Spring 2023 Course Descriptions

All courses are 2-credits
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ARP502: Action Research Project I
Dr. Namdrol Miranda Adams
Dr. Leigh Miller
Tiffany Blumenthal Patrella

(2 credits) The Action Research Project is a form of integrative and collaborative research, reflection, and writing. Students become researchers by choosing a principle question and working with faculty mentors to design a research project. The action researcher is at the center of the inquiry, change, and learning that comes through the process. Action research impacts the researcher on personal and professional levels, and intends to positively impact others as well. ARP502 students will hone their research question, identify their positionality, build a literature review, understand research ethics standards and write consent forms or other ethics documents as needed, explore research methods and describe their selected tools and methodologies, and write a research proposal. The course is successfully completed upon the approval by a committee of their research project proposal. Research plans should be then implemented between the proposal approval and enrollment in ARP504, usually at least six months.

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 2022 will work towards completion of their individual final degree requirements within a cohort and faculty supported structure.

ARP504: Action Research Project II
Dr. Namdrol Miranda Adams
Dr. Leigh Miller
Tiffany Blumenthal Patrella

(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 Action 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.

CS304 Buddhist Ministry and the Spiritual Caregiver in Buddhist/Spiritual Communities
Dr. Leigh Miller

(2 credits)  This course will explore methods of embodied spiritual leadership in support of Buddhist/spiritual communities, with a particular emphasis on cultivating the inner and outer qualities of skillful community ministry and spiritual care. When we model and embody commitment to following a spiritual path, our community and acquaintances may perceive us as religious leaders or “spiritual friends,” and come to rely on us in formal and informal ways; it is, these days, incumbent that we prepare ourselves well to offer them the best care we can, through training ourselves in more than philosophy and meditation. Students will develop their self-awareness and their understanding of their impact on others, and they will come to see how issues such as equity, trauma, ethics and so forth inform the ways in which we share and represent the dharma.

The course builds on spiritual care theories, skills, and service from CS303 with the practice of Spiritual Care Conversations, and the writing and delivery of a dharma talk or homily. This course will help strengthen students’ understanding and practice of compassion for others, including discussion of contemporary application of skillful means, co-constructing spiritual practice environments, facilitating group practices, religious education and pedagogy, working in relational dynamics, and integrating these pieces into one’s personal service.

MDT308 Mahamudra Meditation
Ven. Lozang Yönten with Yangsi Rinpoche

(2 credits) This course will continue with instruction in meditation based on the practices established in MDT 303 (fall semester), with a focus on deepening Shiné (calm abiding) and practicing mahamudra instructions for realizing conventional and ultimate natures of mind. The subject matter will parallel the topics of Buddhist philosophy as taught in as taught in PHL307.

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. Part of this course 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.

This course meets degree requirements as the equivalent of MDT304: Madhyamaka Meditation: Preparation for Vajrayana.

PHL308 Mahamudra: Realizing the Nature of Mind
Dr. Roger Jackson with Yangsi Rinpoche
TA: Ven. Lozang Yönten

(2 credits) The aim of this course is to explore the Great Seal, Mahāmudrā, which in Indian and Tibetan Buddhism is the attempt to realize the conventional and especially the ultimate nature of the mind through a combination of philosophical analysis, calm abiding meditation, and special insight meditation. Study of the function and nature of mind is considered in Indian and Tibetan Buddhist schools to be essential for understanding how to attain mental stability and cultivate realizations. Our primary focus will be on the history, theory, and practice of Mahāmudrā in the Geluk tradition of Tibetan Buddhism—especially as found in the writings of Panchen Losang Chölyi Gyaltsen (1570–1662)—but attention also will be paid to the Indian background of Mahāmudrā and the perspective on realizing the nature of mind found in other Tibetan traditions.

