LIBERAL STUDIES 131: EASTERN AND COMPARATIVE RELIGIONS
North Island College Winter 2022
Meeting Time: W 6:00 - 8:50 pm
Dates: January 10 - April 10
Instructor: Dan Hinman-Smith
Office Hours: Tues. 11:30 am - 1:00 pm (Village G6); W 10:00 - 11:00 am (BlueJeans) [or by appointment]
Office Phone: 334-5000, Extension 4024
Web- Site for Course:https://www.misterdann.com/contentsreligioneastern.htm
North Island College is honoured to acknowledge the traditional territories of the combined 35 First Nations of the Nuu-chah-nulth, Kwakwaka'wakw and Coast Salish traditions, on whose traditional and unceded territories the college's campuses are situated. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada's final report calls for 94 actions toward restoring a balanced relationship between indigenous peoples and settler communities in this country.
This course combines an introduction to the religions of Asia with comparative analysis of some key organizing themes for the study of all world religions. It examines the origins and historical development, the sacred texts, the central tenets, the institutions, and the rituals of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, Confucianism, Taoism and Shinto. It also explores selected core concepts such as sacred space, sacred time, sacred rituals and sacred symbols in a comparative context that uses not only these seven eastern religions but also the Abrahamic tradition and other world religions as reference points. Instruction will combine intensive reading, documentaries, on-line student discussion forums, and in-class presentations and discussion.
**It is important that you acquire these books. They are available for purchase at the NIC Bookstore. Several copies of Nine Lives are available on Reserve from the Comox Valley Campus branch of the North Island College Library, while three copies of Wallis's translation of the Dhammapada are also at the library. I have also provided links to e-text editions below.
Gavin Flood and Charles Martin, trans., Bhagavad-Gita: A New Translation (New York: W.W. Norton, 2012).
William Dalrymple, Nine Lives: In Search Of The Sacred In Modern India (London: Bloomsbury, 2009).
Glenn Wallis, trans., Dhammapada: Verses On The Way (New York: Modern Library, 2007).
Optional Textbook: I have decided not to have a required textbook in LIB 131. We will be using basic introductory materials from the Learn Religions web-site as one substitute. Those who would like a basic textbook introduction to Eastern Religions as an extra reference may find the following volume helpful, though there is no expectation that you acquire this book:
Willard Oxtoby, ed., World Religions: Eastern Traditions (New York: Oxford).
The Teaching Company has a 30-hour Great Courses lecture series, "The Great World Religions," that is available from the North Island College library. It features superb six-hour introductions to five major faiths, includingHinduism and Buddhism. These Audio DVDs can be borrowed from or listened to in the library.
My Assumptions About This Course
That you are interested in world religion and eager to learn as much about it as possible in this course.
That it will be impossible to learn all that you would like to learn given the massive amount of relevant material and the time constraints involved.
That my job as instructor is to strike an appropriate balance between providing a common core curriculum and setting up structures that also allow you to study materials of personal interest.
That this course should help to set you up for future formal or informal study of world religion rather than being a survey that teaches you "all that you need to know."
That the success of this course will depend not just upon my efforts but upon your willingness to participate in the creation of a dynamic learning community through your own study and willingness to engage with your classmates.
Tentative Class Schedule
Wednesday, January 12
a) Course Introduction
b) Video: "Faith Connections," 2013. [117 mins]
Wednesday, January 19
a) Discussion: Swastika As A Sacred Symbol And Sacred Varanasi
b) Discussion: The Kumbh Mela
c) Lecture: Sacred Varanasi
Browse extensively in Swastika As Sacred Symbol Discussion Topic.
Browse extensively in Sacred Varanasi Discussion Topic.
Browse extensively in Kumbh Mela Discussion Topic.
