Myth of the Self

3559-101:
Discipline: Religion Buddhism
Instructor: Waldron
Credits: 3
Day: B
Start: 0800
End: 0915
Field Work: Day 1 | Japan Download Syllabus

Buddhists famously deny an unchanging self (ātman), yet incisively analyze our sense of self-identity. In this course we will survey traditional ideas and practices of Indian Buddhism in dialogue with modern psychology, touching upon such topics as: the Buddha as Hero, meditation and the promise and peril of self-analysis, the cognitive construction of our collective reality, and processes of transformation.

Field Work

Country: Japan
Day: 1

In this field lab students will visit a Zen Buddhist temple in the town of Kamakura, one of the main centers of Zen practice in Japan since the 13th century. Specifically, we will visit the Kencho-ji, headquarters of the Rinzai sect and Japan’s oldest Zen training monastery. Students will receive a short introduction to Zen practice and will participate in a session of zazen sitting and walking meditation for approximately three hours. After exploring the exquisite temple complex, students will gather to discuss the experience over dinner in a traditional Japanese restaurant. Academic Objectives:
1. Students will participate fully in all aspects of the day’s activities and write a 5-7 page paper on their experience, analyzing the teachings and practices of Zen Buddhism. 2. They will learn how to apply insights gained from classroom readings and discussions to first-hand encounters with living traditions. 3. They will deepen their understanding of the relation between meditation practice and Buddhist doctrines.