Introduction to Chinese Buddhism
M,W, F: 1:45-2:50
Office hours: M, W 3-4, or by appointment
X-hr: Th 1:00-1:50
Thornton Hall 208A
Buddhism originated in India and spread through Asia to become the religion of the majority of people
in China, Japan, Tibet and South East Asia. With different local forms and a bewildering array of
practices, Buddhism is evidence for the great religious creativity of humankind. What makes
Buddhism such an attractive religion to so many people of different cultures?
This course focuses on the integration and development of the Buddhist tradition in China. In
particular, we will look at the ways Buddhism shaped and was in turn shaped by Chinese culture. Our
investigation will include Buddhist traditions which arose in China, such as Pure Land, Chan (better
known as Zen, its Japanese name), reverence of Bodhisattva Guanyin, and the Ghost Festival. These
ideas and practices remain at the core of present–day Buddhist practices in China and East Asia.
Grading will be based on active participation in class (10%), TWO short written assignments (2x20%),
a midterm exam (20%) and a final exam (30%).
Lopez, Donald S.
The Story of Buddhism: a concise guide to its history and teachings
Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 2002.
McRae, John R.
Seeing Through Zen: Encounter, Transformation, and Geneology in Chinese Chan
. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003.
Teiser, Stephen F.
The Ghost Festival in Medieval China
. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1988.
Watson, Burton (translator).