Samvega (distress) in Early Buddhist Sutra Literature:
Mapping the Affective Ground of the Buddhist Path


The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Dissertation Fellowships in Buddhist Studies


Group in Buddhist Studies


This dissertation project focuses on the Buddhist treatment of a primal affective state called samvega - a Sanskrit and Pali term that covers a wide variety of feelings and moods, such as distress, fear, melancholy, agitation, disgust, and urgency. I intend to explore samvega and the matrix of terms surrounding it in the early sutra literature available in Indic languages and in early Chinese translations. I will also consult the relevant exegetical materials found in the Pali commentaries on the nikayas. My goal is to map what I call the "affective ground of the Buddhist path," that is, the terrain of emotions, moods, and feelings that Buddhists have considered to be preconditions for a transformative engagement with Buddhist philosophical ideals.