A Course in Indian Buddhism:
no-self and non-duality

with Dr Georges Dreyfus
Saturdays, for 7 weeks from 9th July


We’re holding a new course in Buddhism, led by one of our great Bangkok resources Dr Georges Dreyfus. Periodically it’s great to go into these topics in real depth – more than we ever get to with ad-hoc dharma talks. You don’t have to be a scholar, but you do need to be keen:

  • for 7 Saturday early afternoons from July 9th – August 20th
  • free of charge (small donation to center is ok)
  • course covers the development of Mahayana view of non-self and non-duality
  • Saturdays 1-3pm
Dr Prof. Georges Dreyfus
Dr Georges Dreyfus a long time ago…


About the Course:


Buddhism underwent many changes since the passing of the ‘Sassada’, the original teacher. The commonly the well known division is Hinayana (or laterly rebranded Theravada), Mahayana, and Vajrayana – lesser, greater and diamond schools.

These developed however, in many stages, with varying interpretations of key areas of the teachings.

This course will introduce us to the main philosophical teachings of the Mahayana tradition as found in its foundational texts.  We start by examining the philosophy of no-self as found in the Abhidharmas.  We then proceed to show how the teachings of emptiness and non-duality can be found already present in all core Buddhist traditions.

To understand Mahayana as extensions of earlier Buddhist ideas we delve into texts by great Mahayana masters such as Nagarjuna, Asanga and Vasubandhu  Throughout the course, we examine the primary texts, supplemented with secondary sources.  In this way, we will be able to start developing our own understanding of these profound texts, which can yield rich insights into the fundamental tenets of the Buddhist tradition.



About the Speaker

Modern day Georges

Dr Georges B. J. Dreyfus studied for fifteen years as an ordained Tibetan monk in Tibetan monastic universities in India and was the first ever Westerner to receive the title of Geshe – the highest distinction of scholarly learning in the Tibetan system. This necessitated becoming fluent in Tibetan, leading to roles as a translator for several of the very great Tibetan masters of the era.

After leaving the monkhood, he completed a Ph.D in Religious Studies at the University of Virginia before joining Williams College where he is presently the Jackson Professor of religion.  His first book, Recognizing Reality: Dharmakirti’s Philosophy and its Tibetan Interpretations, (Suny: 1997), explores the Tibetan reception of Buddhist epistemology.  He has also written on Madhyamaka philosophy, co-editing a volume with Sara McClintock, The Svatantrika-Prasangika Distinction: What Difference does a Difference make?  (Wisdom, 2003).  His last work, The Sound of Two Hands Clapping: the Education of a Tibetan Buddhist Monk (University of California, 2003), reflects in a partly autobiographical mode on the education of Tibetan monks and the intellectual practices that foster this education.



This course is based on a longer university course  Georges teaches in the US. But with us you won’t be graded at the end! At a later date we will continue the course with him into more areas of Buddhist philosophy. There are readings for each week. Files have been attached. The chief book however is:

and so it is recommended you get this book. The discussion periods at the tail end of each class, will lean towards those who have done the readings. Many of the readings in fact, are only a few paragraphs long.


Week by week:

Week 1 : Saturday July 9th
No-self, an Adequate Interpretation of the Buddha’s Words?
No-self is a core teaching of Buddhism, but rarely gets the consideration it deserves. There is much poor interpretation of this concept.

  • Carpenter, Indian Buddhist Philosophy, pages 1-71, 93-116.
  • Warren, Buddhism in Translation, 117-133 [file];
Week 2 : Saturday July 16th
Mahayana, a new school?
Mahayana – was it the original teaching, or was it a later development? Are there any reconcilable differences in philosophy?

  • Carpenter, Indian Buddhist Philosophy, 72-78.
  • Siderits & Katsura, trans., Mulamadhyamaka karika, Verse 1 [file verses 1-10]
Week 3 : Saturday July 23rd
The Madhyamaka Critique of Realism
The idea of emptiness is found in early Buddhism, but was taken to new levels by the great Emptiness teacher Nagarjuna – a name that became almost as well known as the Buddha himself

Week 4. Saturday July 30th
The Two Truths and the Nature of the Madhyamaka Method
Emptiness was more than just a theory, or a form of debate – it passes into practicalities for the meditator, and is key to understanding enlightenment in the Mahayana perspective.

  • Siderits & Katsura, trans., Mulamadhyamaka karika, Chap 13, (same file as linked to in Week 3), 22, 24, 27 [file verses 22+]
  • Carpenter, Indian Buddhist Philosophy, 78-92; 
Week 5. Saturday August 6th
Madhyamaka as a Paradoxical Approach to Understanding Nature
Final week on the seminal teachings of Ngarjuna and their application – especially in the context of the wider Indiah philosophy of enlightenment that was also developing at the time.

  • Selection from the Vigrahavyavartani, 95-98, 107-114 [file] (you may ignore the auto-commentary and just look at the stanzas);
  • Dreyfus, “Can a Madhyamika be a Skeptic?”
  • Dreyfus & Garfield, “Madhyamaka and Greek Skepticism” http://www.littlebang.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/DreyfusGarfield-Skepticism.pdf
  • Carpenter, Indian Buddhist Philosophy, 198-214
Week 6. Saturday August 13th
Yogacara critique of Realism
Is the world made only of physical form (materialism) or is it only consciousness (idealism)? Buddhism also developed an understanding of these two outlooks on reality, most especially with the ‘mind-only’ Yogacara school.Resources:

  • Carpenter, Indian Buddhist Philosophy, 137-168;
  • Garfield, Vasubandhu’s Trisvabhava-nirdesha”
  • Anacker, trans., “Twenty Verses and Their Commentary” in Seven Works of Vasubandhu [file].
Week 7. Saturday 20th August
Consciousness and no-self in Yogacara Philosophy
Is the nature of the enlightened mind different to the normal mind? Is awakening different to unawakened? The discussion gets interesting as we move into the most slippery idea of all – non-duality.

  • Carpenter, Indian Buddhist Philosophy, 169-180.
  • Anacker, trans., “The Thirty Verses” in Seven Works of Vasubandhu [file];


Sign up



‘APARTMENTS’ Meditation Centre

The center is a 4 minute walk from Ekkamai BTS Station.

We are 9/37 Thana Aket, Ekkamai Sukhumvit 63.

Enter Ekkamai (Sukhumvit Soi 63). Turn left into the second soi (lane). Bourbon street restaurant is on the corner. We’re the third building on the right, in the ‘APARTMENTS‘ building. Go up to the top floor. See the excellent map – it is very precise!little-bangkok-meditation-center-ekkamai

One reply on “Course in Indian Buddhism, with Dr Georges Dreyfus”

  1. What a great opportunity. Newish I could be there to attend. Think I’ll follow along with the readings though. Got Dr. Carpenter’s book. Really good. I will look forward to hearing more on this.

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