on 9 March 2003
Ven Nyanaponika's analysis of the branch of Buddhist philosophy Abhidhamma is a truly remarkable reflection of his own understanding of the subject. Due to the very intricate nature of Abhidhamma, and also my limited ability to comprehend its depth, I personally find this book more of an inspirational guide to my alternative endeavours to understand Buddhism, for example, meditation practices etc.
A prominent feature that comes across throughout the text is Ven Nyanaponika's ability to analyse and to relate the teachings of Abhidhamma into a comprehensive frame of description.
I would also recommend another excellent book "Mindfulness in Plain English" (Ven Henepola Gunaratana) for a descriptive and simple introduction to the Theravada meditation techniques, which may help one to perceive the concepts of Abhidhamma in a more pragmatic context.
on 14 February 1999
Although my own practice centers around the Mahayana teachings of Tibetan Buddhism, recently I have found it very helpful to spend some time studying and practicing the older, more original approaches from the early days of the Buddhist tradition. In that regard, this small gem of a book has been quite a find! It deals, as the subtitle says, with "Buddhist explorations of consciousness and time" through a historical and philosophical account of the third set of the Buddha's teachings, the "basket" of wisdom. Although the subject matter is rigorously discussed from a philosophical standpoint, the book is anything but dry philosophy. Here, in enjoyable and fairly straightforward language, the author brings alive the fundamental Buddhist analytical and synthetical approaches for understanding of the nature of reality, and yet makes this potentially academic study reverberate wonderfully into such practical areas as the need for pure moral discipline, as well as pointing the way to more effective training in meditative tranquility and insight. I think this is one to keep on the bookshelf and re-read and study again from time to time as one's practice deepens, and it will also serve undoubtedly for me as a starting off point for a wealth of further studies, contemplations and meditations.
on 30 August 2011
I have found Nyanaponika's phrases at times difficult to understand, though I have some experience with buddhist thought and terms. Now, this may be a sign of actual confusion in the mind of the writer, or a sign of a truly superior mind with trouble coming down to earth. The text is not without its pearls, but it has put me off exploring the abhidhamma-pitaka for the time being, which should be the very purpose of the book. I have noticed also some statements which I take with a pinch of salt: That "only the buddha's teaching on mind keeps entirely free from the notions of self, ego, soul, or any permanent phenomena" (p.9) and that there exists "a subterranean flow of energies originating in kamma [or karma in sanskrit]"(p.29). I simply do not believe in karmic effects (or better saying, I do believe in volition conditioning the mind and action conditioning reality, but not in any mysterious, transcendent, or metaphysical sense) and certainly see no need to believe in anything "subterraneous", though as in most things the best position is that of agnosticism.
on 28 October 2013
Helpful, inpiring, profound, great, exalted, encouraging, real, stirring, written by someone who has a profound knowledge of the Dhamma.
The Teachings of the Buddha one has found to be a safe refuge from greed, hatred, and delusion.
May all beings be truly happy.
A clear explanation of the Abhidhamma can be found here-