Registration is open for fall 2023 courses (last day to add or drop a class is September 11); follow the links on this page (course descriptions are at the bottom of this page and faculty bios are here)

Fall 2023 Course Descriptions

All courses are 2-credits
Click here for faculty bios

CS301: Foundations of Buddhist Service

This class is an introduction to the service core at Maitripa College for all students, focusing on understanding and developing a Personal Theology both within and outside of the Buddhist tradition, understanding the concept of spiritual transformation through service, and developing an understanding of “suffering” in the context of a Buddhist worldview This class includes a 15-hour concurrent service-learning project.

HIS301: History of Buddhism in India and Tibet

This course will provide a broad-based survey of the history of Buddhism in India and Tibet. We will begin by discussing the historical and cultural context out of which Buddhism emerged, namely the Vedic period and Vedic traditions that preceded classical Hindu traditions in India. From here we will discuss the brahmana (ascetic) movement, the life the historical Buddha, and the formulation of the early sangha. After discussing Buddhism during the lifetime of the Buddha, we will cover the early history of Buddhism including the early Buddhist councils, the creation of the Buddhist canon, and the formulation of early Buddhist schools. We will then cover the beginnings of the Mahayana, the early Mahayana philosophers, and the intellectual history of Mahayana Buddhism in India. In addition to reading histories of Buddhism, we will also read and discuss scholarly articles about the proper methods for approaching and understanding this history. We will then turn our attention to the transmission of Buddhism from India to Tibet. We will discuss the key figures in both the early and later disseminations of Buddhism to Tibet and the key events which helped shape the forms Tibetan Buddhism takes today. This portion of the course will be divided into two sections: the early transmission and the later transmission. Each of the four major Tibetan Buddhist schools as well as the indigenous Bon tradition, their histories, key figures, texts, and lineages will be discussed. Students will gain a comprehensive understanding of Buddhist beginnings in India, its history and development in the land of its origin, and the manner in which the tradition was transmitted to Tibet. In addition, students will gain a detailed understanding of the religious and intellectual history of Buddhism in Tibet, including the key figures, lineages, texts, and practices which make the schools of Buddhism in Tibet unique.

MDT301: Introduction to Buddhist Meditation

This course will provide a broad introduction to the vast corpus of techniques and practices of Buddhist meditation, with particular emphasis on the techniques of analytical meditation. The course will be taught in an interactive format, allowing students the opportunity to learn specific meditations as directed by the instructor, practice them, and discuss their experiences in class. The subject matter will parallel the topics of Buddhist philosophy as taught in PHL301. Part of this class will include regular meditation sessions out of class, the keeping of a sitting journal, and the opportunity for objective discussion on the effect of these practices on the individual’s mind. If desired, the committed student will have the opportunity to work with the instructor to design a personal meditation practice.

MDT412: Techniques of Meditation: The Mind and Wind

According to the Tibetan Medical tantras, the Wind element (rLung-spyi) is the breath, life force, and energy of the body and mind. It is pervasive and circulates inside and outside of the body. It is the source of respiration, movement, strength, and the power of the body and mind. It especially governs the main function of the mind, and for this reason, is considered particularly important and impactful in Buddhist practice which holds the relationship with mind and the experience reality that results from such as paramount. Most importantly, in the context of this class, is the relationship between the wind and the mind (sems), and the understanding of how working with one affects the other. For this reason, this course is being offered in conjunction with PHL412.

PHL301: Introduction to Buddhist Thought

This class will make use of philosophical treatises, literature, and historical analysis to present the foundations of Buddhist philosophy as taught by the early Indian pandits and commented upon by Tibetan scholars. Readings will include selections from the Abhidharma Kosha, Pramanavarttika, and Abhisamayalamkara, with particular focus on the readings that relate to the three scopes of the lamrim as presented by the Tibetan scholar Je Tsongkhapa. Students will come away from this course with a foundation in Buddhist philosophy and knowledge of key issues of Buddhist Studies, including personal identity and the five skandhas, subtle impermanence, and the basics of a Buddhist world view. Students will gain important grounding in basic principles of dependent arising, the structure of Buddhist logic, and familiarity with Buddhist logic and logical arguments.

