Home
Faculty
Courses
Study Abroad
Concentration
Buddhist Studies Certificate Program
Faculty Publications
Faculty Seminar
Prizes
Public Talks & Conferences
Webcasts
Resources
Summer Institute in Museum Studies
Tibetan Studies in India
Religious & Spiritual Life

Related Links

Previous Courses

100-Level Courses

BUX 120 The Study of Buddhism
Jay Garfield, Peter Gregory, Jamie Hubbard - Fall 2011
Peter Gregory, Jamie Hubbard, Andy Rotman - Fall 2012
Constance Kassor - Fall 2013, 2014

This course introduces students to the academic study of Buddhism through readings, lectures by Smith faculty and guests, and trips to local Buddhist centers. We will critically examine the history of Buddhist studies within the context of numerous disciplines, including anthropology, art, cultural studies, gender studies, government, literature, philosophy, and religion, with a focus on regional, sectarian, and historical differences. Materials to be considered include poetry, painting, philosophy, political tracts, and more. Graded S/U only. (E) 1 credit

REL 105 An Introduction to World Religions
Lois Dubin and Carol Zaleski - Fall 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011
Lois Dubin, Suleiman Mourad, Carol Zaleski - Fall 2009
Vera Shevzov and Carol Zaleski - Fall 2013, 2014
Carol Zaleski - Fall 2012

An exploration of the religious texts and practices of major traditions (Hindu, Buddhist, Chinese, Jewish, Christian, Islamic) as well as those of smaller, more localized communities. Diverse forms of classical and contemporary religious experience and expression are analyzed through texts, rituals, and films as well as through fieldwork. Consideration will also be given to the role of religion in the American public sphere and in current world events.{H} 4 credits

REL 110 Colloquium: Politics of Enlightenment
Jamie Hubbard - Fall 2014

Doctrinal and thematic survey of Buddhist attitudes to the religious person in a social, political world; overview of doctrinal statements and focus on issues such as women in Buddhism, Tibetan Buddhism in exile, the monks’ war in Vietnam, and Western Buddhism.{H} 4 credits

200-Level Courses

ARH 222: The Art of China
Marylin Rhie - Fall 2010, 2014, Spring 2008

The art of China and peripheral regions as expressed in painting, sculpture, architecture, porcelain and the ritual bronzes. The influence of India is studied in connection with the spread of Buddhism along the trade routes of Central Asia. {H/A} 4 credits

ARH 224: The Art of Japan
Marylin Rhie - Spring 2009

The art of Japan, especially painting, sculpture, architecture and color prints. Particular attention given to the roles of native tradition and foreign influences in the development of Japanese art. {H/A} 4 credits

ARH 226: The Art of India
Marylin Rhie - Fall 2013, Spring 2010

The art of India and bordering regions to the north from the Indus Valley civilization through the ancient and classical Gupta age, the medieval period, and the Mughal-Rajput period, as expressed in the architecture, sculpture and painting of the Buddhist, Hindu, Jain and Muslim religions. Recommended background: ARH 101 or 120. {A/H} 4 credits

BUX 253j Indo-Tibetan Buddhist Philosophy and Hermeneutics
Sue Darlington - January 2012, 2013
Jay Garfield - January 2009, 2010, 2011
Constance Kassor - January 2014, 2015

This intensive course is taught at the Central University of Tibetan Studies in Sarnath, India as part of the Hampshire/Five College in India program. Students take daily classes, taught by eminent Tibetan scholars, in Buddhist philosophy, Indo-Tibetan hermeneutics and Tibetan history and culture, and they attend regular discussion sessions as well as incidental lectures on topics including Tibetan art history and iconography, Tibetan astrology and medicine and Tibetan politics. Students also visit important Buddhist historical sites and explore Varanasi, one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. Each student is paired with a Tibetan student "buddy" to get an inside view of Tibetan culture. Enrollment limited to 15, and requires application and acceptance by the H/5CIP. Pay attention to calls for early application. Deadlines fall mid-October. No prerequisites. {H}{M}{S} 3 credits

