Dharma Study Group

The Princeton Insight Meditation Dharma Study Group meets on Sundays from 3:00 to 5:00pm via Zoom. Email us at info@princetoninsightmeditation.org for meeting details.

This page will always have links to the texts for the upcoming sessions, along with other materials and announcements for the course.

If you have questions about the group, please email us at study@PrincetonInsightMeditation.org

Here is the link to this week’s course materials.

Current course (starts May 14th): Two Kinds of Thought (Dvedhavitakka Sutta)

Princeton Insight Meditation is pleased to announce the next study program in our Sunday Dharma Study Group sessions: an in-depth look at handling wholesome and unwholesome thoughts. This course will start on Sunday, May 14th and last fourteen weeks.

We will cover the sutta “Two Kinds of Thought” (MN 19: Dvedhavitakka Sutta). A large passage in this sutta is identical to a passage in MN 4 (Bhayabherava Sutta, “Fear and Dread”), so we will be reading that text from the earlier discourse.

This is one of the few suttas in the Pali canon where the Buddha speaks about his experience before enlightenment so we get a rare glimpse of the Buddha facing the same challenges that the rest of us unenlightened beings face. The Buddha describes how he overcame the specific challenge described in this sutta and his purpose is to use his own example to teach us. In this particular sutta, the Buddha explains the way to overcome unwholesome (also translated as unskillful or unhealthy) thoughts and replace them with wholesome (also translated as skillful or healthy) thoughts. This is a guide to help us develop the second factor of the noble eightfold path i.e. right thought.

Each course session will include reading Bhikkhu Bodhi’s translation of the discourse; exploring the text in detail; doing practical meditations and exercises; and group discussions. All necessary course materials will be provided. You can find more details in the course syllabus.

This course is another in a series of in-depth studies of selected suttas (discourses) from the Majjhima Nikaya, or collection of Middle-Length Discourses. The Dhamma (or the teachings) is divided into five Nikayas (or collections). The Theravada school holds that all the teachings of the Buddha are contained in the suttas of these five Nikayas. Bhikku Bodhi especially recommends the study of the Majjhima Nikaya because, in his words, it “combines the richest variety of contextual settings with the deepest and most comprehensive assortment of teachings”.

Although typically such sutta study is undertaken by people with experience in Buddhist meditation, anyone who wants to get to the core of the Buddha’s teachings by working directly with the texts is welcome. As always, the Sunday Dharma Study Group is open to all. Newcomers are welcome to join us at any time, although the start of a new course is an especially good time to start.

Next course (starts August 27th): The Removal of Distracting Thoughts (Vitakkasanthana Sutta)

Princeton Insight Meditation is pleased to announce the next study program in our Sunday Dharma Study Group sessions: an in-depth look at the removal of distracting thoughts. This course will start on Sunday, August 27th and last seven weeks.

We will cover the sutta “The Removal of Distracting Thoughts” (MN 20: Vitakkasanthana Sutta). The title of the sutta in the Chinese Agama is “Discourse on the Higher Mind” which Bhikku Bodhi regards as a more appropriate translation (somewhat ironically since Bhikku Bodhi’s own translation is “The Removal of Distracting Thoughts”). The higher mind (adhicitta) is the mind of samadhi, a mind of deep concentration. The sutta describes five very specific and practical ways to help develop the higher mind by removing unwholesome thoughts. So if you are interested in developing deeper levels of concentration, this sutta is for you.