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date: 21 November 2018

Abstract and Keywords

This article argues that Buddhaghosa (fifth century ce), the chief commentator and systematizer of the Pali intellectual tradition, brings a distinctively phenomenological orientation to the study of Buddhist categories. He did not take Buddha’s doctrines, particularly the Abhidhamma, as metaphysical or ontological statements about what exists or does not exist, but rather as analytical methods for exploring and transforming human experience. The article demonstrates how his methods work in his treatment of four meditation topics, called the “sublime abidings” (brahmavihāras): loving kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy, and equanimity. These practices collectively depict Buddhaghosa’s phenomenology and psychology of love. They entail a rigorous therapeutic regime of practical methods aimed at bringing about freedom.

Keywords: Buddhaghosa, Abhidhamma, brahmāvihāras, Pali, freedom, loving kindness, joy, compassion, equanimity, Visuddhimagga

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