EAS 270: Colloquium in East Asian Studies
Topic: Art of Korea
Marylin Rhie - Fall 2007, 2009, 2014, Spring 2011

Architecture, sculpture, painting and ceramic art of Korea from Neolithic times to the 18th century. {A/H} 4 credits

Topic: Japanese Buddhist Art
Marylin Rhie - Spring 2008, 2010

Study of the Japanese Buddhist art traditions in architecture, sculpture, painting, gardens and the tea ceremony from the 6th to the 19th centuries. {A/H} 4 credits

EAS 279: Colloquium: The Art and Culture of Tibet
Marylin Rhie - Fall 2008, 2010

The architecture, painting and sculpture of Tibet are presented within their cultural context from the period of the Yarlung dynasty (seventh century) through the rule of the Dalai Lamas to the present. {A/H} 4 credits

PHI 252: Madhyamaka and Yogacara
Jay Garfield - Fall 2007
Constance Kassor - Spring 2013

This course examines the two principal schools of Indian Mahayana Buddhist philosophy. The Madhyamaka school is highly skeptical and critical in its dialectic. The Yogacara or Cittamatra school is highly idealist. The two present contrasting interpretations of the thesis that phenomena are empty and contrasting interpretations of the relationship between conventional and ultimate reality. The debate between their respective proponents is among the most fertile in the history of Buddhist philosophy. We will read each school’s principal sutras and early philosophical texts, medieval Tibetan and Chinese commentarial literature and recent scholarly discussions of the texts and doctrines of these schools. Prerequisites: one course in philosophy or Buddhist studies. {H} 4 credits

PHI 265 Colloquium: Comparative Indian Philosophy
Topic: Buddhist Ethics: Santideva's Guide to the Bodhisattva's Way of Life
Lobsang Shastri - Spring 2007

This course will involve a close reading of the Ninth Century Indian Buddhist philosopher Santideva's Bodhicaryavatara (Guide to the Bodhisattva's Way of Life) in order to come to an understanding of the ethical framework of Mahayana Buddhism.

REL 260 Buddhist Thought
Peter Gregory - Fall 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2013

Enduring patterns of Buddhist thought concerning the interpretations of self, world, nature, good and evil, love, wisdom, time, and enlightenment as revealed in a careful reading of two major Mahayana texts. Enrollment limited to 35. {H} 4 credits

REL 262 Poetry of the Enlightenment
Peter Gregory - Fall 2013

This course will explore ancient and modern Buddhist-inspired poetry from China, Korea, Japan, and the United States. The first half of the course will be devoted to East Asian poetry, and the second half will be devoted to American poetry. We will read selections from such notables as Wang Wei, Han Shan, and Su Shi (China), Saigyō, Ikkyū, and Ryōkan (Japan), Ko Un (Korea), and Gary Snyder, Philip Whalen, Jane Hirshfield, and Dan Gerber (U.S.). Enrollment limited to 20. {L} 4 credits

REL 263 Zen
Peter Gregory - Fall 2007, 2008, Spring 2011, 2013

Beginning with a survey of some of the fundamental ideas and institutions developed in China and Japan, the course will focus on the transmission and transformation of Zen in America. It will take a broad historical approach, looking at the forces that shaped the way in which Zen was presented to “the West” and exploring the ways in which westerners appropriated, adapted, and continue to engage the tradition. {H} 4 credits

REL 264 Buddhist Meditation
Peter Gregory - Fall 2009, Spring 2011

This course will explore classical and contemporary forms of Buddhist meditation theory and practice. It will examine both classical formulations and contemporary expositions with an eye to seeing how the theory and practice of Buddhist meditation are being adapted to fit the needs of people today. Enrollment limited to 25. {H} 4 credits

REL 265 Colloquium in East Asian Religions
Topic: Chinese Religions
Peter Gregory - Spring 2010, 2012

