Course Description

450.684 - Introduction to Buddhism

Buddhism has been and continues to be one of the major global philosophical-religious-cultural systems because it provides a complete alternative world-view to other major global world systems. Beginning with instructional videos by Alan Watts and other prominent Buddhists, a brief survey of the literature and history of Buddhism will introduce the fundamental presuppositions and doctrines that guide the seeker on how to live fully, enunciated in a popular Buddhist devotional text, the Dhammapada, "the Path of the Teaching of the Buddha" which will be analyzed in class. An anthology of Buddhist texts representing the Theravada and Mahayana schools, the two major sects within historic Buddhism, will introduce the rich discourse within global Buddhism on the meaning of the Dhammapada. Peter Harvey's An Introduction to Buddhist Ethics will be a resource to supplement lectures. Students will be expected to respond to readings, videos and lectures in two short (3-4 pages) essays on topics of their choice, and a research project (12-15 pages) from a short list of topics. The last class will be reserved for brief (10 minute) presentations of the student research papers.