What does genuine well-being and happiness mean? How can it be developed from within, largely independent of outer circumstances? How does one need to experience oneself and one's environment to be free from suffering? How does one need to behave to cultivate, support, and sustain this freedom? These and similar questions lie at the core of the Buddha's search for freedom from suffering, or, positively put, the human ability to develop genuine happiness and well-being. The Buddha's answers to these questions build the foundation of a yogic movement that has become one of the most important religions – Buddhism. However, the Buddha's answers themselves are very pragmatic, can be critically tested by everyone, and are connected to a method of cultivation of the mind-and-body (this term refers to Pali nāma-rūpa) that can be practised and developed, as well as integrated into all activities in life – namely, Buddhist meditation. These answers are summarised in the main teaching of the Buddha, the four noble truths, which explain suffering, its origin, its cessation, and the way to the cessation of suffering.
In Buddhist psychology we explore all dimensions of our lives from the perspective of the four noble truths: Why do we experience suffering, why in certain situations and conditions? How does suffering arise, what is its origin? Can we sense a way out of suffering? What needs to be done practically to go this way? The key point here is that, though Buddhism provides the meditative methods for the practical exploration of these questions, the answers need to be found by everyone him-/herself. The Buddha points out that if we can entirely overcome suffering, we will arrive at the same conclusions in life as he did. This needs to be tested by everyone him-/herself. Practical Buddhist psychology is about exploring, with the help of Buddhist meditative methods, what suffering and the freedom from suffering means for oneself. For many, or most, people it may not be possible to entirely overcome suffering in life, which refers to awakening. However, Buddhist psychology offers a theory and method that has been established and tested over more than two millennia. It is a psychology everyone can apply in one's life. In this way one can find out how one can fully develop one's potential to genuine well-being in life and to a deeper understanding of the characteristics of life.
My teaching of practical Buddhist psychology and mindfulness, based on Pali literature, is mainly built on three broad sources: The teachings of the suttas (the Buddha's treatises) that include key Buddhist texts on consciousness, experience, and behaviour, as well as important instructions on meditation; the systematic psychology of the Abhidhamma ('the higher teachings') that explores the subtlest dimensions of how the mind and body interact and create our subjective self- and world-views; and the commentarial literature, which includes two main Theravāda-Buddhist meditation manuals, the Vimuttimagga (preserved in Chinese and translated into English) and the Visuddhimagga, as well as commentaries and sub-commentaries on the Pali canon. Besides these main sources for my teaching of practical Buddhist psychology, I also integrate further Buddhist teachings (particularly Zen), and further teachings from Indian religions and psychologies (particularly yoga), as well as Buddhological, psychological, and medical research on meditation and ethics.