The Pali term Abhidhamma means higher, subtle or ultimate teaching (of the Buddha) or the ultimate truth. Abhidhamma is often described as the core features of Buddhist psychology, dealing mainly with mental phenomena and explaining how our mind works. The Abhidhamma is the third great division of the Palicanon, the other two consisting of the Suttas (discourses) and the Vinaya (ethics). Unlike the Suttas, in which the Buddha adapts his teaching to his audience and speaks in conventional terms and concepts, in the Abhidhamma, the Dhamma is presented from the vantage point of ultimate reality. All phenomena are analysed into their ultimate constituents (dhammas) which are defined, classified and systematically arranged and discussed. Students will develop an in-depth understanding of the Buddha's teachings of the mind and all its functions and structures within the more general knowledge of the Buddhism found in the Suttas. This course will survey the understanding of the mind (both mundane and supramundane consciousness), the qualities of mental functioning (distinguishing ethical and skilful aspects of mind from those considered non-ethical or unskillful), the causal and conditioned relations between aspects of mind, the continuity of consciousness from moment to moment, and the nature of unconscious and latent psychodynamic factors. In addition the psychological analysis of meditation, both the concentrative and wisdom aspects, will be presented.
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