Death and Afterlife
Overview of conceptions of death and afterlife in a variety of Asian religious contexts, such as Hindu, Jain, Buddhist, Shinto, and Daoist. Students will examine how religious communities conceptualize death and dying, manage the process of death, and re-create worlds of meaning, as well as how these implicate values concerning status, gender, and age. Examples of symbols explored include: Hindu rites of passage, Buddhist relic veneration, Chinese mummifications, Daoist thaumaturgy and funerary rites, Japanese Mizuko Kuyo (memorials for aborted fetuses), and others.
Introduction to Buddhism
Examining the doctrines, practices, and communal life of the Buddhist religious tradition. Beginning with the origins of Buddhism in India, its spread and transformation through Asia and to the West. Exploring the various interpretations about Buddhology, the meaning of Dharma and how it becomes embodied in practice. Studying the Buddhist perspectives and approaches to issues and challenges Buddhist face in the modern world.
East Asian Buddhism
Aspects of East Asian Buddhism, focusing on the Bodhisattva model. The development of early Indian Buddhism and its role in the debate between early Buddhist schools and the emergent Mahayana views. The role of this model in the hagiographic traditions of Buddhist monks, nuns, founders, and saints. Special attention given to the pantheon of Bodhisattva Savior figures, such as Guan Yin (Kannon), Dizong (Jizo), and Milo (Maitreya).