OL FOB 1: Foundations of Buddhism

This course begins in India just before the time of the Buddha and considers the religious and social life there, before moving on to the story of the Buddha himself and his early teachings. Next, the course explores the spread of the Buddhist tradition through India, the rise of Mahāyāna and Vajrayana, and the spread of the tradition to other parts of Asia. The later philosophical developments of the Madhyamaka and Yogācāra schools are examined, as are a number of the new ideas in Mahāyāna Buddhism and the practices that arose as part of Vajrayana Buddhism. The course concludes by exploring modern Buddhism in South East Asia, Sri Lanka, Tibet, China, Japan, and the West.

The course is designed for anyone interested in understanding the historical, social, and political significances surrounding the development of Buddhism and assumes no prior knowledge of Buddhist philosophy, history, or practice. This course takes one semester to complete. The text book for the course is Rupert Gethin's Foundation of Buddhism (Oxford University Press, 1998). Students should purchase this book for use with the online course.

As this is a beginner-level course, students can expect between five to eight hours of study per week. Course material is presented as video and visual lectures given by RYI/CBS Senior Lecturers Joanne Larson and Hilary Herdman in English and includes PDF handouts and web-based resources.

The self-study format, where students work at their own pace, is available year-round.

Students will navigate the course material via Moodle, an open source e-learning environment. Internet access is required for studying this course. Students will have access to this course in Moodle for one year from the date of their registration.

Students can register for this self-study course anytime and begin studying immediately.

Resources for this course format include video and/or audio lectures from Western instructors and engaging visual lectures to expand upon the material. Students will also explore course readings via Rupert Gethin's Foundations of Buddhism and other supporting material.

Once registration is complete, students will have access to this course for one year.

Additional Materials:

  • Year-round enrollment
  • Video and audio available in English