March 2011 Archives

Buddhism - Day #7

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We'll finish up the film today.

Kundun
: This is a film of the early years of the Dalai Lama made by Martin Scorcese. If you want a little background on the film, here's one review of the work. Here's what "Rotten Tomatoes" has to say.



HOMEWORK for next time (which is a couple weeks from now...)

The Buddhism Blog Entry should be ASAP.

The Buddhism Short Essay questions are posted, and they will be due on Thursday, April 7th.

Remember that the Independent Assignments schedule is posted for the remainder of the semester.

If you are bored, start reading in the Judaism chapter from Huston Smith's The World's Religions. We'll pick that up after break.


Buddhism - Day #6

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"If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion." - Dalai Lama

If you were out Thursday: I will get you a copy of the Buddhism multiple choice "quiz." It would be great if I got that back on Wednesday.

Kundun: This is a film of the early years of the Dalai Lama made by Martin Scorcese. If you want a little background on the film, here's one review of the work. Here's what "Rotten Tomatoes" has to say.


HOMEWORK for Buddhism - Day #7

The Buddhism Blog Entry should be made by Wednesday, March 16th.

The Buddhism Short Essay questions are posted, and they will be due on Thursday, April 7th.

If you are bored, start reading in the Judaism chapter from Huston Smith's The World's Religions. We'll pick that up after break.


Buddhism - Day #5

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Today is sort of a "bonus" day on the Buddhism unit. I'm changing up the schedule a bit, since it appears we'll have our guests come AFTER break for Buddhism.

I've decided to wait and do the film, Kundun, on Monday and Wednesday of next week. That makes more sense to me than going Thursday/Monday. 

I've also updated the Independent Assignments schedule for the remainder of the semester:

  • Watching It OR Read About It - April 11th (NOTE that you do ONE.)
  • Talking About It - April 25th
  • Experience It - May 9th
  • Taking a Position - May 23rd

First, I've got a handful of articles looking at Buddhism in a number of countries around the world. We'll have you look at one of them and share some impressions.

Second, we can do any Buddhism review that you would like to do.

Third, we'll have you take the Buddhism Multiple Choice quiz. (NOTE: Since my original plan was to send this home with you next Monday, I will allow you to access information in your text and/or online for this. In other words, it is open notes/resources.)

Fourth, you are welcome to use the remaining time to complete a blog entry or begin work on your Buddhism short essays.


HOMEWORK for next sessions - Monday, March 14th

The Buddhism Blog Entry should be made by Wednesday, March 16th.

The Buddhism Short Essay questions are posted, and they will be due on Thursday, April 7th.

If you are bored, start reading in the Judaism chapter from Huston Smith's The World's Religions. We'll pick that up after break.


Buddhism - Day #4

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"I think I am a reflection, like the moon, on water. When you see me, and I try to be a good man, see yourself " - Tenzin Gyatso (Dalai Lama) 

In preparation for watching the film Kundun the next two sessions, we'll take a look at the topic of Tibetan Buddhism today. I've also got a clip from Huston Smith that I will show you as well.


Tibetan Buddhism

Defining terms: King Songstan, Atisha, yana, Vajrayana, lama, Tantra, upaya, mantra, mudras, mandalas


Modern Tibet: The "Land of the Snows"- The Communist government of China overran Tibet in 1949-1951, beginning decades of hostile occupancy. In 1959, the unsuccessful Tibetan National Uprising occurred. The Dalai Lama and his government fled into exile in India, where they remain yet today.


Questions for Investigatio
n: Use the Internet resources below, and feel free to look around elsewhere as well.

  • What has been China's policy toward Buddhism in Tibet?
  • What have been Amnesty International's chief human rights concerns in Tibet?
  • What has been American policy on the issue of Tibet? What should it be?

  • What role has the Dalai Lama played in international relations and human rights?
  • Who is the Karmapa?
  • Who is the Panchen Lama? What has happened to the Panchen Lama at the hands of China's government?


HOMEWORK for next session - Thursday, March 10th

Continue reading in the Buddhism chapter of Huston Smith's The World's Religions.

The Buddhism Blog Entry should be made by Wednesday, March 16th.

The Buddhism Short Essay questions are posted, and they will be due on Thursday, April 7th.


Blog Entry #3 - The World's Religions - "Buddhism"

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We can use the blog to hold "conversations" about reading in Huston Smith's The World's Religions. We'll certainly talk about some of the readings in class, but this gives you another chance to share your ideas. You may respond to one or more of the questions, and you can also react to comments posted by others. I'll expect a comment of one good paragraph or more. (To me, that means 5-6 sentences at a minimum.) You do not need to worry about perfect grammar, spelling and punctuation, but they should be understandable. Remember that this is a public site, and you are responsible for the content of your postings.

Assume that each comment is worth 5 points. (5 points for solid or better comments, 4 for comments somewhat short of expectations, 3 or fewer for last-minute, little to no effort postings, and no points for those who have not posted.)

All posts should be made to this blog entry NO LATER than the beginning of class time on Wednesday, March 16th to be considered on time.


1. Based on your reading, what is the most appealing or intriguing feature of Buddhism? What seems most difficult to accept or understand?

2. Siddhartha Gautama's search for enlightenment begins with his confrontations with the realities of sickness, old age, and death. Is personal crisis a necessary prelude to spiritual exploration?

3. The first noble truth of Buddhism holds that life is suffering and that even our most blissful moments hold a subtle residue of unhappiness. Is this an accurate description of the human condition?

