~Registration for Spring 2024 is now open (use links on the right)~
Course descriptions are at the bottom of this page and faculty bios are here
Classes begin January 22; last day to enroll/add/drop a class is Friday, February 2.

Spring 2024 Course Descriptions

ARP504: Action Research Project II (2 credits)

Building upon ARP502, students who have implemented their approved Action Research Project proposal and successfully gathered significant data enroll in ARP504 to complete their Actional Research Project. In this term, students will learn to analyze their data, organize their thinking for intended audiences, produce a written, formal paper of their findings, and present their research to the community.

MA and MDiv students’ final degree requirement, to be determined in consultation with their academic advisors, may be the completion of an MA exam, thesis, MDiv comprehensive paper, or the action research project, for students commencing their degree prior to August 2020. Those commencing after August 2020 are by default expected to complete an ARP. All degree students are strongly encouraged to consult with their advisor to plan for the best time to enroll in ARP502 (2nd or 4th term) or ARP504 (4th or 6th term). Students enrolled in Spring 2023 will work towards completion of their individual final degree requirements within a cohort and faculty supported structure.

CS302: Finding Your Voice: Communication and Context (2 credits)

This is the second course in the service pillar at Maitripa College, which builds on the foundation of the first term, exploring concepts and practicalities related to identifying and expressing yourself as a spiritual leader in modern society and establishing a unique and relevant “voice.” We will explore traditional, historical, and contemporary “voices” of Spiritual Leadership, and mediums for expressing that voice, including online platforms, the Academy, spiritual communities, and others. This class includes a concurrent 15 hour service project.

MDT302: Intermediate Techniques of Buddhist Meditation (2 credits)

This course will continue with instruction in meditation based on the foundations established in MDT 301. 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 PHL302. Part of this class will include regular meditation sessions out of class, the keeping of a sitting journal, and the opportunity for 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.

MDT335: Meditation on the Nature of Reality: How Things Appear and How They Exist (2 credits)

In this class, you will be guided in meditation on views of the ultimate nature of reality and, ultimately, be introduced to the view of emptiness in accordance with Tibetan Buddhist thought. In accordance with the tradition, this view entails the negation of an “inherent” existence of self and phenomena, with care taken to ensure that conventional existence is established and protected, and that “emptiness” does not mean “nothingness.” In this class, you will learn how to meditate on the correct view of emptiness through the cultivation of wisdom which is the union of calm-abiding and insight as taught in the major Buddhist traditions, and how to apply such meditation, in combination with the altruistic intention of bodhicitta, in your everyday life, and, ultimately, to the complete eradication of all obscurations and to full enlightenment.

PHL302: Foundations & Ethics of Buddhist Thought: Method and Wisdom (2 credits)

This class surveys the foundational philosophical ideas of the Buddhist tradition as presented by the great pandits of India and commented upon by the Tibetan inheritors of the Indian Buddhist tradition. The course will make use of philosophical treatises (primary sources in translation), literature, and historical analysis to present the foundations of Buddhist philosophy. Readings may include selections from Vasubandhu’s Abhidharmakosha, Dharmakirt’s Pramanavarttika, the Abhisamayalamkara (attributed to Maitreya), Shantideva’s Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life, and “Seventy Topics” from the Ornament of Clear Realizations by Maitreya, as well as modern scholarly analysis of the same. There will be a particular focus on the readings as they relate to the medium and great scope of the Lamrim (Stages of the Path genre) as presented by the Tibetan scholar Je Tsongkhapa and others. Students will gain a strong foundation in Buddhist philosophy including key topics that relate to the medium and great scopes (ways of describing spiritual practitioners’ stages of motivation and aims) such as: cause and effect, the potential for enlightenment, and the structure of existence according to the Buddhist world view. Students will also gain a strong understanding of the Buddhist philosophic underpinnings of critical concepts such as: loving kindness, great compassion, and abandoning the mind of self-cherishing, the mind of enlightenment, the six perfections, and an in-depth examination of the path of a bodhisattva.

PHL414: Tibetan Medicine II: The Wind Element and Mental Health – Healing in Daily Life (2 credits)

According to Tibetan Medicine, lung (Tib. rlung) (often translated as “wind”) is one of the three principal energies of the human body. It is responsible for all movement internal and external to the body, from the circulation of blood to the movement of the limbs. It is also said to be the element that is most closely associated with the mind, emotions, and states of mind, and of illnesses associated with the mind. The first part of this class will explore the Tibetan medical definitions and understanding of lung, and the ways in which it functions as a unique location that touches upon material and non-material, physical and mental, and psychological, spiritual, and religious approaches to understanding, diagnosing, and treating mental illness. The second part of the class will focus on the specifics of the Tibetan Medical interpretations of lung and the causation and treatment of various forms of “mental illness,” noting similarities and differences between rlung-related categories and biomedical classifications of mental illness.

PHL450: Theories & Methods of Buddhist Studies (2 credits)

This course is designed to give students the methodological and theoretical tools needed to think critically about ways to approach the academic study of Buddhism. What are the goals of Buddhist Studies? What are the best methods for achieving those goals? What sorts of presuppositions and assumptions do we bring into our work and our orientation towards “Buddhism”? Do our presuppositions and assumptions serve our goals? How do political, religious, and/or ideological preferences impact our engagement with the object of study? What are the authoritative sources for the information we want and how do we determine that? How do we understand and interpret the “data”? What sorts of responsibilities do scholars have? What we study and how we study it are inextricably tied to questions of theory and method. Those who see methodological discussions as needless academic meanderings do not somehow thereby free themselves of methodological biases. Everybody engages their object of study with a theoretical and methodological orientation. The goal of this class is to encourage students to do so consciously, to think about their own assumptions and the assumptions of the broader community of scholars who engage the Buddhist traditions within modernity and postmodernity.

THL364:  Buddhist Scriptures: On Compassion (2 credits)

Whether you are new to Buddhism or have been studying or practicing for years, this course invites you to make an acquaintance with a selection of Pali, Sanskrit, Tibetan, and other Buddhist scriptures (in translation) which center on compassionate responses to the suffering of ourselves, others, and the world. Since the Buddha’s time, Buddhists have needed to care for each other in old age, sickness, dying, bereavement, and so forth. Shakyamuni Buddha modeled teaching dharma, caretaking sick monastics, and counseling leaders and disciples from a motivation to alleviate and eliminate suffering, a compassionate motivation that weaves through all the stories of bodhisattvas and great teachers. Other texts clarify philosophic views and contemplations that support recognizing suffering, giving rise to the intention to act to alleviate it, and exercising skillful and efficacious means. What do we gain by reading these? We will attempt to engage with texts as “scripture,” inquiring whether scripture is more than text when words which have profoundly impacted generations of people also deeply enter into our own lived experiences of what it means to be humans. By approaching texts with the intention to listen for how they speak to us, and while considering their historical contexts, content, and worldviews, we will come to understand their place in Buddhist lives and in our own lives. Those students with interests in the broad fields of professional caregiving who seek Buddhist sources and models for their work will gain the ability to articulate some Buddhist scriptural foundations for their care of persons and communities, including whether and how diverse premodern Buddhist approaches to the suffering of others can uniquely inform contemporary spiritual care. For us all, these texts put the responsibility and capacity for easing pain, confusion, fear, anxiety, greed, and aversion – and growing in wholesome states of loving-kindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity — in our own healing hands.

TIB102: Introduction to Classical Tibetan Language II (2 credits)

Continued study of Tibetan grammar, syntax, and vocabulary of Classical Tibetan language.

TIB301(r): Seminar in Tibetan Translation (2 credits)

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.