The Philosophical Psychology of Buddhism

A Study Retreat in the Abhidhamma, with Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi 

 Last year, over the Labor Day weekend, Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi conducted a retreat on the Abhidhamma, the philosophical psychology of early Buddhism, in which he explored the first two chapters of the Abhidhammattha Sangaha, “A Comprehensive Manual of Abhidhamma,” the primary work for the study of the Abhidhamma in the Theravada tradition. The first two chapters presented the Abhidhamma analysis of mind and mental factors. This year, over the Labor Day weekend, Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi will continue to examine the Abhidhamma philosophy, focusing on the middle four chapters of the book. These deal with such topics as the functions, doors, and objects of consciousness (chapter 3); processes of consciousness (chapter 4); planes of existence and their relation to mind and karma (chapter 5); and material phenomena (chapter 6).

The earliest written teachings of the historical Buddha were written in the Pali language, a language similar to the one the Buddha spoke. Although the Mahayana sutras and texts often reference the Pali sutras (or suttas, in Pali), we are then hearing someone's interpretation of the Buddha's words.  I find it instructive to go back to the originals to see the richness that sometimes gets lost when we summarize the teachings.  There are thousands of Pali sutras, so this course will just be a beginning intro.  I have chosen sutras that I feel are particularly interesting, useful, or foundational for the teachings and expressions of the Dharma that came later.