4.Buddhists include "right livelihood" among the Eightfold Path. Are certain professions incompatible with spiritual growth? Are some jobs more conducive to enlightenment that others? Why or why not?

5. According to Einstein, the most important question that can be asked is, "Is the universe a friendly place or not?" How do Buddhists answer that question? How would you answer it?


These questions are excerpted from Understanding the World's Religions: A Study Guide to Huston Smith's The World's Religions by Gary Kowalski.

Buddhism - Day #3

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"To grasp Zen, you must experience it. ...
You should withdraw inwardly
and search for the ground upon which you stand;
thereby you will find out what Truth is. "- Ummon


REMINDERS: Your Hinduism short essay responses are officially past due if I do not have them.

I posted the Buddhism blog entry and that should be taken care of by Wednesday, March 16th.


THERAVADA and MAHAYANA BUDDHISM

We can review anything that has you puzzled or confused from the time you spent last class period on the two major forms of Buddhism.

Defining terms: Asoka, Mahayana, Theravada (Hinayana), arhat, boddhisattva, Sangha


ZEN BUDDHISM

Ideally, you should making good progress in the Buddhism chapter in Huston Smith's The World's Religions by next Monday. The pages that contain today's information on Zen Buddhism are 128 through 139. The reading schedule actually has you finishing the chapter early next week. If you're not there yet, please keep going.

We'll start with showing you the Buddhism excerpt from Huston Smith's Wisdom of Faith series... It shares his personal experience with Zen Buddhism. I think it is a good starting point.


Basics of Zen Buddhism:

Defining terms: Zen, ch'an, "Flower Sermon", Bodhidharma, zazen, koan, kensho, sanzen, satori

* zazen- "seated meditation"
* koan- problems or questions designed to agitate the mind
* sanzen- interplay between master and student
* kensho- "True Thusness"- bursts of enlightenment
* satori- enlightenment, unity of all existence


Frequently Asked Questions from alt.zen is a nice, basic introduction to Zen. Several basic questions are asked and answered.

ZenGuide claims to be the "Ultimate On-Line Resource" on Zen Buddhism. You can browse their resources and judge for yourself...


Since Zen stresses EXPERIENCE as the only path to knowledge, today's lesson will minimize lecture and maximize experience. It is your job to give things a try and participate.

Daily Zen: You can get a daily Zen quote here. You can also access previous examples and even send someone a Zen greeting card... DO THIS: Send someone not in this class a "Zencard."

The Ten Oxherding Pictures is a classic collection of Zen art. DO THIS: View the collection of the ten pictures. See if you can figure out what the artist is trying to convey by reading the verses and studying the pictures. Who is the boy representing? What is the ox symbolizing?

Primary Zen Texts is pretty self-explanatory. You will find a number of usefulresources. DO THIS: Attempt to replicate the basics of Zen mediation by trying "How to Sit (Zazen)." It might help to try this with a partner or two who can take turns reading the instructions. DO THIS: An early Zen exercise it to simply count ten breath cycles. The trick is that you must return to 1 if any other thought enters your mind during that time. (Don't cheat. It takes most monks months to perfect this.) Try it a couple times.

The Gateless Gate is a collection of more than 30 koan. DO THIS: Browse through the collection reading at least a half dozen examples. Read and consider the commentaries provided. DO THIS: Try writing a koan of your own. Share it with the class.


HOMEWORK for Buddhism - Day #4

Continue reading in the Buddhism chapter of Huston Smith's The World's Religions.

The Buddhism Blog Entry should be made by the arrival of spring break, March 16th.


Buddhism - Day #2

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"Hatred does not cease by hatred but only by love;
this is the eternal rule."- Buddha


DAY #2- BASIC BELIEFS, MAHAYANA AND THERAVADA BUDDHISM

REMEMBER: Your Hinduism short answer "take home" exams are due on Friday.

Ideally, you would be through page 127 in the Buddhism chapter in Huston Smith's The World's Religions by the end of this week.  If not, you are a little behind at that point. Pages 119 through 127 look at the comparisons between Mahayana and Therevada Buddhism, and you'll make use of them later today.


The Eightfold Path: I asked you to take a look at this for today.

This is decent explanation of the Eightfold Path on the Web.

* Right Views
* Right Intent
* Right Speech
* Right Conduct
* Right Livelihood
* Right Effort
* Right Mindfulness
* Right Concentration


Basic Buddhist Concepts: This is a concise introduction to some of the core concepts. It is presented in a question and answer format for your convenience.

Defining terms: anatta, nirvana

* Do Buddhists believe in reincarnation?

* Do human beings survive bodily death?

* How does karma affect the lives of Buddhists?

* What is nirvana?


The Two Major Schools of Buddhism: Mahayana and Theravada

Defining terms: Asoka, Mahayana, Theravada (Hinayana), arhat, boddhisattva, Sangha

Resources to use in completing this chart: You download a copy of the chart below here. You can either print it out or complete it by computer.

You can make use of Huston Smith's The World's Religions- pages 119 through 127.

  • Mahayana Buddhism: This site gives you good deal of information on the Mahayana school of Buddhism.

  • Theravada Buddhism: Similarly, this site looks at Theravada (or Hinayana) Buddhism.

  • World Civilizations- Washington State University: This is described as "An Internet Classroom and Anthology." You might want to consult their sections on Mahayana and Theravada Buddhism.


HOMEWORK for Buddhism - Day #3

Please continue in your reading of the Buddhism chapter from The World's Religions.

Your Hinduism short answer "take home" exams are due Friday.

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