Attached are the details and examples for this assignment. You’ve completed one for me already for the Hinduism part of this class. You can choose the topic from the book.Book: The Miracle of Mindfulness by Thich Nhat Hanh
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THEO 203W-01: Hinduism and Buddhism
Theme Area: Faith and Reason
University Core Writing Intensive
Fisher Hall 625: 12:15-1:30 T/Th
Professor Daniel P. Scheid, Ph.D.
Fisher Hall 626
This course offers an in-depth exploration of two Asian religious traditions that continue to have a
global impact: Hinduism and Buddhism. What are their historical origins and how have they developed
over time? How are they lived out in everyday life? Most importantly, what wisdom do they offer, and
how might this wisdom become part of our lives? We will examine these traditions through their sacred
texts (e.g. Upanisads, Bhagavad Gita, Dhammapada), major figures (both classical figures such as
Krishna and the Buddha and classical thinkers like Vedanta Desika and Santideva), and by engaging in
conversations with local Pittsburgh communities. While there will be historical and cultural background,
the primary focus will be theological, attending to how these traditions conceive of: ultimate reality; the
human condition; liberation from suffering and human happiness; and inner mystical experiences and
forms of prayer and meditation. Writing assignments will assist students to identify the key theological
themes, both in classical texts, and in contemporary lived experience.
** This course serves as a Faith and Reason Theme Area Course in the University Core Curriculum.
** This course serves as a Writing Intensive Course.
Desired Learning Outcomes
By the end of the course students will be able to:
1) Faith and Reason Theme Area Objective: “Articulate how religious faith can play a role in the
critical analysis of social problems and in the choice of actions for their resolution”: We will
investigate how Hindus and Buddhists are reevaluating their traditions and employing key
theological and philosophical concepts to reinterpret humanity’s relationship to the Earth and to
the cosmos, as well as the specific practices they select to embody this worldview.
2) Faith and Reason Theme Area Objective: “Identify themes addressed by religious faith and
philosophy or the sciences and apply relevant methods for considering those shared themes”: We
will explore certain themes found in Hindu and Buddhist texts and compare them; moreover, we
will focus on debates within Hinduism and Buddhism on these key questions.
3) Identify the fundamental doctrines of the various strands of the Hindu and Buddhist traditions
4) Identify similar themes addressed by Hindu and Buddhist theologian/philosophers; practice and
demonstrate analytical skills by comparing themes across and within traditions.
5) Trace the historical development of these two traditions, the way they each impacted the
other, and how historical, social and cultural circumstances have influenced the theological
interpretation of sacred texts as well as religious beliefs and practices.
6) Articulate how Hinduism and Buddhism can play a role in the critical analysis of the ecological crisis
and shape the choice of personal actions and social changes that are necessary
7) Interpret the meaning of religious traditions in the lives of individual practitioners.
8) Learn how to be how to be open to the religious other and to critically engage those worldviews.
1) Kim Knott: A Very Short Introduction to Hinduism
2) Damien Keown: A Very Short Introduction to Buddhism
3) Barbara Stoler Miller, tr.: The Bhagavad Gita
4) Thich Nhat Hanh: The Miracle of Mindfulness
1. You are expected to complete your own work with honesty and integrity. Cheating,
plagiarism, collusion, or other activities inconsistent with academic policies will be dealt with
seriously and severely. All University policies concerning plagiarism will be enforced.
2. If there are any special needs due to a disability, contact the Office of Special Student Services
in 309 Duquesne Union (412-396-6657).
3. Electronic devices of any kind are not permitted during class. If your access to the reading is
electronic, write down (or print out) your notes and answers before class. Please shut off your
phone before class begins. Violations of this rule (e.g. texting during class) will sharply affect
4. Writing Center: students are encouraged to take advantage of the Writing Center’s services; getting
feedback benefits writers at all skill levels. For more information, call 412-396-5209, visit 216 College
Hall, or go to http://www.duq.edu/academics/resources-and-technology/writing-center.
1. Engaged class participation (including lectures, handouts, etc.) – 20% of your final grade
Class sessions will consist of lectures, videos, and discussions. Since discussions will be
connected mostly with the assigned readings, students should prepare by reading the assigned texts
before each class session.
