In this course the exploration of images, temples, myth, poetry, meditation, devotion, and philosophy are woven together in a multidimensional approach to the exquisite spiritual traditions of Asia. From the aesthetics of Japanese Zendos to the thunderous Hindu temple towers of South India we will empower your ability to read and interpret the “visual scriptures” and cultural phenomena that you encounter from Hawaii to Mauritius. You will learn about the genesis of Hinduism and Buddhism in India and their transformations and expressions in China, Japan, Hawaii, Mauritius, and Southeast Asia. The course gives attention to mysticism, devotion, and philosophy, and offers general knowledge of five major worldviews: Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Shinto, and Confucianism. We begin by asking who we are as observers and interpreters and questioning the history of our culture’s encounters and conceptions of Asia. The goals of the course are to acquire basic cultural and historical knowledge, philosophical understanding of Asian worldviews, and critical skills for engaging alternate cultural realities.
Field WorkCountry: Japan
Date: January 24, 2020
Nara contains both great Buddhist temple complexes and Shinto shrines, laid out like a beautiful park full of free roaming deer (which may be fed). We will visit some of the oldest, grandest, and most historically important Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines in Japan, as well as several exquisite Japanese gardens. Among these are temples with enormous sculptures housed in some of the largest wooden structures in the world. Learning Objectives: 1. Learn to understand the religious and political roles of temples, monasteries, pagodas, shrines and gardens as expressions of Japanese aesthetic values informed by both Shinto and Buddhist values 2. See institutional expressions of the symbiotic rapprochement between Buddhist and Shinto traditions, and consider their links to aristocratic clans and political power 3. See extraordinary expressions of Buddhist art and culture