Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Ṭhānissaro Bhikkhu
Ajaan Goeff Dhamma Talk cropped.jpg
Ajaan Geoff giving a Dhamma Talk
Religion Theravada Buddhism
Lineage Thai Forest Tradition
Nationality American
Born 1949
Senior posting
Based in Metta Forest Monastery
Title Taan Ajahn
Rank Phra Racha Khana (Chao Khun)
Religious career
Teacher Fuang Jotiko, Phra Ajahn,
Suwat Suvaco, Phra Ajahn
Present post Treasurer, Dhammayut Order of the US

Ṭhānissaro Bhikkhu, also known as Ajaan Geoff (born 1949), is an American Buddhist monk. Belonging to the Thai Forest Tradition, for 22 years he studied under the forest master Ajahn Fuang Jotiko, who was himself a student of Ajaan Lee. He is currently the abbot of Metta Forest Monastery in San Diego County, California.

Ṭhānissaro Bhikkhu is perhaps best known for his translations of the Dhammapada and the Sutta Pitaka - almost 1000 suttas in all - providing the majority of the sutta translations for the reference website Access to Insight,[1] as well as his translations from the Dhamma talks of the Thai forest ajahns. He has also authored several dhamma related works of his own, and has compiled study guides of his Pali translations.[2]


Ajaan Geoff going on almsround

Ṭhānissaro Bhikkhu was born Geoffrey DeGraff in 1949 and was introduced to the Buddha's teaching on the Four Noble Truths as a high schooler, during a plane ride from the Philippines.[2] After graduating in 1971 with a degree in European Intellectual History from Oberlin College, he travelled to Thailand, where he practiced meditation under Ajaan Fuang Jotiko, who had studied under Ajaan Lee. He was ordained in 1976 at Ajaan Lee's Wat Asokaram, where Ajaan Lee's nephew, Phra Rajvarakhun (Samrong Gunavuddho), served as preceptor for his ordination. Later, he took residence at Wat Dhammasathit in Thailand, where he continued studying under Ajaan Fuang.[3]

Before Ajaan Fuang's death in 1986, he expressed his wish for Ajaan Geoff to become abbot of Wat Dhammasathit. Some time after his teacher's death, Ajaan Geoff was offered the position of abbot, but with "strings... attached" and no authority since he was a Westerner in a monastery founded by and for Thai monks. Instead of taking that position, he travelled to San Diego County in 1991, upon request of Ajaan Suwat Suvaco, where he helped start Metta Forest Monastery.[2] He became abbot of the monastery in 1993.[3] In 1995, Ajaan Geoff became the first American-born, non-Thai bhikkhu to be given the title, authority, and responsibility of Preceptor (Upajjhaya) in the Dhammayut Order. He also serves as Treasurer of that order in the United States.

In 2009, Ajaan Geoff replied to another senior buddhist monk with a letter containing interpretations on the Vinaya questioning the validity of a recent bhikkhuni ordination.[4] The letter was met with dispute by nuns and monks such as Ayya Tathaaloka, Bhikkhu Bodhi, Ayya Sudhamma Bhikkhuni, Ajahn Brahm and Ajahn Sujato.[5]


Thanissaro Bikkhu's publications include:[6]

  • Translations of Ajahn Lee's meditation manuals from the Thai
  • Handful of Leaves, a five-volume anthology of sutta translations
  • The Buddhist Monastic Code, a two-volume reference handbook on the topic of monastic discipline
  • Wings to Awakening, a study of the factors taught by Gautama Buddha as being essential for awakening
  • The Mind Like Fire Unbound, an examination of Upādāna (clinging) and Nibbana (Nirvana) in terms of contemporary philosophies of fire
  • The Paradox of Becoming, an extensive analysis on the topic of becoming as a causal factor of dukkha (suffering)
  • The Shape of Suffering, a study of patittasamuppāda (dependent co-arising) and its relationship to the factors of the Noble Eightfold Path
  • Skill in Questions, a study of how the Buddha's fourfold strategy in answering questions provides a framework for understanding the strategic purpose of his teachings
  • Noble Strategy, The Karma of Questions, Purity of Heart, and Head & Heart Together, collections of essays on Buddhist practice
  • Meditations (1-5), collections of transcribed dhamma talks
  • Dhammapada: A Translation, a collection of verses by the Buddha
  • And as co-author, a college-level textbook, Buddhist Religions: A Historical Introduction

Aside from Buddhist Religions, all of the books and articles mentioned above are available for free distribution; many are online. Audio recordings of Dhamma talks are also given freely.

Some teaching locations[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions About Access to Insight". Access to Insight (Legacy Edition). Retrieved September 13, 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c Orloff, Rich (2004), "Being a Monk: A Conversation with Thanissaro Bhikkhu", Oberlin Alumni Magazine 99 (4) 
  3. ^ a b "Contributing Authors and Translators: Biographical Notes". Access to Insight (Legacy Edition). Retrieved August 31, 2010. 
  4. ^ Thanissaro Bhikkhu. "Vinaya Basis for Refuting the Recent Bhikkhuni Ordination" (PDF). Alliance for Bhikkhunis. Alliance for Bhikkhunis, US 501(c)3. Retrieved 26 August 2015. 
  5. ^ "Buddhist Scholars' Response to the Validity of Bhikkhuni Ordination," (PDF). Alliance for Bhikkhunis. Retrieved 26 August 2015. 
  6. ^ Bullitt, John (2007), "Thanissaro Bhikkhu (Geoffrey DeGraff)", Access to Insight, retrieved August 31, 2010

External links[edit]