Engaging the Abhidhamma with Tony Bernhard
January 13, 2024 @ 9:00 am - 12:00 pm PST
The Abhidhamma texts are an enigma to many Buddhist practitioners, but with familiarity they can become a potent tool for liberation. The seven volumes of the Abhidhamma form one of the “three baskets” or Piṭakas which – alongside the Vinaya (monastic rules) and the Suttas, (discourses) – collectively make up the earliest Buddhist texts. Although it is often regarded as scholastic and metaphysical, the Abhidhamma should be approached, not as an intellectual exercise, but as a practical and transformative meditation manual, designed to deepen our understanding of the mind and consciousness.
The Abhidhamma texts have been used in monastic communities as student training guides for over two thousand years. They provide practitioners with a comprehensive map of the mental and physical processes that shape experience. The texts themselves are written in a highly structured and technical manner, and its unique terminology offers practitioners a comprehensive framework for understanding the workings of the mind, consciousness, and the phenomenal world.
Most fundamentally, the Abhidhamma texts address the ethical dimension of experience, articulating in fine detail the mental factors that lead to suffering or to liberation from suffering. This class will concentrate on the fifty-two Cetasikas, the collection of mental factors that condition our conscious experience. Familiarity with the Abhidhamma generally, and the fifty-two mental factors more particularly, can promote new insight and become a powerful tool for transformation along the Buddhist path of practice.