Brief Course Description

This course introduces students to Mahayana Buddhism. It explores the development of Mahayana Buddhism, its relationship with other religious traditions, and its influence on culture. The primary teaching method is experiential. Students will visit temples in China and/or Japan, have instructions by an abbot, participate in the monastic life, will meet scholars of Buddhism, visit holy sites, and participate in Buddhist worship. The students will spend three days in a temple, joining the monks in meditation and religious practice. In addition to this experiential dimension, the course will familiarize students with the history, scriptures, and beliefs of Mahayana Buddhism through readings from primary texts, lectures, videos, and class discussions. It will further analyze the Buddhist response to general topics and problems, such as the absolute, the notion of self, the problem of human existence, as well as soteriological and ethical issues.