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.
CS303: Chaplaincy and Models of Spiritual Care
Spiritual Care, or offering the arts of ministry and chaplaincy in the midst of others’ suffering, is now being done by Buddhists in a variety of secular and multi-faith contexts. Through multiple roles, institutional settings, and activities, they are integrating Buddhist religious education, personal spiritual formation, and ministerial agility into their vocation outside of Buddhist communities. This work is informed by, at times in tension with, and also beginning to influence Chaplaincy models of care. This course aims first to understand the history of chaplaincy, what chaplains actually do, chaplaincy specializations, and the paths (educational, personal, religious, and clinical) to professional chaplaincy. The course will then explore innovations and current research in the field of chaplaincy, and prepare students to apply for Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) residencies. The emergence nationally of various forms of Buddhist ministry and chaplaincy will be situated in relation to this context. Ethical codes, standards of practice, and chaplaincy competencies will be explored towards the formulation and articulation of one’s Buddhist theology of spiritual care. Students will broaden their base of compassion and strengthen internal resources through theological reflection and continuing to develop their e-portfolios.
HIS301: History of Buddhist Philosophy: India & Tibet
This course will provide a survey of the history of Buddhism in India and Tibet, including the historical and cultural context out of which Buddhism emerged, the life the historical Buddha, and the formulation of the early sangha. 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. We will then turn our attention to the transmission of Buddhism from India to Tibet, and 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. Finally, the course will conclude with a section on the modern transmission of Buddhism from Tibet to the western world, including the key figures, lineages, texts, practices, and social concerns that make it 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.
MDT304: Madhyamaka Meditation: Preparation for Vajrayana
The subject matter of this course will parallel the topics of Buddhist philosophy as taught in as taught in PHL304. 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 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.
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.
PHL304: Madhyamaka Philosophy: A Dose of Emptiness
In this class, exploration and debate of the philosophy and practice of Madhyamaka, or the “Middle Way” is deepened and refined. One primary reading text for this class will be Khedrup Je’s Dose of Emptiness (stong thun chen mo), a detailed critical exposition of the theory and practice of emptiness as expounded in the three major schools of Mahayana philosophy, as well as its commentaries. Students are strongly encouraged to enroll in MDT304 Madhyamaka Meditation: Preparation for Vajrayana in conjunction with this class.
THL320: Contemporary Buddhist Thought and Theology
What does academia have to offer Buddhist communities? What do Buddhist communities and practices have to offer Buddhist Studies? How might contemplative and reflective practices help us to create bridges, both between “scholars” and “practitioners”, as well as between the dharma and the demanding issues of our times? Buddhist Theology, or Buddhist Critical Constructive Reflection, sits at the nexus of these questions. Today, it is not enough for a scholar-practitioner to merely give an account of doctrinal or historical information, as valuable as this is and has been. How are Buddhists to understand and respond, for instance, to problems that did not exist in the Buddha’s time, such as mass species extinction or global pandemics? How does the Buddhist spiritual care provider come to terms, personally and with care seekers, with the first noble truth of pervasive suffering on their hospital floor or in their sangha? How can a Buddhist scholar-practitioner train in critical reflection skills offered by both the academy and religious traditions, and use such thinking to also critically engage the academy and religious traditions? For instance, how ought Buddhists think about the tradition’s patriarchal past? What are appropriate and effective Buddhist ways of thinking about these problems and questions?
The work of the academic study of Buddhism by modern scholars has offered tremendous insights into the historical and social conditions that grounded, informed, and influenced the formation of Buddhist ideas and institutions. Yet due to the academic attempt to keep an objective and scientific distance from its object of study, many scholars have been discouraged in the academy from thinking about the normative implications of these insights for modern Buddhist communities. With the growth of Buddhist “theological” thinking, also called critical constructive reflection, Buddhist scholars who are also practitioners have moved beyond simply describing the tradition from a distance, and begun to use the critical skills of the academy to think about the tradition and speak from within the tradition about issues of concern to themselves as members of Buddhist communities. This course will examine the development of this branch of Buddhist thinking including the very use of the term “theology” for a tradition without a theos (God), its theoretical grounding, and examples of its contemporary application. We will also explore models and practices of ‘theological reflection’, largely from non-Buddhist communities, towards the construction of our own explicitly Buddhist methods of sacred reading or contemplative constructive critical reflection.
THL360: Arts of Ministry: Special Topics
The arts of ministry are broad and training in them fosters intellectual, spiritual, and pastoral agility, or the expressions and embodiments of spiritual formation and maturation. In theological training, the artis of ministry include organizational, institutional, and congregational history, development, planning, and leadership; pastoral care and counseling; peace and justice social action; homiletics; leading rituals or ceremonies; religious education; exegesis and eisegesis; etc. This course offers specialized exploration of topics, competencies, and emergent areas of praxis for the Buddhist or spiritual minister, chaplain, or leader. Course content and approaches are informed by innovations in chaplaincy education aimed at training students to meet evolving societal needs. Topics may include grief, loss, and bereavement; trauma; human development; psychological dimensions of spiritual care; theological reflection and action reflection; creating systemic change; diverse and emerging service and spiritual care contexts; and so forth. Competencies may be developed in care of institutions or organizations, interpersonal skills, or building resilient worldviews among interfaith, multicultural, and diverse peoples. Faculty or co-teachers will include practicing professionals, and coursework will attend closely to the cultivation of internal qualities and skillful means needed to practice the many arts of ministry.
TIB201: Classical Tibetan Language Intermediate I
Students continue to deepen their knowledge of Tibetan grammar and syntax through reading and decoding basic verse and prose texts and commentaries on Buddhist philosophy and practice in their original language. This course also introduces basic translation theory. Whenever possible, students receive oral commentary of the texts they are working with as part of the class, and begin to learn how to translate formal logical statements so common in Tibetan philosophical exegesis.
TIB301: Seminar in 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.