After an introductory session, we will focus on early Mahāyāna approaches to the nature of the mind, through such sources as the Heart and Diamond sutras, the writings of Nāgārjuna and Vasubandhu, and Maitreya’s Buddha-nature treatise, the Uttaratantra. We will begin our in-depth study of Mahāmudrā with attention to the Indian sources of the Great Seal, including such figures as Saraha and Maitrīpa, then proceed to the theory and practice of Mahāmudrā as developed in Tibet among the Kagyu and other “Tibetan-renaissance” (11th–14th-century) traditions.

Our study of Geluk Mahāmudrā will begin with the history of the practice, followed by a close reading of the Panchen’s root-verses and auto-commentary on Mahāmudrā. We will conclude with an exploration of the ritual, poetic, philosophical, and comparative dimensions of Geluk Mahāmudrā. 

This course meets degree requirements as the equivalent of PHL304: A Dose of Emptiness.

PHL328 Advanced Mind Training and Service as Spiritual Practice II: Lojong, Calm-Abiding, and Your Community
Ven. Lozang Yönten and Namdrol Miranda Adams with Yangsi Rinpoche

(2 credits) According to the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, the key to happiness is not the eradication of our problems but rather the development of a mind capable of transforming any problem into a cause for happiness. In this course, building on our exploration the lojong literature and practice tradition of Tibet from the fall term, we will expand our exploration of the tradition to modern practices and applications of lojong, and in particular explore ways that this tradition can serve as a basis for our interaction in the world.

This class will include some traditional commentary on these texts, as well as analysis and exploration of the genre of lojong, including guidance for cultivating new mental habits for mastering our thoughts and emotions as well as contemporary treatments of lojong in the west, including approaches through popular culture, science, and in community.

THL416: Systemic Suffering and Collective Liberation: Awakening to Race, Dharma, and Ourselves
Dr. Leigh Miller

(2 credits)  In the safety and sanctity of this Buddhist environment, this class will explore the deep and troubling issues of race and racism in Oregon, the United States, and in our lives, from the founding of the nation through civil rights and equity movements. The class will begin with histories of race as a social construct, and, drawing upon a variety of media, recognize the harm that racism continues to cause to all. How does Buddhism help us to recognize and work with our biases? How does it provide meaningful solutions and resiliency? Buddhist teachings — on the truth of suffering, cause, cessation, and path, on overcoming the delusion of an independently existing “I”, and the bodhisattva vow to obtain liberation for and with all sentient beings — are echoed in the teachings of Indigenous, Black, and Brown social justice activists as well as Buddhists who stress that our liberations are not separate but intimately interconnected. We will explore the application of Buddhist tools such as the four noble truths, dependent arising, bodhicitta, and equanimity to the truth of the sufferings of systemic racism and colonialism, its causes, and our roles in its perpetuation and cessation. We will all be learning together in this course through listening cohorts and discussions, and no prior study or experience is required. All are welcome to join regardless of race or background.

THL425: Death, Loss, Grieving, and Healing: Personal and Community Processes
Ven. Lozang Yönten

(2 Credits) This course will explore preparing for death through to its aftermath for oneself, our loved ones – learning to make deeper use of this powerful opportunity for spiritual practice. The course will also offer practical logistics and resources for offering service to the dying and bereaved in the larger community and in leadership settings, such as a Chaplain or Funeral Celebrant, with multicultural and multifaith awareness and sensitivity. Explore the Tibetan Buddhist view of the great potential for development and transformation this time supports for the mind, as well as the stages of the physical dying process and how to use those ideas. This examination will include a deep dive into our own belief systems and ways of taking refuge in them, as well as tools for supporting others in their refuge connection, specific to their individual worldviews.

TIB301: Seminar in Tibetan Translation
Yangsi Rinpoche, Dr. Bill Magee, with Dr. Roger Jackson

(2 credits)  In this course, students read and translate Tibetan Buddhist texts and their commentaries in their original language. In this course we will develop our skill with reading Tibetan texts, developing pronunciation, and translating with an emphasis on communicating the meaning through text. Basic Tibetan reading level required.