This course is an introductory survey of the major religious traditions of Asia—including Hinduism, Buddhism (both South and East Asian), Jainism, Sikhism, Confucianism, Daoism, and Shinto. We will explore within a historical frame the sacred stories, beliefs, notions of human perfection, and practices of the great variety that is these traditions. A central focus of the course will be the question: “Is the religious life a celebration of something natural or does it necessarily involve radical transformation via unnatural discipline?” Concomitant issues to be explored include differing views of the world, conceptions of human nature, and proposals for appropriate religious action.
Field WorkCountry: Vietnam
Date: February 14, 2017
This field class will involve a visit to several Buddhist temples within Ho Chi Minh City to observe a variety of Buddhist practices and talk with officiates and practitioners in the temples. This will include the Quan Am Pagoda that is dedicated to the bodhisattva of compassion Quan Am (Chinese Guan Yin). The religion of this pagoda is a mixture of Pure Land Buddhism focused on Amida Buddha and a variety of Chinese religions. Students are required to submit a 2-3 page field journal entry about this trip, demonstrating their knowledge of the important religious practices that take place in the Buddhist temples of Ho Chi Minh City.
1. Encounter the living tradition of Vietnamese Buddhism
2. Experience the inside of Buddhist temples
3. Observe and learn about Buddhist practices