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The Abhidhamma: A Study of Consciousness (Online Course)

January 11, 2021 - February 7, 2021

The Abhidhamma: A Study of Consciousness

A Four Week Online Course | Starts January 11, 2021

Study one of the most profound ancient ‘sciences’ of consciousness – the Abhidhamma Pitaka. This ‘basket’ of teachings brings detailed analysis to mental and physical phenomena.

The CourseRegistration
abhidhamma study consciousness

Studying the Abhidhamma

The Abhidhamma Pitaka is the third division of the Buddhist Tripitaka, the Three Baskets. The seven books of the Abhidhamma Pitaka give an extraordinarily detailed analysis of the basic natural principles that govern mental and physical processes.

As human beings, our consciousness is built to awaken.  Our awakening is supported by the universe – the Abhidhamma Pitaka gives us an understanding of the mind and body in a profoundly detailed manner.

The [Online] course went beyond my expectations, I feel I learned a lot of new things or new ways of seeing things. The teachers have an incredible way of presenting the themes in a way that makes it easy to understand. They also make the teachings fun and suggest exercises so that you can apply them in your life.

Irene Arriaza

I was expecting to get pearls of wisdom and I always get far far more. The  teachings always speak directly to me. It is uncanny. It is like hearing a language that I spoke in some other life-form and suddenly it rings a bell. And bell after bell. Like a universal language that we all used to speak but have forgotten, and now as if a new pathway in the brain has opened up and the signals coming in are making sense! Directly from the cosmos via Doug and Catherine Sensei.

Renata Drtinova

Psychotherapist (Gestalt therapist)

The teachers of Planet Dharma [Online course] aim to provide opportunities to learn from age old teachings while including modern information as they are examples of continuing to learn about the fascinating, yet troubled world we live in. They help one to develop ideas how to help out society, live in society and contribute to themselves and others.

Daniel O'Brien

Author, Japan Series

Course Outline

Starts January 11, 2021

PLEASE NOTE to deepen and integrate your experience, we are offering three optional weekly Master Classes during the course and an at-home Flash Retreat at the end. See below for more details.

*Doug Sensei is also offering an eight week study group after this course for those who would like to go deeper with the Abhidhamma study. Tuesdays, 3pm MST, Feb 15-April 6*

abhidhamma tripitika

Credit: Burmese-Pali Manuscript. Credit: Wellcome CollectionAttribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

MON, January 11

Class 1

In this first class, we will introduce the Abhidhamma – what is it and what can we learn from it?

Then we will begin to investigate the four different types of consciousness: Sensing, form blisses, formlesses blisses, and transcendent. We will cover a definition of abhidhamma terms and discuss the roots of different types of consciousness. What happens in a thought process? How would we ascertain if they are ethical, neutral or unethical?

Finally, what factors are present in the blisses? Is there only one type of transcendent consciousness, or is there many?

MON, January 18

Class 2

In class two, we will observe how in each of the consciousnesses, there are different factors. What are they? What factors are present in what consciousness?

How does feeling relate to consciousness? Do different consciousnesses have different feelings? What are feelings? What are the functions of mind? How do they work? How do the senses connect to consciousness?

MON, January 25

Class 3

Class three covers Karma. We will explore how many kinds of karma exist and where do they operate? How does karma affect rebirth consciousness? What is death?

MON, February 1

Class 4

In the final class of the series we will look at the nature of form and transcendence. Using the laws of dependent origination we can study dependent arising, causal relations and attainments – what are these?

What is Mental Culture – how do you cultivate your mind?

Study and Meditation Electives

Master Classes

Three Sundays

There are weekly Master Classes (akin to online Q&A Office Hours) during this online course to support your deepening learning and practice, on the following dates at 3pm MST:

  • Sun. Jan 17
  • Sun. Jan 24
  • Sun. Jan 31

You can elect to attend all three or individual dates.

Registration & Dana links for Master Classes will be accessible to you when you register for the course.

