Monday, August 20, 2018

Abhidhamma: A Psychology of Awakening

On Wednesdays there is a Mindful Meditation Group that meets in a small backyard hut behind the home of Peter Carlson (1818 Carrigan Avenue, Winter Park, 32789). I went a few times during a turbulent period in my life to quiet my mind. The  evening starts with an hour of meditation followed by a group discussion.

On this day Peter was discussing the Abhidhamma, which is a Sanskrit term that derives from the expression “concerning the teachings.” For the Buddhists however, the term means approximately “higher” or “further” teaching, and it refers both to the doctrinal investigations of the new scholastic movement and to the body of texts yielded by its systematic exposition of Buddhist thought.

Peter discussed a psychology of awakening, suggesting ways to connect the spiritual realizations of Buddhism with the psychological insights of the West. His white board had notes about universal conditioners, contact, volition, vitality, attention, and contact. The focus was on our will to do which is affected by our feelings and perceptions, seeing (very important to me), hearing, smell and taste. Though I cant claim to fully understand every point offered, it was nice to wrestle with larger concepts rather than keep going over the daily thoughts about how to survive and stay say inspired.

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