The course will explore some of the basic orientations and themes in Chinese religions by focusing on two clusters of stories, practices, and images that are central to understanding the evolution of Chinese Buddhism. First we will examine the transformation of the Indian Buddhist bodhisattva Avalokitesvara into the Goddess of Mercy Guanyin by investigating how Buddhist canonical sources and imagery interacted with Chinese notions of gender, family, filial piety and cosmic resonance to produce the most-widely revered deity in Chinese religion. We will then examine various practices for feeding hungry ghosts associated with Mulian’s (Maudgalyayana) travel to hell to save his mother, which we will explore within the broader context of indigenous beliefs and practices concerning ancestors, the dead, mortuary practice, and shamanic journeys. The course will use these two “case studies” to reflect on broader themes of how Chinese Buddhism both transformed and was transformed by Confucianism, Daoism, and popular religious culture. {H} 4 credits

REL 266 Buddhism in America
Peter Gregory - Spring 2009, 2010

Almost 50 different Buddhist groups can be found within a twenty-mile radius of the Smith campus. This class will explore the way Buddhism is practiced and conceptualized by some of the more prominent and representative groups in the area as a perspective from which to reflect on the broader phenomenon of Buddhism in America. It will involve participant observation, field trips, and class visits from some of the area teachers. Enrollment limited to 25 students. {H} 4 credits

REL 267 Buddhism, the Beats, and the Making of the Counterculture
Peter Gregory - Fall 2011, 2012

The development of a uniquely American idiom of Buddhism beginning in the late 1960s owes much to the writings of the Beats in the 1950s. The cultural innovations of the Fifties reverberated in the social and political shifts of the Sixties to give rise to an American Buddhist idiom that emphasized meditation, direct experience, community, socially engaged action, and concern with the environment. The course will explore the representations of Buddhism in the works of such notable Beat writers as Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Gary Snyder, and Philip Whalen and their influence on the countercultural movement and the various Buddhist communities (both imagined and institutional) that arose from the Sixties on. The course will also analyze the Beat aesthetic of spontaneity in new forms of cultural expressions in the Fifties - such as the action painting of abstract expressionists like Jackson Pollock and the bebop jazz of Charlie Parker - and Eastern ideas of creativity and naturalness introduced by D. T. Suzuki, Alan Watts, and R. H. Blythe. {H/L} 4 credits

REL 269 Introduction to Mongolian Buddhism
Lkham Purevjav, Richard Taupier - Fall 2012

This course begins with the early contacts between Mongols and Buddhists, including Chenggis Khan and Altan Khan (who named the Dalai Lamas in the 16th century), and Gushii Khan who elevated the 5th Dalai Lama to the throne of Tibet. We will explore how Mongolians explained their conversion to Buddhism and the process of cultural borrowing that created new cultural identities, institutions and individuals that make Mongolian Buddhism unique, including the continued interaction with native shamanism. We will end with literature on the Stalinist purges of the 70 year communist period and the rebirth of Buddhism since the 1990’s. (E) 2 credits

REL 269 Buddhism Along the Silk Road
Richard Taupier - Spring 2014

This course will trace early Buddhism on the Indian sub-continent and its evolution through Central Asia along the Silk Road. We will consider the emergence of the Mahayana (Great Vehicle) and Vajrayana (Diamond Vehicle) Buddhist traditions and their development as they moved into Central and East Asian territories. We will examine Buddhism among the Chinese Northern Wei, Tang and Yuan dynasties, among the Turkic Uighurs and the ethnic Tibetan Tanguts, and finally the eastern and western Mongols and sub-groups who practiced Buddhism within the Russian Empire. (E) {H} 2 credits

REL 270a Japanese Buddhism: Ancient to 19th Century
Jamie Hubbard - Fall 2007

The development of Buddhism and other religious traditions in Japan from prehistory through the 19th century. Topics include doctrinal development, church/state relations, and the diffusion of religious values in Japanese culture, particularly in the aesthetic realm (literature, gardens, tea, the martial arts, etc.). {H} 4 credits