Listening And Viewing
"Reclaiming The Swastika," Documentary Archive, BBC World Service, October 24, 2014. [28 mins]
Listen to "Varanasi: A Living History," Encounter, ABC, November 2, 2013. Give the program a couple of minutes to download. The Varanasi documentary is also available on Soundcloud here. [54 mins]
"Ganga Ma -- Voices Of The River, Episode 1," Heart And Soul, BBC World Service, April 11, 2010. [26 mins]
"Ganga Ma -- Voices Of The River, Episode 2," Heart And Soul, BBC World Service, April 18, 2010. [27 mins]
Letter Of Introduction
Reflections Upon Entering The Course: Write a short letter of introduction to me at the beginning of the semester. This should be at least 100 words in length and is designed to give me a beginning idea of who you are and how I might be serve you as a teacher, and to provide me with an opening snapshot of the class as a whole. It is also meant to encourage you to think about your own relationship with the study of religion. You need not use the following questions as cue, but they may be helpful. Who are you? Where are you from? How might you begin to describe your community and what life is like there if you've come to NIC from far away? What do you miss and what do you think would most surprise me if I were to visit your hometown? What are your interests? Why are you taking this course? How would you begin to make sense of your own thoughts about religion and religious studies? Do you have any questions, concerns, or suggestions as we start the course? Although this is not a graded assignment, I would appreciate it if you took several minutes writing a thoughtful introduction. If you are enrolled in more than one class with me this semester, a single letter of introduction will suffice, but do include some thoughts about religion and religious studies. If you have already taken a class with me, please update what you sent me before and send me a new letter of introduction.
Wednesday, January 26
a) Course Introduction
b) Video: "The Bhagavad Gita," Invitation To World Literature. [30 mins.]
c) Discussion: Bhagavad-Gita
d) Lecture: "Truth Is One; Sages Call It By Different Names": The Essence Of Hinduism (I)
e) Possible Mini-Lecture: The Bhagavad Gita -- A Biography
Gavin Flood and Charles Martin, eds. and trans., Bhagavad Gita: A New Translation. New York: W. W. Norton, 2012.
Listening And Viewing
"Hinduism Through Its Scriptures," Harvard X, April 19, 2017. [5 mins]
"World Religions: Hinduism," Faith Reason, January 16, 2011 [14 mins]: A thoughtful audio overview of Hinduism from Boston University professor Stephen Prothero.
Use the Hinduism On-Line Text to complete theHinduism Study Guide:
I have collected some resources from the Learn Religions web-site as a partial substitute for a course text. I am also making some corresponding worksheets for Buddhism and Sikhism. The relevant web resources and the worksheets can be accessed from the On-Line Text section of the web-site. You will have a couple of weeks on your own time to complete each worksheet and then should submit these through Brightspace in a timely manner. Please don't just initially Google the answers -- you will not learn as much from that as from a very careful browsing of the Learn Religions web-site. Note that the Study Guides include number references to the appropriate Learn Religions page for each of the questions. I will look at the worksheet to see whether you approached it with care but, rather than grading every individual answer, will award you the full 3% grade for each completed worksheet. The worksheet is just meant as both a guide for you and as an accountability mechanism.
"The Bhagavad Gita," Heart And Soul, BBC World Service, July 18, 2011.
"The Upanishads," In Our Time, BBC Radio 4, November 8, 2012.
Wednesday, February 2
a) Discussion: Of Elephant Gods, Monkey Kings, And Sacred Cows
b) Discussion: Hinduism In The News
c) Lecture: "Truth Is One; Sages Call It By Different Names": The Essence Of Hinduism (II)
Browse extensively in Of Elephant Gods, Monkey Kings And Sacred Cows Discussion Topic.
Browse extensively in Hinduism In The News.
Kim Knott, Hinduism: A Very Short Introduction. New York: Oxford, 2016. This slender book offers a comprehensive introduction to Hinduism. The link to the left opens up the NIC Library's e-text edition. The librarian recommends using the PDF link at the permalink rather than downloading the digital file. There is no expectation that you access this volume but I encourage you to do so if you have extra time.
"Hinduism: My Life, My Religion," BBC Learning Zone, September 16, 2015. [29 mins]
Browse extensively in Sacred Festivals In The News -- Hinduism.
Listen to at least one audio file and/or view at least one video file at Hinduism: Audio Links and Hinduism: Video Links
***Sunday, February 6: Hinduism Study Guide Due (3%)
Wednesday, February 9
a) Discussion: Nine Lives
b) Video: "Asian Temples: Humans, Nature And Gods," Sacred Spaces, 2017. [52 mins]
William Dalrymple, Nine Lives: In Search Of The Sacred In Modern India. London: Bloomsbury, 2009.
