Yoniso manasikara

I’ve called this blog Yoniso Manasikara.  It’s a Pali phrase that I learnt recently, during my stay at a Buddhist temple.  The phrase is comprised of two words:

Yoni (or yoniso) meaning:

  • womb, origin, way of birth, place of birth, realm of existence, nature, matrix
  • thoroughness, knowledge, insight

Manasikara meaning:

  • to ponder or
  • to take to heart

The combined terms have been defined as meaning:

  • proper, wise, or appropriate attention
  • skilful, wise, or critical reflection
  • purposeful, systematic and methodical thought

However, the phrase was described to me as meaning “the ability to be a good teacher to oneself”.

I have always aspired to be a good teacher to others, but had never really thought about being a teacher to myself.  My research into the meaning of the phrase revealed its strong connection with the notion of reflection, something that I am more familiar with.  Somehow, though, the idea of being a good teacher to oneself means a little more than the concept of self-reflection.  The latter seems to focus on self-as-student, whereas the former adds a kind of responsibility to be self-as-teacher.  I like the circularity of the relationship: self-as-teacher to self-as-student.

Yoniso Manasikara, by Buddha Art

There is a downloadable mp3 of a wonderful talk by Ajahn Pasanno about the importance of yoniso manasikara in meditation, available here.

Here are also some links to websites that discuss the concept of yoniso manasikara:


2 responses to “Yoniso manasikara

  1. Thanks Sam.
    It’s a timely introduction to the term.
    We are at an interesting time with Rita’s learning.
    She’s 6 now and so much more complex than before, yet simple still ~ she’s still a babe.
    What’s apparent to us is that now is the time that we encourage her to make the right decisions. We tell her now that we are not just her parents but we are her teachers and we will be teaching her things that she doesn’t necessarily like. We’ve also told her that to make it all easier and better for her SHE too must invest in teaching herself too. To do this, we’ve told her, all she has to do is be honest in the beginning, honest in the middle and honest in the end plus if she listens to her golden heart, she will hear what is best. Also, she’s encouraged along the idea that today will end and tomorrow is always new.
    It seems that Yoniso manasikara might be exactly the kind of relationship with self that we are trying to foster in our baby girl. So hard in a world where children are being taught so young about self-and-power, outer-self not inner self, stimulation not peace.

    AND hope your arrival to the west is smooth and cushioned.

  2. Pingback: thinking about it | dhamma footsteps

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