REL 270b Sites and Sights: A Pilgrim’s Guide to Pre-Modern Japanese Buddhism
Jamie Hubbard - Spring 2012

The development of Buddhism and other religious traditions in Japan from prehistory through the 19th century. Topics include doctrinal development, church/state relations, and the diffusion of religious values in Japanese culture, particularly in the aesthetic realm (literature, gardens, tea, the martial arts, etc.). {H} 4 credits

REL 271 Japanese Buddhism in the Contemporary World
Jamie Hubbard - Spring 2009

Aspects of contemporary Japanese religious life, including the impact of European thought, Buddhism and Japanese nationalism, the export of Zen and import of Christianity, contemporary monasticism, and Buddhist aesthetics. Particular attention to attempts at institutional reform within traditional Buddhist sects and the emergence of new religious movements. {H} 4 credits

REL 274 The Buddha: His Life and Teachings
Andrew Olendzki -Fall 2010

Few have had as much impact upon the world as Siddhartha Gotama Shakyamuni, known to us as the Buddha. Who was he, what sort of world did he inhabit, and what works did he leave behind? These are some of the questions that this course addresses. Beginning with challenges of interpretation and literary sources, the course offers an examination of the Buddha behind the many layers of legend and myth. It explores the major discourses which lay out his life, thought and teachings in their historical context, the changes they undergo over 2,500 years of tradition, and their continuous relevance. Enrollment limited to 35. (E) {H} 4 credits

REL 275 Religious History of South Asia: Ancient to Medieval
Andy Rotman - Fall 2007, 2009, Spring 2013

This course is an introduction to the literature, thought, and practice of religious traditions in India, from ancient times to the classical period. Readings will include materials from the Vedas, Upanishads, and epics, from plays and poetry, as well as Buddhist and Jain literature. Particular consideration will be given to the themes of dharma, karma, love, and liberation. {H} 4 credits

REL 276 Religious History of South Asia: Medieval and Modern Periods
Andy Rotman - Fall 2011, Spring 2008, 2009

An introduction to the ideas and practices of South Asian Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, Muslims, Sikhs, Parsis, and Jews, with an emphasis on how these religious identities are constructed and contested. Materials to be considered include philosophical writings, ritual texts, devotional poetry, comic books, legal treatises, newspaper clippings, personal memoirs, as well as ethnographic and popular films. {H} 4 credits

REL 277 Yoga Traditions
Steven Heim - Spring 2011

This course engages the philosophies and practices of yoga in ancient South Asian religious to modern global secular forms. Yoga entails training in postural, respiratory, and contemplative techniques for wellbeing. Yogic techniques are central to religions of ancient South Asian origin, wherein yoga is a means to such varied goals as knowing the true self, experiencing nirvana, meeting god, making good karma, and curing ailments. We will examine the roots of yogic practice in the Vedas, the Bhagavadgita, and its flowering in subsequent highly pluralistic world of yogas, including Patanjali, Hatha yoga, tantra, gurus, low impact exercise, and stress management. Enrollment limited to 35. (E) {H} 4 credits

REL 278 Religion in the Himalayas: Coexistence, Conflict, and Change
Constance Kassor - Spring 2014

This course examines the religious life of the Himalayan regions of India, Pakistan, Nepal, Tibet, and Bhutan, paying particular attention to issues surrounding the construction of religious identity. Through text, film, and art, we will explore practices in Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, and local traditions, and investigate the ways in which these practices negotiate political change and modernization. Topics include gender (in)equality in religious institutions and practices, insider/outsider representations of communities, and the intersection of religion and politics. (E) {H} 4 credits

REL 281 Gender, Religion, and Popular Culture in South Asia
Constance Kassor - Spring 2014

