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Papers and Articles on Teaching Buddhism
Many of the articles referred to in this section are from From the Wheel to the Web: Teaching Buddhism in the Western Academy, to be published by Curzon Press in 2000. Like this Web site, From the Wheel to the Web is part of a project of the McGill Faculty of Religious Studies, funded by a grant from the Numata Foundation. From the Wheel to the Web contains papers presented at the Teaching Buddhism Conference, held at McGill University in October 1999, as well as other papers and articles on the subject of teaching Buddhism in the academy. 

To Articles

Here is an excerpt from the introduction to the volume by Dr. Victor Hori:

"The Teaching Buddhism Conference brought together teachers of all levels of undergraduate courses in Buddhism, from the freshman introductory course to such specialized upper level courses as Buddhism and Postmodern Philosophy. We were pleased to hear of the ingenuity displayed by teachers who had the difficult task of teaching Buddhism to students who were quite uninterested, even hostile, to Buddhism, such as Joanne Wotypka's introduction to Buddhism and Jeffrey Mayer's course on Zen. Several Conference participants shared lessons learned in experimenting with different skillful means, such as William Waldron on the use of scientific analogies in explaining Buddhist concepts and Rick Jarow on the use of the "Peripatetic Classroom." Others brought accounts of quite unique courses, like David Waterhouse's course on Judo or C. W. Huntington's course on meditation. Some, like O'Hyun Park and Todd Lewis, challenged us with presentations regarding the very nature of what we teach under the label Buddhism. And Mavis Fenn, Brett Greider and Francis Brassard presented different approaches to the impact of computer technology and the phenomenon of the World Wide Web to the teaching of Buddhism. Unfortunately for this volume, we were not able to obtain a text version of some of these presentations (Mayer, Huntington). However by compensation, this volume contains two original papers not presented at the Conference, Ronald Grime's "Zen and the Art of Failing at Teaching Zen and the Art of . . . " and my own, "Liberal Education and the Teaching of Buddhism," a reflection on Frank Reynold's keynote address.

"The subtitle of this volume, "From the Wheel to the Web," casts as wide a net as possible to include all the themes and questions which the participants brought to the Conference. "Turning the Dharma wheel" is the traditional metaphor for teaching Buddhism. Until the modern period, the teaching of Buddhism meant the teaching of Dharma as a living practice by senior monks to junior novices within the sangha community itself. Within the modern college or university, teaching Buddhism means the teaching of Buddhism as a secular subject from an analytical and critical point of view. With the advent of computer technology and the creation of the World Wide Web, not only is teaching being changed by new resources and techniques but Buddhism itself is being transformed into what some people have called a "fourth yana". What are the issues in teaching Buddhism from "The Wheel to the Web"?"

If you wish to find out more about From the Wheel to the Web click here.
  • All the abstracts of articles from From the Wheel to the Web are quoted from Dr. Victor Hori’s introduction to the volume.

Boisvert, Mathieu. "The Method of Interactive Writing and University Pedagogy." Teaching Theology and Religion 1 (Feb.1998) : 58-61.

"Abstract: For many years now, specialists in learning have remarked that a specific method of writing is used for the elaboration of interactive multimedia systems. This method of writing, which I qualify as interactive, has a primary objective: facilitating information access for the user. In this paper I propose an analysis of the different elements that characterize this method of writing and, more specifically, the different ways in which this new method can be integrated into the elaboration of magistral university courses without using any added computer technology. The professor would then resemble a multimedia system while the students would be the users of this system. . . . " (Boisvert 58). Boisvert, Mathieu, "Le Zen et l’Art de la Pédagogie Électronique," Sciences religieuses / Studies in Religion 25 (Sept. 1996) : 99-105. "Résumé: Cet article présente les résultats d’un projet réalisé dans le cadre d’UN séminaire de formation pédagogique offert par l’American Academy of Religion et le Lilly Foundation. Ce projet avait pour fin d’intégrer l’usage de l’Internet (plus particulièrement d’UN group de discussion éléctroniques) afin de stimuler les échanges entre les étudiants et étudiantes et de les inciter à préparer à fond la matière prévue pour la semaine. En outre, CE project leur a permis de se familiariser avec l’Internet, ou outil de recherche que pourrait fort bien s’avérer indispensable pour leur recherche. CET article consiste essentiellement à résumer les méthodes pédagogiques employées, leurs avantages et désavantages, ainsi que les réactions des étudiants et étudiantes face à une telle approche" (Boisvert 99).