** Key aspects of this will be:
1) Small Group Discussion: Students will be divided into two smaller groups, and each
group will meet for small group discussion at the end of class on certain weeks. The focus of these
discussions will be on primary texts – expect to read them closely, and to discuss them at length.
2) Reading Guides: Each day’s reading will have a set of questions contained in a
“Reading Guide.” Please fill these out as you do your reading and bring them to class. They will form
the structure of each day’s reading.
3) Visit to a Hindu/Buddhist Center: Each student is responsible for visiting a Hindu
Temple and a Buddhist Center during the semester. I will coordinate these trips for students, but all
students are expected to make the time to do this.
4) Written Reflections (2): Twice during the semester on assigned days, students will
write a 2-page analysis of the readings for that week. They will focus on the primary text/selected text,
and they will draw out 2-3 key themes and ideas from the text; a pertinent quotation that the student
finds interesting, compelling, confusing, etc.; and 2 discussion questions, either clarifying material in the
text or exploring further implications.
2. Two Exams – 40% (20% each). More information will be explained as the exams approach.
3. Final Paper – 40%: 10 page paper. We will use a scaffold model for writing the paper, building it
throughout the semester, with each portion contributing to the paper’s final grade, e.g.:
Initial proposal including thesis, working bibliography, research plan
Topics will be chosen in consultation with the professor. More information will be given during the
A (94-100%), A- (90-93%): Excellent. Student has exceeded expectations, doing exceptional
work in all areas
B+ (87-89%), B (84-86%), B- (80-83%): Very Good. Student has met expectations, performing
work in a skillful and careful manner.
C+ (77-79%), C (74-76%), C- (70-73%): Satisfactory. Student has met most expectations, but
improvement is needed in one or more areas.
D+ (67-69%), D (64-66%), D- (60-63%): Passing but unsatisfactory. Student has not met most
F (Below 60%): Failure. Student has not met basic expectations.
Course Schedule: Note: Syllabus may be changed at any time
January 10: Introduction to Course/Why and How To Engage Other Religious Traditions
Francis Clooney, S.J.: Deep Learning Across Traditions *
UNIT I: HINDUISM
January 15: Introduction to Hinduism/Buddhism/Religious Diversity
Damien Keown: Chapter 1
January 17: Introduction to Hinduism
Kim Knott: Chapters 1-2
Selections from the Vedas (including Atharva Veda 12.1: http://www.sacredtexts.com/hin/av/av12001.htm) *
Week 3 – Small Groups
January 22: Classical Text: The Upanisads
Kim Knott: Chapter 3
Selected Upanisads *
● Due on January 22, typed on a sheet of paper type: 1) Name: How you’d like to be called; 2)
your major(s), minors(s), your academic interests; 3) your hometown; 4) some organized
activities you enjoy (e.g., sports, choir, clubs, etc.); 5) best book you’ve read recently and why;
6) a brief description of your religious background, if any, and your relationship to religion; 7)
why you’re taking this class; or, something about Hinduism or Buddhism you’d like to learn; and
8) anything you’d like me to know about you.