This course investigates the ways that religious practices influence the construction of gender identities in South Asia, and the ways that communities negotiate these influences. Through primary and secondary textual sources, as well as popular materials such as news articles, films, and comic books, we will explore the roles that women, men, and third gender people are expected to play in South Asian societies, as well as the roles that they actually play. We will consider the ways in which religious practices in South Asia can be said to enforce traditional gender roles as well as to challenge them. Topics to be considered include: contesting divine feminine energy (shakti) in contemporary Hinduism; Buddhist nuns’ struggle for full ordination in Sri Lankan and Tibetan communities; phallic imagery in domestic and religious ritual in Bhutan; and the appropriation of the Gai Jatra (Cow Festival) by LGBT communities in Nepal. (E) {S} 4 credits

REL 282 Violence and Non-Violence in the Religious Traditions of South Asia
Andy Rotman - Fall 2008, 2010, 2012

What are the implications of a nonviolent morality? When are war and sacrifice not murder? This course considers the rhetoric and phenomena of violence and non-violence in a variety of religious traditions in South Asia, both modern and premodern. Particular emphasis on the ethical and social consequences of these practices, and the politics of the discourse that surrounds them. Texts and films concerning Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, Christianity, and Islam. {H} 4 Credits

300-Level Courses
Seminars

PHI 310: Seminar in Recent and Contemporary Philosophy
Topic: Contemporary Developments in Buddhist Philosophy
Jay Garfield - Spring 2011

The last two decades have witnessed an explosion in scholarship on Buddhist philosophy, much of it drawing important connections between classical Indian, Tibetan and Chinese Buddhist thought and contemporary developments in Western philosophy. In this seminar we will read some of the most interesting books and articles that engage Buddhist philosophy from a modern Western perspective, with the aim of finding important philosophical ideas in these classical texts. {M/H} 4 credits

PHI 330: Seminar in the History of Philosophy
Topic: Nagarjuna
Jay Garfield - Spring 2010

This seminar will address the principal philosophical texts of the 2nd century CE Indian Buddhist philosopher Nagarjuna, the founder of the Madhyamaka school of Buddhist philosophy. We will read Mulamadhyamakakarika, Vigrahavyavartani and Ratnavali, as well as some pertinent canonical commentarial literature and recent scholarship. It is recommended that students have taken a previous course in Buddhist studies. 4 credits

PHI 330: Seminar in the History of Philosophy
Topic: Indian Madhyamaka

William Edelglass- Spring 2009

This special half-semester seminar will examine the account of emptiness in Indian and Tibetan Madhymaka and its role in grounding moral theory. We will read portions of Nagarjuna's Ratnavali (Precious Garland of Advice), Aryadeva's Catuhsataka (400 Stanzas), Candrakirti's Madhymakavatara (Introduction to the Middle Way) Santideva's Bodhicaryavatara (Guide to the Bodhisattva's Way of Life) along with some Tibetan commentarial material. Students will explore the way that metaphysics and ethics are connected in this philosophical tradition. Prerequisite: at least one intermediate level course in ethics, metaphysics or Buddhist philosophy. Offered one day per week 2 1/2 hrs from Spring break to end of semester. This special half-semester seminar will examine the account of emptiness in Indian and Tibetan Madhymaka and its role in grounding moral theory. We will read portions of Nagarjuna's Ratnavali (Precious Garland of Advice), Aryadeva's Catuhsataka (400 Stanzas), Candrakirti's Madhymakavatara (Introduction to the Middle Way) Santideva's Bodhicaryavatara (Guide to the Bodhisattva's Way of Life) along with some Tibetan commentarial material. Students will explore the way that metaphysics and ethics are connected in this philosophical tradition. 2 credits

PRS 302: Whose Voice? Whose Tongue? The Indian Renaissance and its Aftermath
Nalini Bhushan - Fall 2013
Nalini Bhushan, Jay Garfield - Fall 2008, 2009, 2011

