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Abhidharma Basics

The Abhidharma is perhaps regarded as dry and scholarly, theoretical. We will see. In any case, I would like to welcome those of you who are brave and willing to go into it. To a certain extent, you are warriors.” 

- Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche  

“Abhidharma” or “a higher knowing of what is” - is a body of profound, technically precise Buddhist teachings exploring the human mind’s wisdom and confusion. For many of us, exploring such teachings may seem daunting or inaccessible. Yet, familiarizing ourselves with some Abhidharma basics is more user friendly than may first meet the eye and applying such basics to our everyday life is central to the Buddhist path.  


In these five sessions we will:

  • Explore some core Buddhist principles such as: five skandhas, eight consciousnesses, eight-fold path, three poisons and others.

  • Learn and practice shamatha vipassana meditation and examine how this simple practice illuminates many of the Abhidharmic principles 

  • Consider how some Tibetan and Indian commentaries illuminate the multilayered wisdom contained in the Abhidharma teachings  

  • Discuss how such ancient teachings can help us engage our modern-day circumstances with skill, wisdom, and compassion

Course Outline


5 weeks January – February 2023 


The program will be conducted on Tuesday (6:30pm – 8:30pm East Coast time) and Wednesday (6:30pm – 7:30pm East Coast time) evenings beginning Tuesday January 17 and ending Wednesday February 15.  Tuesday evenings will focus on lecture & discussion and Wednesday evenings will focus on meditation practice.

Tues, Jan 17, 2023
What are the Abhidharma teachings and why should we care?

Wed, Jan 18, 2023

Tues, Jan 24, 2023
Unraveling confused mind through shamatha–vipassana meditation

Wed, Jan. 25, 2023

Tues, Jan 31, 2023
The five “heaps”, karma and working with emotions

Wed, Feb.  1, 2023

Tues, Feb  7, 2023
Discovering Buddha nature and stepping beyond duality

Wed, Feb.  8, 2023

Tues, Feb  14, 2023
Bringing the Abhidharma alive in everyday

Wed, Feb. 15, 2023

Suggested Readings 

It is highly recommended that participants familiarize themselves with the following two texts:

  1. Glimpses of Abhidharma By Chogyam Trungpa

  2. The Buddhist Psychology of Awakening By Steven D. Goodman


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