Netherlands, Amsterdam

Buddhism and Psychology

when 8 July 2017 - 22 July 2017
language English
duration 2 weeks
credits 3 ECTS
fee EUR 1000

This course addresses "modern" and "Western" interpretations of Buddhism. Students explore major Buddhist theories, doctrines, and their global resonance and consider the epistemic paradoxes of modernist concepts such as "consciousness" or "immediate experience" in Buddhism. In doing so, they experience a rare journey of self-discovery, touching on the very core of modern self-understanding in "the West" and fundamentally revising or reframing modernist assumptions of Buddhism.

Course leader

Dr. Henk Blezer

Target group

Students of the humanities and social sciences, particularly those interested in Religious Studies, Psychology or Asian Studies.

Course aim

You will become familiar with some of the major Buddhist theories and doctrines which have invited the hermeneutical rapprochement with psychology.
You will understand the framing of Buddhism in psychological terms and its background, and also resonance, in modern Asia.
You will become familiar with the complex relationships of psychological readings of Buddhism with their matrices in Buddhist modernisation movements in Asia and their reception history of Buddhism outside Asia.
You will understand how things appear “in the eye of the beholder”, appreciating how the receiving cultures influence this curious marriage of convenience between Buddhism and psychology and how global modernity tends to “psychologize” the sacred and to “sacralize” psychology.
You will understand the problematic nature of patently modernist concepts such as ‘consciousness’ or ‘immediate experience’ in Buddhism, and are able to articulate the inherent epistemic paradoxes.
Throughout you demonstrate the ability to navigate the problematic of first and third person approaches in academia.

Credits info

Contact hours: 45

Fee info

EUR 1000: The tuition fee includes an airport pick-up service, welcome goodiebag, orientation programme, on-site support, 24/7 emergency assistance, and a transcript of records after completion of the course.

An early bird discount of €150 is available for students who apply before 15 March, and students from VU Amsterdam as well as from exchange partner universities will receive a €250 discount. You apply for the discount simply by indicating that you are currently a student at VU Amsterdam or at a partner university in the online application.

All courses include excursions. We will also organize trips and excursions as part of our social programme, which is a great way to get to know your fellow students and learn more about Amsterdam and the Netherlands. The social programme is not included in the tuition fee.

Furnished accommodation is available. Various housing options will be offered.


The Amsterdam Summer School offers ten scholarships that cover the full tuition fee of one course. Information about how to apply for the scholarship will be posted on the VU Amsterdam Summer School website.

Register for this course
on course website