PHL412: Tibetan Medicine: The Wind Element

Tibetan Medicine (bod kyi gso ba rig pa, or Sowa Rigpa) is one of the oldest known traditional medicine systems in the world. It is a unique tradition based on medical knowledge from multiple ancient cultures, including India, China, Afghanistan, Persia, and the Bon tradition of Tibet, on the basis of the four medical tantras taught by Shakyamuni Buddha. The Tibetan Medical system is deeply intertwined with Buddhist thought and holds the philosophical basis of the three poisons and the four noble truths as its framework. This course will provide an overview of Tibetan medicine with a focus on the wind element (rlung), which, according to this system, is one of the three principal energies of the human body, responsible for all movement internal and external to the body, from the circulation of blood to the movement of limbs. Most importantly, in the context of this class, is the relationship between the wind and the mind (sems), and the understanding of how working with one affects the other. For this reason, this course is being offered in conjunction with  MDT412. These courses should be taken together.

THL305: Engaged Buddhism: Non-Violence and Social Justice in Buddhist Thought and Practice

Engaged Buddhism is the application of the Dharma to large and small scale problems that cause suffering in the world. Engaged Buddhism is a theoretical lens and set of movements and organizations dedicated to applying Dharma to understand what are often considered social and systemic causes suffering in the world, and the framework of Buddhist ethics that can be mobilized towards the alleviation of suffering. Most commonly it is thought of as Buddhist social and political action but can include everything from direct action on the streets to solitary meditation in a Himalayan cave for ultimate benefit of all living beings. Socially Engaged Buddhism is not aligned with any particular Buddhist denomination and can be found across the Buddhist world. It has been more clearly defined and prominent in the past fifty years thanks to the efforts of leading Engaged Buddhist thinkers including but not limited to Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Sulak Sivaraksa, Samdhong Rinpoche, Bhikku Boshi, B. Ambedkar, Maha Gosananda, A.T Ariyaratne, Sallie King, Joana Macy, Joan Halifax, Roshi Bernie Glassman, and Peter Harvey, among others. In this class we will look at the writings of these Engaged Buddhists and investigate the kinds of activities Engaged Buddhists are doing to transform society and create a world that engenders our highest ideals and nurtures healing, compassion, and wisdom. Specifically, we may focus on some or all of the following issues: politics, economics, environmentalism, concepts of justice, internment/incarceration, gender, or current global or national issues, and possibly our own direct engagement as a class.

THL337: Empathy in Communication: Mindful Listening and Compassionate Response

How do we deeply and compassionately listen to others, so they feel seen and heard, healing connection is created, and true collaboration becomes possible? How do we use empathy appropriately, and without being overcome ourselves? Empathy is a foundational skill for spiritual care givers and for healthy relationships, focused on the quality of connection we experience with ourselves and others. It is a willingness to offer curiosity and compassionate presence for another person’s experience without trying to fix them, insert our own agenda, or lose our own grounding. The common misconceptions and obstacles to self-empathy and empathy for others will be clarified, as will be prevention of empathetic distress leading to burnout. The components of empathy, ways to offer empathy suitable to varying feelings and needs, and discerning what distinguishes empathy from other kinds of responses, are learnable skills which students will practice weekly. Students will learn to stay grounded while deescalating difficult conversations, recognize and set healthy boundaries, create healthy differentiation and emotional security, recognize and work with our own obstacles to empathy and self-empathy, and to build a functional vocabulary of feelings and needs. Students will enter a safe environment for practice, learning, and sharing experiences from our lives in structured in-person and written exercises. Students in this class will gain theoretical and applied understanding of the 12 essential aspects of empathy as it is presented within the Mindful Compassionate Dialogue system of Wise Heart International, created by LaShelle Lowe-Charde. This class welcomes any interested student; no prior experience is needed. MDiv students are strongly encouraged to enroll.

TIB101: Introduction to Classical Tibetan Language

Introduction to alphabet, grammar, and sentence structure of Classical Tibetan language. Students gain first exposure to dictionary use and online resources for Tibetan studies.

TIB301r: Seminar in Tibetan Translation

Students read and translate Tibetan texts and their commentaries in their original language. In this course we will learn reading and reciting Tibetan texts, developing pronunciation, and translating with an emphasis on communicating the meaning.