"Summary: This article presents the results of a project that was completed as a result of participation in the Lilly Teaching Workshop of the American Academy of Religion (1993-1994). This project aimed at integrating the use of Internet (more specifically electronic discussion groups) in order to stimulate exchanges between students, and to encourage them to prepare thoroughly their weekly reading material. Moreover, this project allowed students to familiarize themselves with the Internet, a research tool that may prove extremely useful in their future academic career. This article sums up the pedagogical methods used, their advantages and disadvantages as well as the student reactions to this particular approach" (Boisvert 99). 

Claxton, Guy, "Buddhism and Education: Dharma Goes to School." URL: http://www.peckham.demon.co.uk/15educ.htm An on-line article on teaching Buddhism to adolescents. How to present the spiritual values and ideals of Buddhism in a practical, accessible way (J.B. ed). Education About Asia 2 (Spring 1997). A Symposium on Hermann Hesse’s Siddhartha. Robert Mossman. "Siddhartha Still Works." : 6-8. Recommends Hermann Hesse’s Siddhartha for introducing Indian Buddhism and illustrating both Buddhist and Hindu themes. Claims the themes of truth, searching and self-discovery are particularly compelling to high school age students (J.B. Ed.). Catherine Benton. "Teaching Indian Buddhism with Siddhartha—or Not?" : 9-13. Claims that Hermann Hesse’s Siddhartha is not an accurate portrayal of Indian Buddhism because the author allowed Euro-American thought and values to distort his description of Indian Buddhist thought and practice (J.B. Ed.). Mark MacWilliams. "Siddhartha—A Journey to the East?" : 13-15. Suggests that Hesse’s novel can be useful in the classroom when it is taught as one way of understanding the Buddhist spiritual journey and when compared with other understandings of the Buddha’s life. Acknowledges that the account of Siddhartha’s spiritual quest in Hesse’s work is shaped within the context of Hesse’s own thought, particularly his Protestant faith (J.B. Ed.). Joe Gawrys. "Going Beyond Hesse’s Siddhartha." : 16. Writes that Hesse does not always give an accurate account of Hinduism and Buddhism and therefore claims that other, explicitly Buddhist texts, may be used more effectively in an introductory course on Buddhism. Acknowledges that reading Siddhartha can be useful and enjoyable for an exercise in evaluating Hesse’s portrayal of Buddhism (J.B. Ed.). Fenn, Mavis. "Teaching Buddhism by Distance Education." From the Wheel to the Web: Teaching Buddhism in the Western Academy. Eds. Victor Sogen Hori, Richard P. Hayes, and James Mark Shields. London: Curzon, 2000. 197-211. "Mavis Fenn’s presentation, "Teaching Buddhism by Distance Education: Traditional and Web-based Approaches," goes beyond a discussion of distance education and gives us an overview of the entire range of issues involved in developing computer-based courses of instruction. It is clear, she reports, that most faculty are uninterested in attempting to develop computer-based courses for a variety of reasons: some have concerns over course quality, universities are not supportive, most instructors feel themselves technologically untrained, many have ideological objections. In attempting to evaluate the worth of web-based courses, Fenn found that there were few analytic studies, although there was some anecdotal evidence. The evidence did indicate that while web-based courses are more accessible to larger populations, certain categories of people were not included--those who are sight-- or hearing--impaired and those who do not have access to a computer (like the poor). The number one objection to web-based courses is the giving up the classroom. Teachers establish their identity as teachers in the classroom and some students (not all) prefer the camaraderie of the classroom to anonymous and individual computer learning (other students prefer the security of anonymity, away from the gaze of other students). All teachers who have developed computer-based courses agree that such courses are extremely labor intensive, both to develop and then to maintain once in operation. Furthermore, not only do most universities not provide adequate technical support, some universities are pressuring faculty into creating computer based courses and then taking possession of them. The faculty of York University in Toronto went on strike over this issue. Despite all these negative factors, Fenn found that faculty who had actually developed distance education courses were in general quite positive about the pedagogical value of their courses. They found it exciting to have students in very distant countries and were pleased at the more active participation of the students. Though there have been few rigorous studies of web-based distance learning courses, Fenn’s paper gives a capsule summary of the issues and anecdotal evidence."  Gardner, John Robert. "Magically Storming the Gates of Buddhahood: Extensible Text Technology (XML/ XSLT) as a Simulacrum for Research." International Journal of Tantric Studies 4 (June 2000). URL: http://www.asiatica.org/ "An (un)surprising conceptual parallel between Tantric and Vedic practices of mantra manipulation, and the very latest in computer information technology--XML, or Extensible Markup Language--provides scholars with unique new research possibilities. The well-known procedures by which mantras are selected and extracted for ritual application -- e.g., vidhaana -- as well as transposition and intertwining -- e.g., viharaNam -- can be almost directly translated into a powerful new computer tool, called Extensible Stylesheet Language for Transformations (XSLT) and used on electronic versions of shrutii. . . ." (Abstract quoted from International Journal of Tantric Studies). Greider, Brett. "XXXXXXXXXXXXX." From the Wheel to the Web: Teaching Buddhism in the Western Academy. Eds. Victor Sogen Hori, Richard P. Hayes, and James Mark Shields. London: Curzon, 2000. 