Buddhism – Jan. 8th
Large psychological component to Buddhism
Interdependent with philosophy
Will learn about self
Richard Gere is spokesperson who started foundation for Tibetan Buddhism
Set up garbage truck service – very important
Modern Buddhism linked to paths, development, and science
Gained dignity from low caste by becoming Buddhist – became Dalits and gained power within
Who is enlightened?
Siddhartha Gautama became a Buddha Buddha is a respectful title – not a name
Means “awakened one” or “enlightened one”
What does is mean to be enlightened? What is one awakened to?
Indra Net – interconnectedness of all things
Seems counterintuitive in modern age – these things can give us pleasure or comfort
Awakening to truth
Is there such a thing as the truth?
In some ways, Buddhism is modern in sense where there is a truth
In some ways it is postmodern in the sense that there isn’t
There are many schools or sects or paths of Buddhism
Every religion has schools
E.g. Christianity: Roman Catholic, United, Orthodox, Evangelical, Protestant, etc.
Elements of Christianity:
These elements are all also found in Buddhism Different schools have different views on truth
Truth cannot be pinpointed, but that is what the Buddha awakens to
Must look at in critical way
Is this truth “true”?
Can we experience it?
You CAN become a Buddha
What does it mean to be a Buddha?
If everyone CAN do it, why don’t they?
How does one become a Buddha?
When Siddhartha took his great departure, he set a lot in motion
This was a performative action
He is not a saviour per say, but his actions created a paradigm to help people save themselves
There is only one Jesus in Christianity – one cannot become Jesus – fundamental difference
between Buddhism and Christianity
Anyone can become a Buddha through meditation, experience, enlightenment, truth, philosophy,
Why doesn’t everyone do it?
Nonattachment can be very frightening
Hard to become awakened because we have tons of attachments
At the root of attachment is desire which basically drive our lives – instinct
Deep in our subconscious
May lie deep in our biology
Attachment theory is very primal and instinctual The Buddha left his wife and newborn child and renounced desire and attachment in order to
become a Buddha
The human mind is absolutely capable of enlightenment, but it is very uncommon for the above
Desire ▯ Karma
Law of cause and effect, action and reaction
We build neural pathways of repetitive behaviour (e.g. sitting in same seat in class every week)
Karma: what does around comes around
Attachment is biological as well as emotional
Buddhism is about slowing things down through meditation practices to understand who we are
Who we think we are is not who we are
Siddhartha was just like us with flaws and attachments – only became prototype when he became
Type of mediation practice
Technique to attain enlightenment
Mindfulness meditation is very popular in contemporary Buddhism
Mindfulness meditation may reduce high blood pressure (symptom of kidney failure)
Also good for stress, depression, attention deficit, etc.
In modern times, modern meditation has been separated from context/history and used as secular
practice in areas such as medicine
Cultural Perspectives on Buddhism:
What countries have most Buddhism presence over time and place? India
Siddhartha was born in Nepal and attained enlightenment in India
Singapore ▯ Daoism
West – North America
Must discuss political dimensions of religion and relationships between Buddhism in different
countries (e.g. Tibetan compared to Chinese Buddhism)
Dalai Lama – figurehead with certain level of enlightenment
Introductory course on Buddhism
Teachings (dharma) and practices of Buddhism
Practices of monks
Three major schools of Buddhism – history, development, and spread
Three Turnings of The Wheel of Dharma Hinayana (Small Vehicle)
Yana = Vehicle
Spread to southeast Asia (Theravada)
Mahayana (Great Vehicle)
East Asia China, Japan
Vajrayana (Diamond or Thunderbolt Vehicle)
North Asia – e.g. Tibet
Sanskrit and Pali will be used foreign terms
Historical Sakyamuni Buddha and Siddhartha Gautama’s life
Context is important – place and time
There are other realms of Buddhism cosmology beyond this one
There are other Buddha’s in those other realms
In the West, we get combinations of Buddhist schools
In the East, different areas follow different schools
E.g. Sri Lanka and Thailand follow one school while China and Japan follow another One of the fastest growing religions in the world
It is a conversion religion
Buddhists go out to spread the dharma
3 conversion religions:
Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism
They bring people from other religions and secular communities into their own
Buddhism is the earliest conversion religion – 6 century BCE
How does Buddhism spread?
Not by war, crusades, etc.
By meditation? Possibly.
By quirky beliefs and practices? Possibly
How Buddhism changes over time is the core of this course
History of Buddhism – 2600 years
Philosophical, social, and historical developments
Implications of social aspects (e.g. gender, bringing Buddhism into prisons, ecology, ethics, etc.)
Buddhism in modern day context
Modern thinkers – Dalai Lama
Who is out there today spreading Dharma?
Essay 1012 pages due 2 days after classes end (April 4 ) th
Worth 35% of final grade
Topic of my choice
Essay, multiple choice and fillintheblanks
Meditation Field Research Assignment
Kuluta Buddhist Center – 182 Wellington St.
Meet 7:15 on Tuesday mornings
For 4 weeks, we will start at 9:00am
Will attend two meditation sessions
2 page (double space) journal for each session
Not descriptive journals – should be critical participant observer study
Link what we are learning to experience – compare historical and philosophical approach to
Worth 20% of grade
Due March 19 th
Final inclass quiz on April 2
Worth 10% Multiple choice and fillinblanks
Movie Suggestion (If I can find it): Yes Sir Madam OR Yes Madam Sir
About how mindfulness meditation has transformed the worst prisoners in India
What can hold for 2600 years?
The mind of the Buddha is as relevant today as it was back then
The truth that the Buddha discovered is still true
The awakening is still true today – how can one thing be so true for so long when nothing else
seems to be?
*****Creative projects allowed instead of final essay (but they go along with written component)
E.g. Write songs (give concert), pottery, board game, films, etc.
Introductory background to Buddhism:
What kind of