Abhidharmakosha Study Retreat with Acharya Kelzang Wangdi

Advanced Curriculum

Course Code: BUD 682

Course Description: 
Join us online for Acharya Kelzang Wangdi’s fifth year of teachings on Vasubandhu’s Treasury of Higher Knowledge (Abhidharmakośa), based on the commentary by the Eight Karmapa, Mikyö Dorje (1507-1554), Friday, June 4 to Saturday, June 26, 2021. 

Acharya will begin by finishing his teachings on chapter 7 “Exposition of the Knowledges (jñāna)” that are the ten knowledges which range from conventional contaminated knowledge, through the knowledges attained on the path, up through the knowledge of an Arhat. He will teach the concluding verses (44c-56) that present the supernormal powers and emanations of Noble Ones and of ordinary beings who have practiced intensive meditation. He will then teach all of chapter 8 “Meditative Attainments” that presents the meditation absorptions or attainments (samāpatti) on the path. 

Acharya Kelzang will teach in Tibetan, with oral translation by Dr. Jules Levinson. The teachings will be presented online over a three-week period with two sessions a day.

The Abhidharmakośa consists of eight chapters that present the Vaibhāṣika Abhidharma, plus there is a ninth section that is not an integral part of the text, since it presents a stand-alone Sautrāntika presentation of the selflessness of persons. As a result, only the first eight chapters are taught in the curriculum of the monastic universities (shedras) of Tibet. Hence, Acharya Kelzang’s teachings on the seventh and eighth chapters will conclude Nitartha’s 25 year effort of teaching all the major texts of the shedra curriculum. Fortunately, Acharya Kelzang has agreed to teach the ninth section on selflessness of persons next year, in 2022, which will be part of Nitartha’s “Extended Advanced Curriculum” instead of being part of its “Core Advanced Curriculum.” 

Acharya Lama Kelzang Wangdi

Acharya Lama Kelzang Wangdi is the resident lama and spiritual leader of Kamalashila Institute, the European seat of His Holiness Ogyen Trinley Dorje near Cologne, Germany. Acharya Kelzang studied at the Karma Shri Nalanda Institute at Rumtek Monastery in Sikkim from 1989 to 2001, where he obtained a master’s degree in Buddhist philosophy and the academic title of Acharya. He began teaching junior students at Karma Shri Nalanda Institute already in 1995 and continued teaching there after graduation until 2003. He received many teachings from H.E. Gyaltsab Rinpoche, Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche, and Dzogchen Pönlop Rinpoche on the doctrine and the practice of the buddhadharma. In the early part of 2004 Lama Kelzang Wangdi went to the USA to teach at Nitartha Institute, where he continues to teach once a year. Acharya Kelzang also teaches at various other Buddhist centers throughout Germany, France, Austria, and Switzerland. 

These teachings are part of Nitartha Institute’s Advanced Curriculum and are related to the Mind and Its World III and Mind and Its World IV courses of Nitartha’s Foundation Curriculum, and to the Paths and Bhumis course of the Intermediate Curriculum.

Who can attend?
The course is open to all. However, given the specialized, detailed nature of these materials and the limited time, students who have not completed the Nitartha Institute intermediate curriculum are kindly requested to refrain from asking questions.

Acharya Kelzang Wangdi teaches for practitioners, so, while the material can be detailed, he regularly connects the material to practice. 

Required Text

Jewels from the Treasury: Vasubandhu’s Verses on the Treasury of Abhidharma and Its Commentary Youthful Play by the Ninth Karmapa Wangchuk Dorje, translated by David Karma Choephel, 2012, KTD Publications. This is based on the commentary by the Eighth Karmapa, extracting the commentary specifically on Vasubandhu’s root verses. We will be studying Chapter 7 pages 530-541 and Chapter 8 pages 543-586. You can order this text directly from the KTD Bookstore or on Amazon.

Class Topics

Chapter 7 Exposition of Knowledges  (jñāna)
The Superknowledges and the Four Foundations of Mindfulness, Their Moral Qualities, etc.

The Superknowledges and Their Actual Features: Classifications, Types of Emanations, etc. 

Chapter 8 Meditative Attainments  (samāpatti)
The Eight Meditative Attainments: Four Concentrations (dhyāna) of the Form Realm and Four Attainments/Absorptions of the Formless Realm

The Four Immeasurables: Loving Kindness, etc.

The Eight Liberations from Obstacles to Meditative Attainment

The Eight Perception-Spheres of Mastery: The Absence of Afflictions with Regard to Cognitive Objects

The Ten Perception-Spheres of Totality: Non-craving with regard to the Five Aggregates in the Form Ream, and Pure Meditative Attainment with regard to the Four Mental Aggregates in the Formless realm

How Long Will the Dharma Remain?

Optional Texts
You will find two other texts useful:

Chim Jampaiyang, Coghlan Ian, and translator. Ornament of Abhidharma : A Commentary on Vasubandhu’s Abhidharmakosa. [in English; Translated from the Tibetan.] The Library of Tibetan Classics. Somerville, MA: Wisdom Publications, 2018.

    * This is classic Tibetan commentary on Vasubandhu’s text that is renowned and used in all Tibetan traditions. We will be studying Chapter 7 pages 1038-1056 and Chapter 8 pages 1057-1133.

Sangpo, Lodrö (tr.), Vasubandhu. Abhidharmakosa-Bhasya of Vasubandhu : The Treasury of the Abhidharma and Its (Auto) Commentary. [in English] Translated by Louis de La Vallée Poussin, Lodrö Sangpo. First edition. ed. Delhi, India: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers, 2012.

    * This is an English translation of Vasubandhu’s root text and auto-commentary, with a helpful introduction and extensive, useful footnotes. We will be studying Chapter 7 pages 2247-2263 and Chapter 8 pages 2371-2437.

Costs and Registration
Students choosing to access the course online: $100 ($50 for Students and Seniors)

Please register here.

Due to the current situation, this course is offered online, including course recordings and any handouts available online. The lectures will be available in real-time webcast via Zoom with the option to view or listen to the archived lectures later.

Daily schedule
June 4-26, 2021 with Thursdays being the weekly day off
2 session daily:
from 8-10 am MT
and 12-2 pm MT