212-234. "Brett Greider, in his article 'XXXXXXXXXXXXX,' examines the many-fold impact of the Internet on teaching Buddhism. The World Wide Web presents students and teachers with a wealth of resource material, much of it never before available to the average person--on-line sutra texts, specialized dictionaries, access to expert scholars and teachers, discussion groups with colleagues in every part of the world, databases of information. The information on the Web is quite different from the information that presently resides in our libraries for web information is predominantly organized around images rather than text, tangentially hyper-linked together. More and more these images are moving images rather than still images and more and more they come with an audio element allowing us to hear as well as see. Web information is interactive; it allows, even requires, input from the person browsing. To access the Web, one needs computer technology with which students are often far more familiar than are teachers. To use the Web as a teaching tool, teachers have to become the students of their students. This disparity creates the possibility of a new teaching dynamic pairing the student's expertise in Web computer technology with the teacher's expertise in content. Greider describes successful Web projects he has devised. Some projects organize students to do collaborative work with each other. Some help students overcome the barrier of accepting the "otherness" of foreign cultures. Others involve cooperating with students in a school across the continent in joint projects." Greider, Brett. "Academic Buddhology and the Cyber-Sangha: Researching and Teaching Buddhism through Multimedia and Internet Sources." Presentation at the American Academy of Religion Upper Midwest Regional Conference, St. Paul MN. URL:http://www.uwec.edu/academic/curric/greidebe/BMRB/teach/academic_buddhology.AARpaper.htm
"Abstract. The World Wide Web has become a global cultural phenomenon, and constitutes a field of material culture for religionists to study. A variety of religious perspectives on the Web are emerging, raising numerous issues about its usage, ethics, contents and possibilities. Serious reflections and perceptions of the Web’s religious phenomena have emerged, forming larger theoretical frameworks about its meaning and potential. Critical thinking religious perspectives range in a spectrum from the Web as a dangerous and insidious matrix of delusions, to the Web as evolutionary human consciousness arising. Ethical considerations include privacy issues, censorship, and morality issues, both as social dangers and as potential for humanity’s coming of age. The immense range of contents, community, freedom of expression, and artistic potentiality presents an opportunity to study the horizon of an emerging global civilization. This is a wave of communication technology that changes the way we teach and learn, whether viewed skeptically as the globalization process paving over the past, or as the emergence of a “planetary connectivity” communicating a new potential for collaboration. It does not displace the conversations between students and teachers nor the chalk-dust of our lecture halls; nor will it go away as post-techno neo-Luddites may wish; but rather the Web offers an unprecedented way (adumbrating our current methods) of “tech-knowledgy” thinking. This emerging interwoven and networked system of intelligible symbols is hyper-linked to circles of teachers and students, religious practitioners, and cultural activists world-round. It constitutes an extraordinary educational paradigm shift, and an emerging religious phenomenon. A range of pertinent issues, both practical and theoretical, emerge for consideration: how do we approach this power of communication with skillful means? (Quoted from Brett Greider's on-line article, URL listed above.)".
Grimes, Ron. "Zen and the Art of Not Teaching ‘Zen and the Arts’: An Autopsy," From the Wheel to the Web: Teaching Buddhism in the Western Academy. Eds. Victor Sogen Hori, Richard P. Hayes, and James Mark Shields. London: Curzon, 2000. 155-169. "Ron Grimes has been teaching a course called "Zen Meditation, Zen Art" for some twenty years. In the beginning (back in the 70’s) it was a course which overflowed with excited students eager to get Buddhist enlightenment and thrilled to do experimental Zen course assignments. That was in the old days. In his article, "Zen and the Art of Not Teaching ‘Zen and the Arts’: An Autopsy," Grimes records his frustration at trying to teach this past year’s crop of students--lethargic, uncurious, incredulous, indifferent. The students also seemed to have been in the thrall of fixed ideas. Despite the fact that Grimes emphasized that in Zen monasteries, monks engaged in highly ritualized behavior, strictly obeyed orders from higher up, and did everything possible to de-emphasize individuality, the students inevitably decided that Zen was spontaneity, naturalness and personal involvement. The stereotype of spontaneity took firm hold on the students who proceeded to write the most rigid and wooden papers about naturalness. As example of being present in the moment, one student submitted photographs which she had taken in high school five year previous. Grimes performs an autopsy on more than one corpse however. At the same time as he was teaching the Zen course, he was also teaching another course, "Writing Religion," a required course for honors students in their final year. This course, designed to develop writing skills, turned out to be a constantly bubbling pot of on-the-spot improvisation, play combined with hard work, friendship and fun. Ironically the writing course seemed to be much more Zen than the Zen course. Grimes observes that that which he would do, he did not do, and that which he would not do, he did. Perhaps that’s Zen, perhaps not. But that is what happens in teaching." Hayes, Richard P. "The Internet as Window onto American Buddhism." American Buddhism: Methods and Findings in Recent Scholarship. Eds. Duncan Ryuken Williams and Christopher S. Queen. Richmond, UK: Curzon Press, 1999. 168-179. 