The Indian Renaissance in the mid-19th century represented a resurgence of interest in and development of classical Indian culture and learning. It also involved an explosion of new art, political and social movements and philosophy arising from the confluence of indigenous Indian ideas and imports brought by British colonialists and foreign-returned Indians who traveled in the context of the colonial situation. The ferment generated by the renaissance fueled the Indian independence movement and is the context against which contemporary Indian society is constituted. We will examine India’s vast contributions to contemporary world culture against the backdrop of this fascinating period, reading the philosophy, art, theatre, poetry, politics and religious texts this period produced. Prerequisites: at least two intermediate level courses either in philosophy or south Asian history, including Indian history, literature, art or philosophy. Enrollment limited to 15 juniors and seniors. (E) {L/H} 4 credits

PRS 304 Happiness: Buddhist and Psychological Understandings of Personal Well-Being
Jamie Hubbard and Philip Peake (Psychology) - Fall 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012, Spring 2010

What is happiness? What is personal well-being? How are they achieved? This course will examine the core ideas of the Buddhist science of mind and how they are being studied and employed by psychologists, neuroscientists, cognitive scientists and psychotherapists. The focus of the course will be the notion of “happiness,” its cross-cultural and cross-disciplinary definition as well as the techniques advocated for its achievement by both the Buddhist and the psychologist. Prerequisite: PSY 111 or REL 105. Enrollment limited to 15 juniors and seniors. (E){S/N} 4 credits.

REL 360 Problems in Buddhist Thought
Topic: The Flowering of Chinese Buddhism
Peter Gregory - Spring 2008, 2009

The major traditions of thought and practice that came to characterize Chinese Buddhism developed during the eighth through twelfth centuries: Chan (Zen), Huayen, Tiantai, and Pure Land. The seminar will explore how the doctrinal innovations in Huayen and Tiantai were related to unique forms of practice that emerged in Chan and Pure Land. {H/L} 4 credits

Topic: Classical Buddhist Psychology and Philosophy of Mind
Andrew Olendzki - Spring 2014

The core teachings of the Buddha are deeply rooted in the workings of the mind: how it operates in daily life, what causes contribute to happiness and unhappiness, and how techniques of mental development can purify and transform the mind. This course consists of a close reading of specifically selected Pali texts which illuminate the early Buddhist understanding of the mind, senses, consciousness and the world of human experience. Special attention is given to how the theoretical models of mind developed in ancient India relate to contemporary issues in the philosophy of mind, and how the mindfulness practices of Buddhism are evoking new approaches to mental health and treatment. Prerequisite: one course in Buddhist traditions or permission of the instructor. {H} 4 credits

Topic: Enlightenment
Jamie Hubbard - Spring 2010, 2013

Buddhists the world over understand the Buddha as an enlightened being and Buddhahood as the highest goal of Buddhist practice, but there is little agreement beyond this. What do Buddhas know? Is enlightenment our innate nature or a nurtured quality? Is nirvana a state of joyous ecstasy or the elimination of all passions and pleasures? Can women be Buddhas? How can a Buddha simultaneously be free from all desire yet want to save all beings? Can Buddhas be found in the world today? Does this ideal still make sense in light of contemporary psychology? Is Prozac easier and faster than meditation? We will explore contemporary views of Buddhahood as well as earlier ideas drawn from the classical Theravada, Tibetan, and East Asian traditions. Prerequisite: one course in Buddhist traditions or permission of the instructor.{H} 4 credits

Topic: Zen in China and Japan
Peter Gregory - Spring 2012

The seminar will focus on a close reading of some of the formative texts in the development of the Zen tradition in China and Japan, beginning with the Platform Sutra and moving on to other texts chosen in accord with student interest. We will explore both their philosophical content and historical context. {H/L} 4 credits

375 South Asian Religious Literature
Topic: Visual Culture
Andy Rotman - Fall 2008

How does one make sense of what one sees in South Asia? What is the visual logic behind the production and consumption of images, sculpture, and film? This course considers the visual world of South Asia, focusing in particular on the religious dimensions of visuality. Topics include the divine gaze (darshana) in Hindu and Buddhist contexts, the role of god-posters (chromolithographs) in religious ritual, the function of temple sculpture, and the social significance of clothing as well as commercial films. {H/A} 4 credits