Online Class: Buddhism 101

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Course Description


"The religion of the future will be a cosmic religion...arising from the experience of all things natural and spiritual as a meaningful unity.  If there is any religion that could cope with modern scientific needs, it would be Buddhism."  Albert Einstein


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.

Course Requirements

This course will not require you to have previous experience in any particular area but you should have a high school reading level. No books will be required.

Course Topics


Lesson 1: Who Was the Buddha?

Lesson 2: The Four Noble Truths of Buddhism

Lesson 3: The Eightfold Path

Lesson 4: The Five Precepts

Lesson 5: Karma

Lesson 6: The Cycle of Birth

Lesson 7: The History of Buddhism

Lesson 8: Buddhist Art and Architecture

Lesson 9: Roots and Branches

Lesson 10: Nirvana

Lesson 11: Modern Buddhism

Course Materials

All course material will be provided in the lessons and netlinks. There are no required materials to purchase before taking the class.

Grading Policy

Each lesson will include a lesson review quiz along with an assignment. Students will successfully complete this course by mastering all learning outcomes with 70% or higher overall grade.

Learning Outcomes

By successfully completing this course, students will be able to:
  • Know who Buddha is.
  • Describe The Four Noble Truths of Buddhism, the Eightfold Path, and the Five Precepts.
  • Define and recognize karma.
  • Describe the cycle of birth.
  • Know the history of Buddhism.
  • Describe Buddhist art and architecture.
  • Describe roots and branches of Buddhism.
  • Define nirvana, and
  • Demonstrate mastery of lesson content at levels of 70% or higher.

Assessment Guide

Assessment Points
An Introduction5
Lesson 1 Assignment25
Lesson 1: Who Was the Buddha?10
Lesson 2 Assignment25
Lesson 2: The Four Noble Truths of Buddhism14
Lesson 3: The Eightfold Path10
Lesson 4: The Five Precepts15
Lesson 5 Assignment25
Lesson 5: Karma10
Lesson 6: The Cycle of Birth15
Lesson 7: The History of Buddhism13
Lesson 8: Buddhist Art and Architecture12
Lesson 9: Roots and Branches14
Lesson 10: Nirvana11
Lesson 11 Assignment25
Lesson 11: Modern Buddhism14
The Final Exam41
Total Points:284

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