Hori, Victor. "Liberal Education and the Teaching of Buddhism." From the Wheel to the Web: Teaching Buddhism in the Western Academy. Eds. Victor Sogen Hori, Richard P. Hayes, and James Mark Shields. London: Curzon, 2000. 170-193.

"Liberal Education and the Teaching of Buddhism," starts out as a reflection on Frank Reynold’s paper on "Teaching Buddhism in the Postmodern University." I argue that in addition to examining the intellectual content of a curriculum devoted to liberal education, as Reynolds does, one also needs to examine the institutional practices of the university--the behavior of individual teachers and instructors, administrative and curricular officers, committees, departments, student advisors, disciplinary boards, and so on. These people and offices all set policy and make many individual decisions guided by the politically correct notion of the "autonomy of the student" The institutional definition, as opposed to the intellectual definition, of "liberal education" is education to respect and enhance the autonomy of the student. Halfway through the paper, I switch position and start to describe teaching techniques which I have created in imitation of techniques I learned in a Japanese Zen monastery. Some of these are quite successful but they depend on elements which are usually considered illiberal--rote repetition and imitation, hierarchy and authority in the classroom, emphasis on groups not individuals, and so on. I defend these practices as liberal not in the politically correct sense of promoting "autonomy" but in the Buddhist sense of freedom. Rather than trying to liberate students by making them "free from" any relation with other people and their environment, I argue that liberal education ought to make them "free in" their relations with other people and their environments. " Jarow, Rick. "The Peripatetic Class: Buddhist Traditions and Myths of Pedagogy." From the Wheel to the Web: Teaching Buddhism in the Western Academy. Eds. Victor Sogen Hori, Richard P. Hayes, and James Mark Shields. London: Curzon, 2000. 107–116. "Part of Rick Jarow's paper, "The Peripatetic Class: Buddhist Traditions and Myths of Pedagogy," strikes again at the question "What is 'The Study of Buddhism'?" raising issues similar to those raised in the papers by Prebish, Lewis and Park. For Jarow, the standard paradigm of university teaching where we treat our subject matter with "disembodied objectivity" (Jarow 106), where the emphasis is on the verbal and analytic (Jarow 107), where we try to understand religion as a "pure intellectual enterprise" (Jarow 107), is incapable of seeing entire areas of religious experience. He focusses on the "myths" that inform present pedagogical discourse: the assumption that knowledge is acquired intellectually and not in embodied form, the focus on individuals rather than on social bodies, the assumption that we teach best in highly structured classrooms. As antidote to these strictures, Jarow has taught the "peripatetic class" in which he takes his class for a walk around the Vassar campus. He found, that "the walking class complemented the text-based classroom, with embodied experiences becoming mnemonic devices that brought home a number of concepts that had previously been difficult to grasp" (Jarow 111). A walk through plowed fields (the Vassar campus is itself a farm) makes concrete the story of the Buddha cautioning a farmer not to plow up a snake and the question of nonviolence towards living things is no longer just an abstract philosophical question. The sight of a caterpillar triggers a discussion of "who transmigrates from body to body" in Buddhism (Jarow 112). At the end, Jarow asks his students if they were aware of their feet touching the ground and initiates a discussion on mindfulness (Jarow 113). In this experiment, the simple act of using the body to go on a walk opens up other channels of learning." Jenkins, Stephen. "Black Ships, Blavatsky and the Pizza Effect: Critical Self-Consciousness as a Thematic Foundation for Courses in Buddhist Studies." From the Wheel to the Web: Teaching Buddhism in the Western Academy. Eds. Victor Sogen Hori, Richard P. Hayes, and James Mark Shields. London: Curzon, 2000. 71-83. "Many observers have noted that unlike the case of Christianity or Judaism, Buddhist Studies is a Western discipline about an Asian religion. Teachers of Buddhism in North America usually do not share the same cultural background of the people, texts and religious institutions they teach about. They worry that in their teaching they may be unwittingly distorting the subject matter by viewing it through a cultural lens. Even though teachers may be sensitive to the danger of cultural distortion, there is no assurance that students will be so careful and self-conscious. Almost all of the Conference participants addressed this issue in one way or another, but Stephen Jenkins in his paper, "Black Ships, Blavatsky and the Pizza Effect: Critical Self-consciousness as a Thematic Foundation for Courses in Buddhist Studies," dealt with it most explicitly. At his college, Jenkins had the task of preparing students for an international studies program where they would be entering into, and living in, another culture. Some students inevitably begin by treating a foreign culture as just an object and think they are doing little more than studying an exotic world view. To get students past this stage, Jenkins emphasizes the "feedback