Wednesday, February 16
a) Video: "The Buddha: The Story Of Siddhartha," PBS, 2010. [115 mins]
***Sunday, February 20: First Half Journal Due (25%)
***Family Day And Reading Break, February 21-27
Wednesday, March 2
a) Course Check-In: Introduce Other Asian Religions Project and Comparative Religions Grid Assignment
b) Lecture: The Nature Of Suffering Must Be Understood -- The Essence Of Buddhism (I)
c) Video: "Seven Wonders Of The Buddhist World," PBS, 2011. [74 mins]
Listening And Viewing
"Buddhism In Brief," Harvard X, April 19, 2017. [6 mins]
"World Religions: Buddhism," Faith Reason, January 16, 2011 [13 mins]: A thoughtful audio introduction to Buddhism from Boston University professor Stephen Prothero.
Use theBuddhism On-Line Text to complete the Buddhism Study Guide.
Wednesday, March 9
a) Discussion: Dhammapada -- Verses On The Way
b) Other Asian Religions Workshop
c) Lecture: The Nature Of Suffering Must Be Understood -- The Essence Of Buddhism (II)
Glenn Wallis, ed. and trans., Dhammapada: Verses On The Way. New York: Modern Library, 2007.
Wednesday, March 16
a) Discussion: Buddhism In The News and Burma And Buddhism
b) Other Asian Religions Workshop
c) Possible Video: "Shikoku," Sacred Journeys, PBS, 2014. [55 mins]
Browse in Buddhism In The News
Browse in Burma And Buddhism Discussion Topic.
Browse in Tibetan Buddhism In The News, Dalai Lama In The News
"Theravada And Mahayana Buddhism," World History, Khan Academy, March 16, 2017. [8 mins]
"Zen," In Our Time, BBC Radio 4, December 4, 2014. [45 mins]
Mark Hay, "Not Your Tibetan Buddhism," Aeon (April 19, 2018).
Browse in Buddha In The News; Buddhism Audio Links; Buddhism Video Links
***Sunday, March 20: Buddhism Study Guide Due (3%)
Wednesday, March 23
a) Discussion: Sikhism In The News
b) Lecture: Way Of The Disciples -- The Essence Of Sikhism
Browse extensively in Sikhism In The News
Listening And Viewing
"My Turban And Me," BBC, July 13, 2018. [32 mins]
"Walking The Kartarpur Corridor For Guru Nanak," Heart And Soul, BBC World Service, December 6, 2019. [27 min]
Eleanor Nesbitt, Sikhism: A Very Short Introduction. New York: Oxford, 2016. This small volume offers a comprehensive introduction to Sikhism. The link to the left opens up the NIC Library's e-text edition. The librarian recommends using the PDF link at the permalink rather than downloading the digital file. Read at least a chapter or two of this book.
"What Is Sikhism?," Cogito, January 11, 2020. [20 mins]
"The Sikhs: Between India And Pakistan," DW Documentary, January 21, 2020. [27 mins]
"Birth Of The Khalsa: The Vaisakhi Story," Sikh Stories, Sikhnet, May 30, 2019. [20 mins]
Use the Sikhism On-Line Text to complete the Sikhism Study Guide.
Wednesday, March 30
a) Group Mini-Presentations:
Confucianism: The Philosophy Of Master Kung
Taoism: The Way And Its Power
Sikhism From The Inside
b) Lecture: Shinto -- The Way Of The Kami
***Sunday, April 3: Sikhism Study Guide Due (3%)
Wednesday, April 6
a) Lecture: The Diamond Vehicle -- Tibetan Buddhism
b) Discussion: Other Asian Religions In The News
Browse extensively in Zoroastrianism In The News
Browse extensively in Jainism In The News
Browse extensively in Shinto In The News
Browse extensively in Confucianism In The News
Browse extensively in Taoism In The News
Listening And Viewing
"India's Jains," Religion And Ethics Newsweekly, PBS, August 30, 2013. [8 mins]
"World Religions: Confucianism," Faith Reason, January 17, 2011 [14 mins]: A thoughtful audio introduction to Confucianism from Boston University professor Stephen Prothero.
"World Religions: Taoism (Daoism)," Faith Reason, January 17, 2011 [14 mins]: A thoughtful audio introduction to Taoism from Boston University professor Stephen Prothero.