January 24: Upanisads, Continued
Kim Knott: Chapter 4
Week 4 – Small Groups
January 29: Classical Text: Dharma and the Bhagavad Gita
Kim Knott: Chapter 5
Barbara Miller: “Introduction to the Bhagavad Gita”
Bhagavad Gita: Chapters 1-9
January 31: Writing Workshop: Proposals, Reflections, Thesis Statements
Week 5 – Small Groups
February 5: Dharma and the Bhagavad Gita
Kim Knott: Chapter 6
Bhagavad Gita: 10-18
February 7: Dharma and the Bhagavad Gita
Kim Knott: Chapter 7
Week 6 – Small Groups
February 12: Modern Hinduism
Kim Knott: Chapters 8-9
Selections, Mohandas Gandhi: My Experiments with Truth *
February 14: Hinduism, Living Tradition
Vasudha Narayanan: “Hinduism in Pittsburgh: Creating the South Indian ‘Hindu’
Experience in the United States” *
* Proposal Due
February 19: Visit to Hindu Temple
February 21: Hindu Ecology
Christopher Chapple: “Hindu Ecology” *
February 26: Hinduism: Summary
February 28: Hinduism Exam
Week 9: Spring Break
UNIT II: BUDDHISM
March 12: Introduction to Buddhism
Damien Keown: Chapter 2
Thich Nhat Hanh: 79-98
Buddhist Sutras, selections *
March 14: Introduction to Buddhism, Continued
Damien Keown: Chapter 3
* Detailed Outline Due
Week 11 – Small Groups
March 19: Classical Text: Dhammapada
Damien Keown: Chapter 4
Thich Nhat Hanh: Chapters 1-2
Dhammapada, Chapters 1-7
Damien Keown: Chapter 5
Week 12 – Small Groups
March 26: Writing Workshop: Revising Drafts
Thich Nhat Hanh: Chapters 3-4, and 111-128
* Bring in your Working Draft
Damien Keown: Chapter 7
Week 13 – Small Groups
April 2: Classical Buddhist Theologian
Damien Keown: Chapter 7
Santideva: A Guide to the Bodhisattva Way of Life *
Damien Keown: Chapter 8
Week 14 – Small Groups
April 9: Mahayana Scriptures
Damien Keown: Chapter 9
Thich Nhat Hanh: Chapters 5-7, and 129-140
April 11: Buddhist Ecology
Stephanie Kaza: “To Save All Beings” *
* Submit Rough Draft
April 16: Visit to Buddhist Center
April 18: Holy Thursday
April 23: Easter Holiday
April 25: Buddhism: Summary
April 30: Buddhism Exam
FINAL PAPER DUE FRIDAY, MAY 4: 3:00 p.m.
Hinduism and Buddhism
Reflection Paper Guidelines
Here are some tips and guidelines as you write your reflection papers:
1. Papers should be about two (2) pages. The bulk of this is likely going to focus on the primary
texts, though if your questions are complex they may take up more space.
2. Focus on 2-3 main themes. You could, for example, focus on a key passage and draw out 2-3
main ideas from that one passage, but be sure to put it in the context of the whole work.
3. Discussion Questions: These could go in a variety of directions, e.g. 1) Clarifying the text:
What does it mean when it states X? 2) Further implications: How would this apply to questions
Tips for Writing:
1. Avoid informal language: No “You” “Very” “So” “Really”
2. Cut unnecessary words: Pull the Weeds!
— It’s good to have some transitions between ideas and paragraphs, but keep it concise
— Good ideas shine more clearly when unnecessary phrases are not obscuring them
— Avoid explanations of process, e.g.: “This week we read the Laws of Manu, and I
found it really interesting that …”
3. Structure your writing:
— Use topic sentences that alert the reader what the paragraph will be about
— Focus on one main idea per paragraph – see symbol ¶ when I comment on your papers
– this means it should be a new paragraph.
WEEKLY REFLECITON: EXAMPLE 1
Precis #2 – Pope Francis: Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home (Chapters 1-3)
In this first portion of his encyclical letter, Pope Francis focuses on describing in general
terms what is going on in our world today with regard to climate change and eliminating poverty.
He describes first the effects of climate change that we’re feeling now such as rising sea levels
and increasing pollution of major water systems. He then describes the global inequality we’ve
created in the name of “progress” and how as Christians we need to acknowledge and help our
fellow man to achieve a better quality of life. He also describes how the Catholic faith directly
relates to our treatment of the land through Genesis, and how the Bible has been misconstrued to
promote the exploitation of the Earth rather than respect for it.
The first, and I believe most important, theme throughout these first three chapters is the
idea of “use and throw away” culture first mentioned on page 8. He describes modernity as using
the natural world under a sense of relativism “which sees everything as irrelevant unless it serves
one’s immediate interests” (pg. 59). Pope Francis suggests that today’s culture, therefore,
exploits the natural world for our own benefit, not the good of our common planet and that we
waste so much of what we take. He goes so far as to say that the “deified market” (pg. 27) is
what rules over our choices in how we treat the environment. He states that we were made in the
likeness of God to cooperate and till the land, but not exploit it. There is “a relationship of
mutual responsibility between human beings and nature” (pg. 33) and “no creature is selfsufficient” (pg. 42). Therefore, we must take care of nature and all of its creatures and it will
take care of us.