loop" (the "pizza effect") to show students they are involved in constructing, and then misperceiving, the foreign culture they are studying. Just as it was Americans who made the elaborate pizza and then mistook it for an indigenous Italian product and just as Italians have co-opted the American pizza and now make it for American tourists, so also it was Westerners who created the rational protestant Buddhism of modern Sri Lanka and then mistook it for an indigenous Sri Lankan product, and so also did a Sri Lankan Buddhist spokesman, Dharmapala, sell this protestanized Buddhism back to West when he appeared at the World Parliament of Religions in 1893. There are several other examples in Jenkins' paper. The epistemological lesson he draws is that the study of other cultures provides an opportunity where our own subjectivity as Westerners can dialogue with the subjectivity of the culture under study. This meeting of subjectivity with subjectivity constitutes inter-religious dialogue between cultures and intra-religious dialogue within the mind of a single student or scholar." Levi, Antonia. "The Animated Shrine: Using Japanese Animation to Teach Japanese Religion." Education About Asia 2.1 (Spring 1997) : 26-29. Anime, Japanese animation, can be used to familiarize students with the themes and deities of Japanese religion and allow students to study the traditions in light of contemporary Japanese interpretations. The article recommends films that relate to Buddhist philosophy and values (J.B. Ed.). Lewis, Todd. "Representations of Buddhism in Undergraduate Teaching: The Centrality of Ritual and Story Narratives." From the Wheel to the Web: Teaching Buddhism in the Western Academy. Eds. Victor Sogen Hori, Richard P. Hayes, and James Mark Shields. London: Curzon, 2000. 39-56. "Todd Lewis notes that as now practised in the West, Buddhist Studies as a research discipline has developed into the philological and philosophical study of classical Buddhist texts. But in most Buddhist societies where literacy was rare, for the greater part of history only the elite in the native population wrote and read such texts. The contents of such texts were closed to the major part of Buddhist populations for whom Buddhism meant, not philosophical scholarship, but practical teachings and daily ritual directed at pragmatic well-being, moral cultivation and seeking after nirvana. Lewis points out that when elite scholars in the modern West define the textual work of elite scholars in the Buddhist past as the only "true Buddhism", then the popular story-telling and ritual practices which engaged the attention of ordinary Buddhists will be dismissed as "vulgarization" (Lewis 184). There is also the danger that when Western scholars go seeking for it, their notion of "true Buddhism" may be colored by their own Protestant assumptions about the nature of true religion (Lewis 182). As antidote, Lewis recommends the cultivation of a "sociological imagination of Buddhism" that recognises that the shape of Buddhism in any society was determined not so much by philosophical ideas but by institutions such as monasteries, shrines, charities, lay associations, and so on, institutions where economics, politics, medicine, art were as important as meditation and in which lay people were as influential as ordained sangha members (Lewis 183). He focusses on story narratives as the central texts in Buddhist societies and examines popular ritual to learn how Buddhist doctrine was understood and practised by common people." Mattis, Susan. "Introducing Buddhism in a Course on Postmodernism." From the Wheel to the Web: Teaching Buddhism in the Western Academy. Eds. Victor Sogen Hori, Richard P. Hayes, and James Mark Shields. London: Curzon, 2000. 141-152. "Susan Mattis notes that despite the lip service that colleges and universities pay to the goal of learning about and from other cultures, in fact, with the exception of certain select fields, their programs of studies still often focus only on Western culture. In her paper, "Introducing Buddhism in a Course on Postmodernism," she tries to show how a course in Western philosophy can legitimately be extended to include Buddhist philosophy. The Buddhist philosophy section cannot just be arbitrarily tacked on at the end but must be integrated with the themes and concepts of the original course. Mattis begins her course on postmodernism by reading Neitzsche and Saussure as progenitors to Derrida, the initiator of postmodernism. For each of these authors, she emphasizes those concepts and claims which have some parallel to Madhyamaka thought which she will introduce later. For example, she starts with Nietzsche's criticism of the idea that a thing has a constitution in itself freed from all its relationships with other things. Later on in the course, she can re-phrase this point in Buddhist terminology: an entity cannot possess self-essence (svabhàva) (Mattis, 156). Several other of Nietzsche's ideas are first laid down so that later they can be re-phrased in the terminology of Nàgàrjuna and the Madhyamaka. There is not a complete parallel between Nietzsche and Nàgàrjuna because Nàgàrjuna justifies his position using arguments about the nature of language while language is less of a concern for Nietzsche. To supply the linguistic turn in postmodern thought, Mattis studies Saussure, the founder of structuralism. Saussure repudiates the traditional reference theory of language