Buddhism
Introduction

In this course we will trace the historical, philosophical, and religious development of Buddhism from its origins in India, through its transmission to Southeast Asia, Tibet, China, Korea, Japan, and finally North America. Among the themes that will be explored are: the Buddhist conception of the self; techniques of meditation; the relationships between Buddhism and the state/society/world; and regional influences on the transformations of Buddhism. We will conclude by reflecting on the question of unity and diversity in the various traditions of Buddhism, as well as the present significance and future prospects of Buddhism in the “modern” world. The distribution of grades for the course is as follows:
 
10%
20%
20%
20%
5%
25%
Class/BodhiBlog Participation
Siddhartha Paper (January 20)
Temple Visit Paper (One Week After Temple Visit)

Harcore Zen Paper (March 1)
Contemplative Event Paper (One Week After Attending Event)
Final Exam

You final grade will ultimately depend on my assessment of your performance in each of the above areas, though the following descriptions should provide you with a rough idea of the defining characteristics of students within particular grade ranges:

APossesses a deep understanding of the major concepts and themes of the course. The “A” student is able to consistently identify and explain key ideas in the primary sources, develop genuine insights into the broader significance of these texts, and demonstrate a high level of intellectual engagement in class discussions.
BDemonstrates a serious commitment to the course (i.e. attendance and participation) and a strong grasp of the major concepts and themes but with less depth and/or consistency than the “A” student.
CDemonstrates a reasonable effort to attend class and participate in discussions as well as a basic grasp of the course material.
DDemonstrates a minimal commitment to the course and a weak grasp of basic concepts and themes.
FFails to demonstrate an acceptable degree of effort in the course through low attendance, inability to discuss basic concepts and themes, missed assignments and/or plagiarized work.
 

Class/BodhiBlog Participation
Your participation mark (worth 10% of the final grade) will be based on your ability to demonstrate that you have made a sincere attempt to read and understand the assigned material; although the quality of your comments will obviously be taken into consideration, all attempts to seriously engage the readings—from sharing your perspective on the material to simply asking a relevant question—will enhance your grade. You can also enhance your grade by posting reflections on the readings and/or class discussions to an online discussion forum that I call BodhiBlog (“Enlightenment” Blog), which can be accessed through Blackboard. Although your mark will ultimately depend on my subjective evaluation of the quantity and quality of your comments, you may reasonably expect to receive at least a “B” if you attend class regularly, actively participate in class discussions, and contribute a minimum of 5 substantial postings to the BodhiBlog.
 

Written Assignments
Papers should be submitted to Blackboard/Assignments by the provided deadline; late papers will be penalized a full grade (e.g. from A to B) for the first day and one degree (e.g. from B to B-) thereafter. All papers should include appropriate referencesto “academic" (i.e. peer-reviewed) sources; both direct quotations and indirect references to the ideas of another author should be properly cited according to the conventions of either Chicago Style or MLA. Papers that contain significant instances of plagiarism will receive a 0 and be reported to the Office of Academic Affairs. All submitted work may be used for program assessment (with names removed).
 

Siddhartha Paper
Your first paper will be a 6-page (1500-word minimum) book report on Hermann Hesse’s novel Siddhartha. The paper should focus on the similarities and differences between the fictional Siddhartha of the novel and the historical Siddhartha who is said to have attained enlightenment and become a Buddha. Your conclusion should explain how comparing the lives of the two Siddharthas enhanced your understanding of the Buddha’s teachings. Please be sure to provide appropriate references to Hesse’s Siddhartha and at least three academic sources.
 

Harcore Zen Paper
Your second book report will be a 6-page (1500-word minimum) paper on Brad Warner’s autobiography Hardcore Zen: Punk Rock, Monster Movies, & the Truth about Reality. The paper should focus on the question of whether or not Warner’s perspective is consistent with the essential principles of Buddhism in general and Zen Buddhism in particular. Your argument should be supported by evidence from Warner’s book and at least three academic sources.
 
Temple Visit Paper
At some point during the term you will attend a Buddhist service and write a 6-page (1500-word minimum) paper based on your experience. A class visit to Foguangshan temple in Naperville has been scheduled for Sunday, February 12, though you may choose to attend a service at another temple if you wish (see attached list for a selection of Buddhist temples in the area). Your paper should include a general summary of the service as well as a detailed description of a specific ritual (or other element of the service) that you found particularly interesting. You should then explore the significance of your chosen ritual/element through references to at least three academic sources. Your conclusion should explain how the temple visit together with additional research helped you develop a deeper understanding of the relationship between Buddhist theory and practice.
 
Contemplative Event Paper
Every term, the Department of Religious Studies hosts a number of “contemplative” events, each of which features a brief talk by an experienced practitioner of a particular tradition (religious or secular), followed by a meditation exercise and open discussion. During the term, you will attend at least one of these events and then write a 1-2 page (375-word minimum) reflection paper. In addition to describing the event, you should explore your subjective experience during the meditation exercise; although you may not regard your own experience as “religious,” you should reflect on how the event enhanced your perspective on the role of meditation in the Buddhist tradition. Dates for this term’s Contemplative Events are provided in the syllabus.
 

Final Exam
The final exam will include an assortment of quiz-style questions (such as multiple choice, true/false, and fill-in-the-blank), a list of key terms for you to “identify and state the significance of,” and essay-style questions on some of the major themes covered in the course. Further details will be provided prior to the exam.
 

Required Texts
 Mitchell, Donald W. and Sarah H. Jacoby. Buddhism: Introducing the Buddhist Experience. Third Edition. New York: Oxford University Press, 2014.
 Hesse, Hermann. Siddhartha. Translated by Susan Bernofsky. New York: Modern Library, 2008.
 Warner, Brad. Hardcore Zen: Punk Rock, Monster Movies, & the Truth about Reality. Boston: Wisdom Publications, 2003.
●  Additional sources are available either by link or by downloading from Blackboard/Course Readings.
 

Office Hours, Etc.
225 North Loomis Road, Room 23
Monday 2:45-3:45
  Tuesday 3:00-5:00
Wednesday 2:45-3:45
Thursday 3:00-5:00 ( Tea/Talk @ 4:00)
Phone: 630-637-5619
E-Mail: bhoffert@noctrl.edu
Home Page:  http://bhoffert.faculty.noctrl.edu