Continuing on this theme of mutual responsibility, the next key point Pope Francis
includes is that of loving relationships between humans. He states that we must take care of each
other on this Earth, and that by damaging the environment, we are most hurting the poorest and
most vulnerable members of our population. He states, “Each of us is willed, each of us is loved,
each of us is necessary,” (pg. 32) meaning that everybody has a place on this Earth and nobody
should be treated as being of a lower class because everyone is equal in God’s eyes. He quotes
St. John Paul II in saying that, “God gave the earth to the whole human race for the sustenance of
all its members, without excluding or favoring anyone” (pg. 45). Therefore, everyone needs to
be thought of when we dive into ecological issues because it affects every person on this planet.
Ignoring the poor and vulnerable would be a crime against humanity and a sin against God.
Two questions I would like to discuss are: 1) Are we killing future populations now with
our egregious consumption (pg. 46) or is this an overstatement? Can we reverse our effects? 2)
How can technology be properly utilized in a caring world without feeding into the technocratic
paradigm that the Pope so fears?
WEEKLY REFLECTION: EXAMPLE 2
In the seventh chapter of “Resisting Structural Evil,” the primary focus is on how
neighbor love can be the driving force to change the world’s problems. One of the main
quotes is that “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (165). A problem with the world,
however is that good and evil are commonly intertwined, so even good acts may have
unintended negative consequences (166). Moe-Lobeda discusses how love can have various
meanings that can lead to confusion regarding the “ethical implications” (168). She relates love
to God in that both are very knowable but yet unknowable at the same time. Next, the author
discusses the foundation of love and states that “God’s love is the foundation or root of human
love for God, self, others, and Earth” (169). In addition, the love of God that is in all of us
represents a “boundless power to love” (170). She believes that God’s love and thus the love
inside of us is transformative (170) and thus power and love are interconnected because in
order to implement love, you need something powerful (171). Neighbor love is a disposition
that is “cultivated in one’s practices” (172). Thus, in order for this neighbor-love to develop,
people must practice it. Moe-Lobeda believes that love is such a strong force and that “not to
follow the call to love then is, in some way, deadly” (172). In order for this love to have a global
impact, we need to recognize “the fact that all life is interrelated” (175). More specifically,
“public and private are not necessarily distinct” and “love’s relevance extends far beyond the
interpersonal to the social structure” (177). The next point the author makes is that neighbor
love can create justice. Regarding social justice, “where exploitation and oppression exist, love
requires action to replace structures of injustice with structures of justice” (180). As mentioned
earlier, for social justice to occur, the society must observe structural changes. Love is thus “an
emotion that motivates justice” (183).
In chapter eight, the focus is the direct measures of how neighbor-love can change
ecology and the economy. Moe-Lobeda starts off the chapter with a powerful statement:
“humankind is utterly dependent upon otherkind. They are taking care of us” (198). She says
how humans are “mud creatures” that are “made from the very elements that existed with the
big bang some 13.7 billion years ago and that comprise the soil” (199). Due to this
interconnectedness, “we are called to love the other-than-human parts of God’s beloved
creation, as well as the human” (200). The nonhuman parts of the Earth should teach us how to
act. As mentioned earlier in the book, human beings need to have a mindset change and believe
that change is possible. First, we must “situate our human economies in the Earth’s great
economy” (203). In addition, our idea of growth needs to be changed to something more
ecologically sustainable. Moe-Lobeda again discusses the ecological debt that richer people owe
towards the poorer people impacted the most. Rich people almost have to help the poor
because how could they be expected to develop eco-friendly methods when they are fighting to
survive. Furthermore, corporations need to not be treated like people with rights because they
surely don’t act like people. Also, the corruption of factories and corporations in poor areas
must end and decreased focus on profit should occur. The corporations aren’t held very
accountable, even though their actions impact numerous people. Further, the principle of “rule
by the people” has to now extend into the economic realm towards an “economic democracy.”
1. Do you believe that this love that Moe-Lobeda discusses is as powerful as she makes it
2. Have you ever heard of corporation having personal rights? What do you think of this?
3. Do you think that the “intertwined” nature of the world is really a powerful motivating
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