāña (nirvāṇa) to show how it differed from the ordinary dimensions of the six senses. This essay explores the reasons for why he treated these two related issues in very different ways—and the implications that this differing treatment has for anyone who seriously practices. (Also available as pdf format, though without hyperlinked cross-references)


2018 Essays

  • Honest to Goodness. A discussion of how the Dhamma was originally taught and learned in a context of apprenticeship assuming certain qualities of character—both on the part of the teacher and of the student—and how those qualities are still an essential part of Dhamma practice. (Also available as pdf format)

  • Names for Nibbāna. Although nibbāna is indescribable, the Buddha had many names for it to suggest why it’s a desirable goal. This short article discusses five aspects of nibbāna suggested by these names. (Also available as pdf format)



2017 Essays


  • First Things First. (revised May 11, 2018) An essay on the primacy of the four noble truths as a guide to the rest of the path, determining the role and function of all the Buddha’s other teachings—including emptiness and the three perceptions. (Also available as pdf format)



2016 Essays


2015 Essays


2014 Essays


2012 and Earlier Essays


The following essay was collected into the essay book “Head & Heart Together,” however in abridged form. The unabridged version is still available here as a .pdf file.