"Confucius," Episode 3, Genius Of The Ancient World, BBC, 2015. [59 mins]
"What Is Jainism?," Cogito, August 31, 2019. [19 mins]
"Shinto," In Our Time, BBC Radio 4, September 22, 2011. [45 min]
"Taoism 101," Religions In Global History, Hip Hughes, September 5, 2016. [8 mins]
"Daoism," In Our Time, BBC Radio 4, December 16, 2010. [45 mins]
"Taoism Te Ching -- Read By Wayne Dyer," May 23, 2020. [65 mins]
Confucianism Audio Links; Jainism Audio Links; Shinto Audio Links; Taoism Audio Links; Zoroastrianism Audio Links
***Wednesday, April 13: Second Half Journal Due (25%)
|Reflections On Entering The Course||1%|
First Half Journal
Other Asian Religions Group Mini-Presentation
|Second Half Journal||25%|
On-Line Text Worksheets
a) Reflections On Entering The Course (1%)
Write a short letter of introduction to me at the beginning of the semester. This should be at least 100 words in length and is designed to give me a beginning idea of who you are and how I might be serve you as a teacher, and to provide me with an opening snapshot of the class as a whole. It is also meant to encourage you to think about your own relationship with the study of religion. You need not use the following questions as cue, but they may be helpful. Who are you? Where are you from? How might you begin to describe your community and what life is like there if you've come to NIC from far away? What do you miss and what do you think would most surprise me if I were to visit your hometown? What are your interests? Why are you taking this course? How would you begin to make sense of your own thoughts about religion and religious studies? Do you have any questions, concerns, or suggestions as we start the course? Although this is not a graded assignment, I would appreciate it if you took several minutes writing a thoughtful introduction. If you are enrolled in more than one class with me this semester, a single letter of introduction will suffice, but do include some thoughts about religion and religious studies. If you have already taken a class with me, please update what you sent me before and send me a new letter of introduction. Submit your Reflections On Entering The Course through Brightspace.
b) Journal (30% + 25%) =55%
The student Journal will be the most substantial assignment in this course. It will represent your on-going engagement with the core class curriculum. The focus of the Journal should be on analysis, interpretation, and commentary. It should consist of a series of short writings of varying lengths about the course material. I refer to these short writings as entries. The purpose of the journal is to provide you with the opportunity for frequent thoughtful and analytical commentary upon course-related material.
I have provided you with two different options for the Journal: (1) The Regular Journal; or (2) The Note-Taking/Journal Combo. These are described in detail on the Assignments Page of my web-site. You should familiarize yourself with these two models and make a clear choice between the options at the beginning of the course.
This assignment is designed to be coordinated with our in-class Discussions.
It is expected that you work regularly on the Journal throughout the semester, writing in it on a weekly basis. You will only need to hand in the Journal to me twice, however.
You will submit your First Half Journal to me through Brightspace at the end of the sixth week of the semester on Sunday, February 20. I want to check to ensure that you are off to a good start and that we share a mutual understanding as to the nature of the assignment. This submission will be graded and is worth 25% of your course grade.
The Second Half Journal will then be due at the end of the course. This submission will be worth 20% of your course grade.
c) Other Asian Religions Group Mini-Presentation (10%)
You will work with a few of your classmates and engage in introductory study of one particular Eastern Religion: Jainism, Shinto, Confucianism, and Taoism. You will be responsible for writing up a summary and analysis of your research as a Journal Entry, but also will participate in an informal small-group presentation to your classmates. The evaluation for this assignment will be based upon the combination of your own self-evaluation and the evaluation by your team members of your contributions to the group.
d) Comparative Religions Grid (20%)
This exercise will ask you to engage in an in-depth comparative analysis of a select few world religions.
e) On-Line Text Worksheets (9%)
There will be three fill-in-the-blanks worksheets that highlight the basics of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Sikhism respectively.
f) Class Participation (15%)
The Class Participation grade will be based on your contributions to both our in-class Discussions and the Brightspace Discussion Topics.
The expectation for our class sessions is that you will have spent a few hours before each meeting studying that week's materials and that you come regularly to our meetings ready to offer thoughtful commentary upon the topics under discussion. I take seriously your capacity to add to the learning of your fellow students and instructor, and expect you to strive to do that upon a consistent basis. One measure of solid class participation will be your ability to demonstrate that you have read the required course books and then struggled to think about their larger implications in time for our seminar discussions on each of those.
The Brightspace Discussions are meant to facilitate the sharing of ideas and to engage you with your classmates. Evaluation will be based not just upon the number of contributions but rather more on the level of their thoughtfulness, with added appreciation for genuine engagement with fellow students. Although I will leave up the Discussion Topics throughout the semester, my expectation is that you will do your best to stay current with the scheduled Discussions. It is fine to have considerable overlap between your Discussion Forum Contributions and your Journal entries. But it is expected that you will put considerable time and thought into each Discussion Forum Contribution and that each contribution will represent your original ideas.
