Teaching Buddhism: New Insights on Understanding and Presenting the Traditions
Lewis, Todd, and Gary DeAngelis, eds.
Buddhist studies is a rapidly changing field of research, constantly transforming and adapting to new scholarship. This creates a problem for instructors, both in a university setting and in monastic schools, as they try to develop a curriculum based on a body of scholarship that continually shifts in focus and expands to new areas.
Teaching Buddhism establishes a dialogue between the community of instructors of Buddhism and leading scholars in the field who are updating, revising, and correcting earlier understandings of Buddhist traditions. Each chapter presents new ideas within a particular theme of Buddhist studies and explores how courses can be enhanced with these insights. Contributors in the first section focus on the typical approaches, figures, and traditions in undergraduate courses, such as the role of philosophy in Buddhism, Nagarjuna, Yogacara Buddhism, tantric traditions, and Zen Buddhism. They describe the impact of recent developments—like new studies in the cognitive sciences—on scholarship in those areas. Part Two examines how political engagement and ritual practice have shaped the tradition throughout its history. Focus then shifts to the issues facing instructors of Buddhism-dilemmas for the scholar-practitioner in the academic and monastic classroom, the tradition's possible roles in teaching feminism and diversity, and how to present the tradition in the context of a world religions course. In the final section, contributors offer stories of their own experiences teaching, paying particular attention to the ways in which American culture has impacted them. They discuss the development of courses on American Buddhism; using course material on the family and children; the history and trajectory of a Buddhist-Christian dialog; and Buddhist bioethics, environmentalism, economic development, and social justice. In synthesizing this vast and varied body of research, the contributors in this volume have provided an invaluable service to the field
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