that the meaning of a concept lies in its reference to an object outside language. Instead he sees the meaning of a word as entirely determined by its difference from other words in the language. Language is not a system of meanings which mirrors the intuited objects of the world; rather the concepts of language divide up the world determining how "objects" will be intuited. Derrida's own ideas of language which further develop Saussure's ideas do not all have parallels with Madhyamaka thought but his critique of "logocentrism"–the belief that there is a fundamental principle which exists independently and is the foundation for everything else–does. Mattis finds that on some points the prior study of postmodernism aids a better understanding of Buddhist philosophy. For example, students often misinterpret the Madhyamaka position thinking it a kind of idealism asserting that the things of ordinary cognition are just "fabrications" of a solipsistic consciousness (Mattis, 161) or mistakenly assume that Buddhist emptiness implies that nothing has value in life (Mattis, 162). Veterans of her postmodernism course will be inoculated against these mistakes." Muller, Charles. "Digitization and the Revolution in the Media of Buddhist and Asian Studies: Where We Have Come, and Where We Are Going. Toyo Gakuen University. Oct. 1999. URL: http://www.human.toyogakuen-u.ac.jp/~acmuller/articles/mediarevolution.htm A discussion of the potential of Internet technology in Asian Studies and the difficulties that can arise. Also discusses the different applications of this technology (J.B. Ed.).  Murphy, Anne, and Frederic Wong. "Religious Ideas and Arts: Middle School Lessons." Education About Asia 2.2 (Fall 1997) : 38-44. Provides lesson plans for the following topics: Images of the Buddha from South and Southeast Asia, Buddhist Art from China, The Story of Guan-yin, and Symbols Across Cultures (J.B. Ed.).  Park, O’Hyun. "Moving Beyond the ‘ism’: A Critique of the Objective Approach to Teaching Buddhism." From the Wheel to the Web: Teaching Buddhism in the Western Academy. Eds. Victor Sogen Hori, Richard P. Hayes, and James Mark Shields. London: Curzon, 2000. 57-68. "If the study of the written word is one end of a spectrum, then Professor O'Hyun Park's approach to teaching Buddhism represents the other. He argues that although Buddhism as a religious and cultural phenomenon is always historically and sociologically conditioned, nevertheless its essential core is meditation, or "ontological silence or ontological enquiring-within" (Park 49). In his teaching, he tries to transcend sectarian division between Theravada and Mahãyãna Buddhism to get at their commonality, the "existential awareness" (Park 53), the "living reality of Buddhism" (Park 54). He actively engages students in the exploration of nondual reality, a reality which is not attainable through the usual academic study of religion, and encourages his students to maintain a mantra or a gong-an throughout the duration of the course. He is quite aware that his way of teaching Buddhism is quite different from the way used in most academic courses but defends this on the ground that the nature of the subject matter requires it: " . . . the methodology of teaching and learning has to be ontologically related to its substance. The ontological meeting of method and substance is from the Buddhist perspective no other than one's true selfhood" (Park 54). A critic could charge that Park's way of teaching Buddhism is nothing more than "dogmatic affirmation" (Park 52), but things are not so simple. Park is a professor of Buddhism and a Christian minister (56) and so he cannot be accused of trying to indoctrinate students into his faith. For his part, the nonduality found in Buddhism is a welcome antidote to the rigid dualism found in both Christian theology and the traditional academic study of Buddhism." Prebish, Charles. "Buddhist Studies in the Academy: History and Analysis."From the Wheel to the Web: Teaching Buddhism in the Western Academy. Eds. Victor Sogen Hori, Richard P. Hayes, and James Mark Shields. London: Curzon, 2000. 17-36. "In the second keynote address, "Buddhist Studies in the Academy: History and Analysis," Prof. Charles Prebish recounted the story of the birth of Buddhist Studies in North America. He first told us of the European antecedents and the several individual scholars who pioneered the study of Buddhism in North America in the first half of the twentieth century. Despite their work, however, as late as the immediate post-war period, there were few universities offering courses in Buddhism. Then in the 1960s, Buddhist Studies started to emerge as an identifiable discipline and then during the years of the Vietnam War it experienced a boom. Using data from two surveys he conducted in 1992 and 1995, Prebish painted for us a much more precise picture of the growth of the field. One measure of the sudden growth is the number of doctoral degrees awarded in the field. In the 70-year period between 1900 and 1971, there were just under 100 doctoral degrees awarded in North American schools with dissertation topics on Buddhism. But in the next quarter century, there were nearly 1000 such degrees (Prebish 15). At the same time, professional organizations for Buddhist scholars, such as the International Association of Buddhist Studies and the Buddhism Section of the American Academy of Religion, got started and grew steadily. 