Those students who are regularly engaged in our in-class seminars need not devote more than occasional attention to the Brightspace Discussions.
Although the time it takes individual students to complete course responsibilities varies individually, I have set up the course with the expectation that you will probably need to devote five hours a week to this course on a regular basis right from the start of the semester to gain full value from it. It is important that you not fall behind on your assignments. Please stay in close communication with me and let me know if you are experiencing challenges in keeping up with the curriculum.
The curriculum for this course is organized on a week-by-week basis, in which most assignments are cumulative and on-going. Discussion amongst students is also dependent upon classmates keeping current with their studies. Late assignments are also often an extra burden from an instructor standpoint. Due dates should be noted and met.
However, I appreciate that there may be occasions where a very few extra days to polish an assignment in the midst of competing deadlines can be helpful, and thus I deliberately assume a good-faith effort on the part of students to meet the due dates and provide a small cushion of flexibility without any academic penalty. That does not mean the due dates are unimportant or that extensions are automatically granted. You must discuss possible extensions with me directly and I reserve the right to refuse to accept any late assignment if you do not check in with me before the due date. As a general rule, no assignment will be accepted more than two weeks late and no end-of-the-semester assignment will be accepted more than one week late.
Discussion Forum contributions should ideally be made the week of the discussion itself and will be considered late if made more than two weeks after we have moved to a new topic. Your ability to maintain this schedule will have a major impact upon your Discussion Forum Contributions Grade.
Writing Support And Peer Tutoring
Writing Support is available to all students at no additional cost. Go to Writing Support for any or all of your assignments. Every visit is a step toward becoming a better writer. Use Writing Support as many times as you like, and at any point in your writing process. The writing support faculty can help you understand the assignment, develop your ideas, outlines, thesis, and revision -- and anything else in-between. Book your appointment through the library website, or visit the library desk to inquire about drop-ins. There's also WriteAway, an online tutoring platform that allows you to upload your papers and assignments for detailed written feedback. Both services may be found at https://libguides.nic.bc.ca/WritingSupport .
Peer Tutoring is available at no additional cost for a wide range of courses offered at NIC. Students are hired and trained to tutor in a wide variety of content areas, in addition to supporting other students with basic study skills. These students have been successful in the courses they have taken and can help support other students become successful in their own courses. To see the list of tutors currently available, request a tutor in a course, or apply to become a tutor, please visit the library website: https://libcal.nic.bc.ca/appointments/ .
Student Technical Services
Our Student Technical Service team is available to help you with any technical issues that you may be experiencing as a student. Please go to https://library.nic.bc.ca/studenttech for more information.
NIC's Learn Anywhere website is geared to provide a collection of information that will help you be successful learning digitally by covering area such as: What is digital learning? How to be a digital learner while using NIC-supported technologies during your studies? A list of key skills and knowledge all students should have for successful learning in today's world, knowing your rights and responsibilities and Technology Readiness Checklists. More details at: https://learnanywhere.opened.ca/
Community Supports (24/7)
There are several supports available to help any student in distress. If you are in distress, please reach out for support.
Vancouver Island Crisis Line: 24/7 1-888-494-3888 (Available to students located on Vancouver Island only)
Crisis Suicide helpline: 24/7 1-800-784-2433 (Available to students located in Canada only)
BC 211: Full list of community services available across BC. Dial 2-1-1 on BC cellphone (Available to students located in BC only).
Here2Talk: 24/7 counselling support for post-secondary students: 1-877-857-3397 (Available to students located in Canada and offshore).
A Note On Plagiarism
Everything that you hand in should be your original work unless otherwise indicated. Violations of this policy may result in being reported to the Academic Integrity Committee and in failing an assignment or the course in its entirety. Please talk to me if you have any uncertainty about what is permitted here. I want to help you to get as much out of this course as possible but, for this to happen, you need to put forth strong and honest effort.
Community Code of Academic, Personal and Professional Conduct (3-06)
Instructional Accommodation and Access Services for Students with Disabilities (3-17)
Student Appeals Policy (3-30)
Student Complaint Resolution Policy (3-31)
Evaluation of Student Performance Policy (3-33)
Sexual Violence and Misconduct Policy (3-34)
Course Outline Policy (3-35)
Academic Standing and Progression (3-37)
Grading System (4-14)
WELCOME TO THE COURSE