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Publisher's Summary

Drawing on decades of experience, a psychotherapist and Zen practitioner makes the Abhidharma - the original psychological system of Buddhism - accessible to a general audience for the first time.  

The Abhidharma, one of the three major text collections of the original Buddhist canon, explores the critical juncture of Buddhist thought and the therapeutic aspects of the religion and meditation. It frames the psychological system of Buddhism, explaining the workings of reality and the nature of the human mind. Composed of detailed matrices and lists that outline the interaction of consciousness and reality, The Abhidharma explores 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 makes this dynamic, important text and its teachings available to general audiences, using practical explanation, personal stories, and vivid examples to gently untangle the technical aspects of the Abhidharma. 

Jacobs' work illuminates this classic 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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  • June
  • 08-11-18

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.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 12-04-21

Interesting mostly as an academic overview

I did learn quite a bit of Buddhist theory from this book. However, there is not much in the way of practical knowledge or advice. Buddhism really shines when practiced in the thick of real life, say, in one's family or at one's job. Therefore, unless one is academically inclined, I would recommend other books on Buddhist practice that provide tools directly applicable to the actual human experience as most of us know it.

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  • Lynn Yap
  • 25-11-20

Abhidhamma in Buddhist Psychology at its best !!!

This book really do give you an insight into the Buddhist world from the angle of psychology using Abhidhamma to explain. Good Book 👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻

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  • That Man
  • 02-10-20

Beth Jacobs v Jack Cornfield?

Beth Jacobs is no Jack Cornfield, but she has done her homework: she knows her stuff. And I loved trying to hear the wisdom and years of academic research that clearly went into this book. However, my Buddhist inclinations went out the window with the narration. Whoever it was, was so annoying. I knew we were in trouble when she quoted "Renee Maria Rilkee" (yes, the German poet, Raine Maria Rilke), and, throughout the whole recording referred to "cheedah" (that's 'citta' to you and me). I've had to learn to let go of my annoyance regarding the American pronunciation "Boooda", for "Buddha", but this time, I'm afraid it's yet another case of Audible not vetting their narrators, and allowing in people who simply can't be bothered to learn how to read and pronounce (specialist) words correctly. This applies equally to English readings of texts containing European words.

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  • Max
  • 06-10-21

A truly masterful understanding

A truly masterful account of what, at first view, may seem profoundly complex. A brilliant minded author making clear a masterpiece of world literature and philosophy

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  • Carl Magill
  • 05-03-20

Confused?...you will be

Nonsense to the average layperson...in my opinion. More confusing than helpful. Better books out there on this subject.