"Aside from giving us precise measurements to chart the growth of Buddhist Studies, Prebish pointed us toward two issues of substance. First, a significant number of Buddhist scholars are also practitioners who have made a strong personal commitment to Buddhism (Prebish 21-25). Second, the definition of the field, Buddhist Studies, seems to be shifting away from a narrow philological and philosophical study of classical Buddhist texts to a wider study of Buddhisms, both past and present, in their historical, social and cultural contexts (Prebish 31-32). These issues–What is the relation of the teacher of Buddhism to the subject matter of Buddhism? And what is the study of Buddhism itself?–arose again and again throughout the Conference."

Reynolds, Frank. "Teaching Buddhism in the Post-modern University: Understanding, Critique, Evaluation." From the Wheel to the Web: Teaching Buddhism in the Western Academy. Eds. Victor Sogen Hori, Richard P. Hayes, and James Mark Shields. London: Curzon, 2000. 3-16. "Professor Frank Reynolds, in the first keynote address "Teaching Buddhism in the Postmodern University: Understanding, Critique, Evaluation," reminded us that not just in Buddhist Studies but in all of liberal education, question and doubts have been raised about just what it is we are doing in university teaching. In his keynote address, against which later speakers frequently positioned themselves, he gave us a short history lesson showing that the very notion of liberal education had evolved from a curriculum based on a Renaissance humanistic study of core classical texts through a modernist curriculum emphasizing the study of Reason in both the physical and social sciences (2-3). In the present postmodern period, where even the notion of objective Reason is being criticized as just another culturally determined, politically manipulated, tool, rather than fulfilling its announced role of education to liberate the mind, liberal education is being accused of cultural chauvinism and of promoting ideological agendas. In this context, how do we teach Buddhism and how do we justify our choices?

"Reynolds has grown tired of the usual introduction to Buddhism course which begins with the life of the Buddha, goes on a travel tour through Buddhist doctrinal history and ends with a snapshot of "Buddhism Today". Instead he suggests a new kind of course that is based in the present not in history, that is oriented to practice not doctrine, that takes seriously the notion that there is a Buddhist experience to which students can be introduced. He wants to expand the usual upper level course that focuses on the reading of a primary text to include an investigation of the use of the text as a ritual sourcebook, or political ideology. In all of these courses, he emphasizes the teacher's display of well-honed interpretive skills and the acquisition of the same by the student. These interpretive skills include the skills of sympathetic understanding, critical analysis and personal evaluation or judgment (Reynolds, 7-8). The goal of teaching these courses in Buddhism is not merely to master a certain body of texts and its doctrines but to be thoroughly exposed to the lived worlds of other people and in response to learn how to sympathize well, criticize well and personally evaluate well (Reynolds 9-12)." 

