This short self-study course explores both the culture of the Indian subcontinent before and during the time of Buddha Śākyamuni around 500 BCE. Students will first explore the cultural, political and socio-economic climate of the first known occupants of the subcontinent in order to set a broad context of place. Students, then, focus upon the transition between agriculturalist/pastoralist lifestyles to urbanization in order to understand the societal structure into which Buddha Śākyamuni was born. Finally, students will explore the literal, symbolic, typological, and allegorical nature of Buddha Śākyamuni 's life story seeking the aim of telling sacred stories in our human experience.
This online course assumes no prior knowledge of Buddhist philosophy, history, or practice. Taught by Professors Joanne Larson and Hilary Herdman, this short course is part of the larger semester-long course Foundations of Buddhism. Foundations of Buddhism is built to span an entire semester of coursework at RYI, and this short course comprises the first week of the semester-long course.
Students can study at their leisure in this short self-study format. This course is also available in the interactive format for group study. Course content will be presented as video lectures and visual lectures created from MS PowerPoint©. Students will also explore course readings via Rupert Gethin's Foundations of Buddhism and other supporting material.
Students will navigate the material via Moodle, an open source e-learning environment. Internet access is required for studying this course. Students will have access to this short course for four months from their date of registration.