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Publisher's Summary

The Abhidharma, one of the three major text collections of the original Buddhist canon, frames the psychological system of Buddhism, explaining the workings of reality and the nature of the human mind. It is composed of detailed matrices and lists that outline the interaction of consciousness and reality, the essence of perception and experience, and the reasons and methods behind mindfulness and meditation. 

Because of its complexity, the Abhidharma has traditionally been reserved only for academic or monastic study; now, for the first time, clinical psychologist Beth Jacobs brings this dynamic body of work to general listeners, using practical explanation, personal stories, and vivid examples to gently untangle the technical aspects of the Abhidharma. 

Drawing on decades of experience as both a therapist and a Buddhist, Jacobs illuminates this classic area of Buddhist thought, highlighting the ways it can broaden and deepen our experience of the human psyche and offering profound insights into spiritual practice.

©2018 Beth Jacobs (P)2018 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"Beth Jacobs has the kind of mind that absorbs Abhidharma information and structure, combined with a lifetime of eloquent writing and clinical skills as a psychologist. The result is a unique treasure of a book and contribution to the study of Buddhism and mind." (Sojun Diane Martin, founding and guiding teacher, Udumbara Zen Center)

“Beth Jacobs not only reveals the essence of the complex and nuanced text of the Abhidharma but holds it lightly and turns it slowly so that we can see through it to a whole new view of ourselves and the world.” (Polly Young-Eisendrath, PhD, author of The Present Heart: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Discovery)

“A wonderfully unique, refreshing, and much-needed alternative to the seemingly dry, tedious, and endless lists that typify the vast Abhidharma literature. Beth Jacobs has given us a penetrating, thorough, and dynamically practical study, full of beautiful lived examples that clearly demonstrate everyday usefulness.” (Seiso Paul Cooper, author of The Zen Impulse and the Psychoanalytic Encounter)

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First reading isn’t enough

This is not Buddhism for beginners but, then again for someone who is truly open and ready one may find insight regardless of where they are on their journey. I had heard about Buddhist psychology many years ago but was never really drawn to learning more about it until now. Had I listened to this even a year ago, I would have gotten bored and confused. After one reading I realize that I will need to listen to this many times over to even begin to grasp what the Abi-dharma has to offer. One insight I did come away with is that since Karma happens at the midway point in the 17 steps to perception, it motivates me to focus even more in my meditation practice.