The worldwide resurgence of interest in Buddhist philosophy demonstrates that its ideals of logic, individualism, tolerance and freedom have appeal in the 21st century. Of the four major religions, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, and Islam, Buddhism alone makes no attempt to convert others or to persecute those whose beliefs are different. Its message of nonviolence and personal responsibility may be needed more now than ever.
This course examines the known historical facts of the Buddha's life. His teachings are introduced, including the Four Noble Truths, the Eightfold Path to Enlightenment, and the Five Noble Precepts. Participants will learn the nature of Karma, and the distinction between Rebirth in Buddhist philosophy and reincarnation as it is envisioned in Hinduism and other religions. Participants will analyze the history of Buddhist philosophy in the 2500 years since its inception and the differences among the three main branches into which Buddhism has evolved. Participants will have the opportunity to consider the nature of Nirvana and Enlightenment, and the distinction between the two. This course will also provide an overview of Buddhism as it becomes increasingly influential in the modern world, including the areas of art, architecture, science, politics, and culture.