Buddhism and Sexuality

Critical examination of the relation of religion and sexuality with special attention to Buddhism. Discusses religious interpretations of sex, sexuality, and gender; the codification and normalization of these rules through texts, symbols, and practices; and recent challenges to these interpretations. Topics include homosexuality, same-sex marriage, abortion, contraception, gender equality, clerical marriage, married clerics’ wives, and clerical sexual abuse. Draws on religious theory, gender theory, and critical theory.

Tibetan Buddhism: Culture, Ethics, Philosophy and Practice

Introduces students to history, practice, culture, and ethics of Tibetan Buddhism; contents include overview of Indian Buddhist practice and ethics; historical overview of Tibetan Buddhism with a focus on connections between the construction of Buddhist ideal types (lama and yogin) and political power; Tibetan Buddhist Philosophy; Buddhist transformation of ethical, social and cultural forms, including the shaman/king and gift exchange patterns, and analysis of the function of lineage within the construction of Tibetan polities and social order; readings include textbook surveys, biography

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.