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.

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.

Ritual, Performance, and Religion

Exposes students to theories of ritual and performance (Turner, Schechner, Grimes, Geertz, Paden) in religious and non-religious contexts; compares contexts as a way of understanding common structures and what differentiates the religious/non-religious. Guest lecturers (from religion, dance, theater, psychology, English, visual and media studies, cultural anthropology) expose students to a range of approaches to specific kinds of ritual and performance. Possibly involves both class and individual trips to local religious events and performances for fieldwork exercises. No prerequisites.