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hal_roth3 - BROWN UNIVERSITY COURSE SYLLABUS Religious...

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BROWN UNIVERSITY COURSE SYLLABUS Religious Studies 0500: Theory and Practice of Buddhist Meditation Topic for 2007: Contemplation and Ethics Semester I, 2007-2008 Wednesday. 3:00 PM (Seminar) MWF 9 AM (Laboratory) in the Ashamu Studio Instructor : H. D. Roth Office : 1. EAS: Room 101, 341 Brook Street; 2. RS: Room 305, Steiger House, 59 George Street Office Hours : Monday, 10:45 -12:15 PM in EAS (until further notice) COURSE DESCRIPTION This course will examine the theory and practice of Buddhist meditation and its relevance for Buddhist ethics in historical and modern contexts. It is divided into two very large geographical units in which we deal with: 1.The foundations of Buddhist meditation in South Asia as preserved in the Theravada Buddhist canon, its Mahayana developments, and their relationship to Buddhist ethical thought; 2. The Mahayana philosophical developments South Asia and their relationship to the development of East Asian Buddhist Meditation and ethical thought. We will focus on Ch’an and Zen Buddhism in China, Japan, and the West. In each unit we read primary texts in translation that deal with various aspects of meditative and ethical practices in each of the traditions. In the Meditation Lab, we try out a variety of concentration techniques used in the meditative traditions we are studying in the weekly seminar. For example, when we study Theravada Buddhism we will try their practices of sitting while counting breaths, or paying attention to the feeling of the breath on the nose, or following the rise and fall of the belly while breathing. While studying Ch’an and Zen, we might try the practice of “just sitting” while paying complete attention to everything that arises and passes away within our consciousness or we might try concentrating on a problem ( kôan ) like Hakuin’s famous “What is the sound of One Hand Clapping?” COURSE PEDAGOGY This is the seventh version of a course on Buddhist Meditation that I initially developed under an American Council of Learned Societies Contemplative Practice Fellowship, one hundred and twenty of which have been awarded to American college and university teachers during the past seven years. The course combines the traditional “third-person” learning of a weekly two and one-half hour seminar with the novel “first-person” learning of a Meditation Laboratory.
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