Topics in Comparative Religions [CRN 27403]

Discipline: Philosophy and Religious Studies
Instructor: Hackett
Credits: 3
Day: A
Start: 1100
End: 1220
Field Work: Day 2 | February 20, 2018 | Myanmar (Burma)
Prerequisites: One (1) Religions of the West course OR one (1) Religions of the East course, OR one (1) Issues in the Study of Religion course Download Syllabus

To follow a religious path is to embark on a sacred journey. From ancient pilgrimages through to the contemporary yearning for inner peace, the people of the world have pushed off from familiar surroundings to seek the heart of religious meaning. Following this path, this course will explore the many meanings of the sacred journey through outer and inner pilgrimages, voyages through and across cultures, and visits to “sacred” sites. We will begin with social scientific discussions of the stages of religious development and then move with our ship’s itinerary through the religious worlds we encounter. At appropriate junctures we will come to know the narrative arc of these religions, the problems that must be solved and the actions that need to be taken. These narratives will be explored through biographies, sacred texts and films that together shed light on the nature of the spiritual journey. Exploring religion as a great human adventure, Sacred Journeys offers a pilgrimage through the jungles, peaks, and deserts of the human spirit.

Field Work

Country: Myanmar (Burma)
Day: 2
Date: February 20, 2018

In this field class we will take a guided tour of the Kalaywa Monastery, have discussions with practitioners on the art and importance of Buddhist meditation, and participate in a meditation session. Later we will tour the Shwedagon Pagoda where we will study Burmese Buddhist architecture and observe Buddhist pilgrims.

Learning Objectives:

1. Become more closely acquainted with the nature, details, and meanings of Buddhist ritual.
2. Better understand how these reflect, sustain, and affect the elements of Buddhism’s more formal belief structure.
3. Hear this unfamiliar (to most students) religion explained by knowledgeable practitioners in their own terms.
4. Experience Buddhist meditation practice.
5. Study the relationship between architecture, worship and Buddhist ideals
6. Recognize the distinctive characteristics of Myanmar’s Theravada Buddhism
7. Gain insight into the relationship between Buddhist ideals and values and how these shape and are shaped by Myanmar society.