Buddhist Meditation: Cultivation Practices and Psychology

Buddhist paths and techniques of self-transformation in pre-modern and modern Buddhist cultures. Conceptions of the psychophysical person and goals of Buddhist practice assumed by these meditative techniques. Reinterpretation and modification of traditional meditation practices in contemporary Buddhist societies. Students who took this course as an 89S First Year Seminar are not eligible to enroll. One course.

Buddhist Meditation in Transformation: Historical, Scientific, and Medical Perspectives

An in-depth examination of the Buddhist path and techniques of self-transformation in various Buddhist cultures, both pre-modern and modern. The differing conceptions of the psychophysical person and the goals of Buddhist practice assumed by these meditative techniques will be investigated. As part of the examination of Buddhist meditation, students will have an opportunity to experience a range practices and to reflect on the role of meditation in the construction of Buddhist maps of human development. Not open to students who took this course as an 89S First Year Seminar. One course.

Buddhist Ethics

Survey of various Buddhist understandings of ethics, both classical and contemporary. How different Buddhist communities have responded to such ethical problems as the existence of evil, war, injustice, and suffering as well as contemporary Buddhist debates over abortion, ethnic fratricide, human rights, environmental problems, economic justice, and cloning. One course.

Acts of Engagement

Whether called “service,” “mission,” “Seva,” “loving-kindness,” “tikkun olam,” selfless acts done in the service of others are a component of many of the world’s religious traditions. This course will explore the fundamental call to serve in a number of traditions. It will examine the works of community leaders from various religious traditions such as Dorothy Day, Abraham Heschel, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Said Nursi to unpack the elements in their traditions that led them to work with and for others. Special attention will be paid to Abrahamic traditions.

Religion and Science: Biology, Minds, and Souls

The diverse interactions of religion and science from the Renaissance to the present. The profound transformation of pre-modern science by seventeenth-century revolutions and nineteenth-century discoveries; in turn, the transformation of society, including religion, by modern science. Some consideration of physics and astronomy, but major focus on the impact of Darwinian anti- teleology and modern biology, especially animal studies, on “natural theology” and traditional arguments from design.