Flash Retreat

February 5-7, 2021

Elect to deepen your practice via a Flash Retreat during the last weekend of this course.  The retreat provides practitioners a valuable opportunity to integrate and seal the learnings from the online course, in a format well suited for our contemporary lives.

The retreat will include instructions, online check ins, and a Master Class on Sunday, February 7.

We encourage you to attend this weekend retreat at Clear Sky Centre, or together with your local sangha, or if those not available to you, in your home.

Registration and Dana links for the Flash Retreat will be accessible to you when you register for the course.

Sangha power – consider organizing or joining regional in-person or online sangha groups to support one another during the online courses and Flash Retreats. 


Plus: Abhidhamma Study Group

Tuesdays at 3pm MST, February 16- April 6th

Doug Sensei is also offering an eight week study group for those who have taken this online course and would like to go deeper with the Abhidhamma study. Please register for this online course and you will receive further details about the Study Group.


Meet the Teachers

Catherine Pawasarat
Catherine Pawasarat
Doug Duncan
Doug Duncan

Doug Duncan and Catherine Pawasarat are Dharma and meditation teachers who founded Clear Sky Meditation Centre, BC, Canada.

Achariya Doug Duncan received lay ordination from Namgyal Rinpoche in 1978, and is a lineage holder in that teaching. Known for his direct, humourous and compassionate engagement with students, Doug embraces various traditions, contemporary psychology, and science, to mentor all beings to a more awakened state.

Catherine Pawasarat has trained daily with Acariya Doug Duncan since 1998 in an intensive spiritual apprenticeship that is rare in the modern West. She received lay ordination from Namgyal Rinpoche in 2003. In addition to Buddhist philosophy and its applications to daily life, Catherine also draws on generative living and the arts. With Doug she is co-founder of Clear Sky Retreat Center in the BC Rockies.

Course Details

Time and Location

Each of the four weekly classes in this online course will be video streamed live at 7:30pm MST. The recording will be available for one week after each class.

Study and Meditation Opportunities in addition to the classes include Master Classes on three Sundays at 3pm MST, and a Flash Retreat on February 5-7, 2021.

What Does the Course Cost?

We offer this course on the basis of dāna, as well as an admin fee of $100 (USD). The admin is to cover the costs of running these online courses – for equipment and software to provide you the teachings online.

For our teachings itself – You may have come across this is the form of “pay from the heart”. Dāna is a Sanskrit term meaning “generosity”. With dāna, we give as a mutual exchange of generosity. It’s our joy to offer this course, and we trust you’ll match our time, energy, and passion by giving an amount of money that feels good and healthy to both you and us. We suggest a range between $120 and $500 for this four week course.

Abhidhamma Study Group

Tuesdays at 3pm MST, February 16- April 6th

Doug Sensei is also offering an eight week study group for those who have taken this online course and would like to go deeper with the Abhidhamma study.  Please register for this online course and you will receive further details about the Study Group.


It has been sheer joy to be a participant in the Foundations of Buddhist Philosophy streamed classes. They made the practice come alive for me and accessible and pertinent to my every-day life. And of course, I always enjoy Doug and Catherine’s unfailing good humour which put a lighter touch on what can sometimes be a very dry subject.

Ronda Clanfield

Resources Specialist, CBC National TV News (retired)

Fabulous mindfulness teachers, presenting a variety of accessible tools for unfolding, in a mutual, community inspired way. It’s great that classes can be watched in person, virtually, or within a week depending on one’s schedule. Increase the awareness, compassion, wisdom, strength, and joy in your life!

Brendan Ries

Life Coach, Teacher and Artist, Conscious Money

[The online classes] are a fantastic tool for me to not get completely lost in Samsara throughout the year, especially because I don’t live in Canada and cannot be with the teachers so often. I still felt very connected and supported by the Lamas and Sangha. As a result I became much more aware of my state of mind than I would ordinarily. 

Andrea Netscher

Physiotherapist, Germany


January 11, 2021
February 7, 2021
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