Reynolds, Frank. "Introducing Buddhism." Teaching the Introductory Course in Religious Studies: A Sourcebook. Atlanta: Scholars Press. 1991. 71-77.  Provides advice on creating a well-balanced introductory course on Buddhism for liberal arts students that is neither simplified, nor one-sided. Identifies three complexes central to Buddhism as a holistic religious tradition. Recommends introductory textbooks (J.B. Ed.). Sjoquist, Douglas. "Identifying Buddhist Images in Japanese Painting and Sculpture." Education About Asia 4.2 (Winter 1999) : 27-36. A guide for teaching Japanese iconography using art. Discusses principle Nyorai (Tatahagata), bosatsu (bodhisattva), mudras, and means of identifying them (J.B. Ed.). Streng, Frederick J. "Understanding the Self: East and West--An Interdisciplinary Study of a Theme." Tracing Common Themes: Comparative Courses in the Study of Religion. Eds. John B. Carman and Steven P. Hopkins. Atlanta: Scholars Press. 1991. 155-164.  This article describes a course which compares Eastern and Western views of self, with an aim towards exploring "different cultural patterns of awareness," disciplinary interpretations, and personal experiences of self-consciousness. Includes a course syllabus and studies several Buddhist traditions (J.B. Ed.). Waldron, William. "An end-Run Round Entities: Using Scientific Analogies toTeach Basic Buddhist Concepts." From the Wheel to the Web: Teaching Buddhism in the Western Academy. Eds. Victor Sogen Hori, Richard P. Hayes, and James Mark Shields. London: Curzon, 2000. 84-91. "William Waldron's paper, "An end-Run Round Entities: Using Scientific Analogies to Teach Basic Buddhist Concepts," starts with the problem that the usual language which teachers and students have inherited from Western religion and philosophy is not suitable for discussing Buddhism. Such language, with its substantialist and theistic presuppositions, obstructs the attempt to convey the Buddhist worldview which explicitly challenges the notions of substance and theism. Waldron finds that modern science, particularly biology, possesses working vocabulary, explanations and concepts without substantialist and theistic presuppositions and that using these allows him to do an "end-run" round the substantialist entities which students automatically expect to find and which is affirmed by the language of Western religion and philosophy. It should be noted that Waldron is not arguing the intellectual claim that there is a structural parallel between Buddhism and biology, in the way that some authors have argued for Buddhism and modern physics implying that early Buddhism somehow foresaw modern physics. Rather his aim is heuristic; it is merely a skillful means, using familiar examples, to get students to understand the unfamiliar Buddhist ideas of dependent arising, designation, non-self. Waldron's account gives a step by step description of his presentation with the usual student reactions and thus generously makes his teaching technique available to all teachers." Waterhouse, David. "Buddhism and the Teaching of Jådº." From the Wheel to the Web: Teaching Buddhism in the Western Academy. Eds. Victor Sogen Hori, Richard P. Hayes, and James Mark Shields. London: Curzon, 2000.119-140. "The use of the body is the central feature in David Waterhouse's course on Jådº. Waterhouse has been teaching courses on Buddhism and Buddhist art for thirty years and since 1990 has been teaching a 3rd year undergraduate course called in Japanese Culture in which two hours a week are devoted to the usual in-class lecture and two hours are devoted to actual Jådº practice in the dºjº (training hall). His paper, entitled "Buddhism and the Teaching of Jådº," first begins with history making it clear that Buddhism had little influence on the development of Jådº (60) but that Buddhist elements can been found in Jådº and commentators have found jådº consonant with Buddhist principles (Waterhouse, 62-4). In their weekly two hours in the practice hall, the students are introduced to, and drill themselves in, warm-up exercises, breakfalls, and a selection of techniques from each of the major groups of throws, immobilization techniques and locks. In addition to the usual academic papers, Waterhouse also asks his students to write an ungraded 300 words "Impressions of Jådº." The students report they find it a novel experience to wear the white Jådº uniform and follow the dºjº rituals of lining up, bowing, kneeling, sitting in silence. They experience again physical contact with another person and experience for the first time imposing and submitting to powerful Jådº armlocks and strangles (Waterhouse, 66-7). Waterhouse's course grows out of his view of "knowledge as comprising mostly non-verbal cognition: information from the senses does not have to be reducible to, or reduced to, words in order to count as knowledge" (69). The experience of performing itself gives one a kind of knowledge not available to one who merely watches or listens to the performance. Thus in this unique course, Waterhouse deliberately tries to bridge the gap between theory and practice and to give students a glimpse of the possibilities of acquiring knowledge non-verbally (Waterhouse, 60)." Wotypka, Joanne. "Engaging Buddhism: Creative Tasks and Student Participation." From the Wheel to the Web: Teaching Buddhism in the Western Academy. Eds. Victor Sogen Hori, Richard P. Hayes, and James Mark Shields. London: Curzon, 2000. 95-106. "Joanne Wotypka was faced with a class of more than 80 students who had signed up for her course, Introduction to Buddhism, because, as she says, the other Arts option course, Witchcraft and the Occult was already full. Her paper, "Engaging Buddhism: Creative Tasks and Student Participation," describes with a great deal of humor the Creative Tasks which she devised to motivate 80 lethargic students whose knowledge of Buddhism consisted of having seen the movie Kundun or Seven Years in Tibet. Creative Task no. 2 was to try to explain the concept of emptiness to another person and then to report on the attempt. Wotypka discovered that the most common victims of the students were their mothers and usually at the breakfast table. The next most popular victims were significant others usually with some alcohol involved. Also represented were other passengers on public transportation, cab drivers and in one case, door-to-door proselytizers from the Jehovah's Witnesses. Though most students readily admitted they had failed to convey emptiness to the other, they agreed the attempt to do so made them understand it much better. One mother however questioned the value of her daughter's post-secondary education. Creative Task no. 3 was to attempt to live by the Five Precepts for two full days. This meant that first the students had to define just what living by the Five Precepts meant. Is coffee an intoxicant? What is sexual misconduct? In their accounts of their attempts, students reported shock at how unBuddhist their lives were and how difficult it was to never cause harm and never to tell a lie."
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