Miscellaneous Essays

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

Mostly these essays were first printed in one or another of the various Buddhist magazines, such as Tricycle, and have not yet been included into an essay collection such as Noble Strategy. (Note that there may have been some changes to the essays or their titles since publication.)

2021 Essays

2020 Essays

  • Becoming a True Person. The Buddha’s instructions for becoming compassionate and accountable. (Also available as pdf format, though without hyperlinked cross-references)

  • Meditators at Work. Meditation is an active rather than a passive process. (Also available as pdf format, though without hyperlinked cross-references)

2019 Essays

  • Safety in a Duality. The Buddha taught that a teacher’s first duty was to give the student a firm grounding in how to decide what should and shouldn’t be done. This article explains the importance of this essential duality on all levels of the practice. (Also available as pdf format, though without hyperlinked cross-references)

  • 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.