Religions of the East (Section 1) [CRN 27389]

Discipline: Philosophy and Religious Studies
Instructor: Hackett
Credits: 3
Day: B
Start: 1100
End: 1220
Field Work: Day 2 | January 25, 2018 | Japan
Prerequisites: None Download Syllabus

This course embraces the major Asian religious traditions we will encounter on our journey. These religions provide values and ideals that are foundational to many of the countries we will explore. We begin by heading east to Japan and the religions of Shinto and Zen Buddhism. Onward to China and Hong Kong and the religions of Confucianism and Taoism. Southeast Asia then unfolds with the Mahayana Buddhism of Vietnam, Myanmar’s Theravada Buddhism and then to the heart of Hinduism in India. As our journey tacks westward to Africa we will explore the globalization of these religions and contrast and compare them with the traditions of South Africa, Ghana, and Morocco. On ship we will discuss within an historical framework the sacred stories, beliefs and rituals of these religious ways of knowing. Disembarking we will explore sacred sites and practices, and try to discern the place of these traditions in their adherents lives. Though the places will seem distant, the time remote, and the themes beyond space and time, if we take these religions seriously we may come to see their followers as people much like us with whom we share our global village.

Field Work

Country: Japan
Day: 2
Date: January 25, 2018

Nara is the capital of Japan’s Nara Prefecture, in south-central Honshu. The city has significant temples and artwork dating to the 8th century, when it was Japan’s capital. Deer roam in Nara Park, site of Tōdai-ji temple.  Daibutsu, Tōdai-ji's 15m-high bronze Buddha, is displayed in a large wooden hall. On the park's east side is the Shinto shrine Kasuga Taisha, which dates to 768 A.D. and has more than 3,000 lanterns. We will take guided tours of these major Shinto and Buddhist worship sites, where you will observe tourists and pilgrims. In addition, we hope to have conversations with practitioners as well as observation and—as appropriate—participation in ritual activities.
Learning Objectives:

  1. Become more closely acquainted with the nature, details, and meanings of Shinto ritual.
  2. Better understand how these reflect, sustain, and affect the elements of Shinto’s more formal belief structure.
  3. Study the relationship between architecture, worship and Shinto ideals
  4. Understand the relationship between Shinto and Buddhism in Japanese society
  5. Gain insight into the relationship between Shinto values and how these shape and are shaped by Japanese society.