Classes Offered by Mark Toole - High Point University

August 1, 2009

August 1, 2009

Classes Currently Offered: (Fall '10)

Sacred Experiences in World Religions (Click here for full syllabus)
Mondays 9:15 - 10:20 a.m.
Wednesdays 9:15 - 10:20 am
Fridays 9:15 - 10:20 a.m.

Asian Thought & Global Concerns (Click here for full syllabus)
Tuesdays & Thursdays
9:40 a.m. - 11:10 a.m. & 1:20 - 3:00 p.m.

Mondays 10:30 -11:30 a.m.
Wednesdays 10:30 - 11:30 a.m.
Fridays 10:30 - 11:30 a.m.

Past Classes and Upcoming Offerings:

Introduction to Hinduism
This introductory course will provide a basic, yet systematic overview of the myriad of Hindu religious traditions. We will progress historically from the Indus Valley civilization, to the Vedic Period, through the rise of the epic traditions and yoga philosophies, right up to present day Hindu nationalist movements. Topics that will be covered include creation myths, gods and goddesses, cycles of rebirth and paths of liberation, Indian literature and philosophy, yogas anddevotionalism, and temples and pilgrimage sites. Throughout the course we will cover both the internal forces and influences that led to the development of Hindu religious traditions, as well as the political, social, and cultural pressures that contributed to their growth. We will work with both primary materials (Sanskrit texts translated into English) and secondary scholarship to further our understanding of the rich and diverse configurations of belief and practice commonly referred to as Hinduism.

Introduction to Buddhism
This introductory course will provide a basic, yet systematic overview of the Buddhist religious tradition. Topics that will be covered include the life of the Buddha, the origins of Buddhism in India, the development of major doctrines and institutions, monastic and lay life, the tradition’s growth and gradual spread throughout Asia, as well as, contemporary expressions of Buddhism. Special attention will be paid to the presence of Buddhism in China, Japan, and Tibet. Throughout the course we will cover both the internal forces and influences that led to the development of this religious tradition, as well as the political, social, and cultural pressures that contributed to the tradition’s growth. We will work with both primary materials (Pali, Sanskrit, Chinese and Japanese texts translated into English) and secondary scholarship to further our understanding of the rich and diverse configurations of Buddhist belief and practice.

Introduction to Islam
This introductory course will provide a basic, yet systematic overview of the intellectual and spiritual experience of Islam. Beginning with a look at pre-Islamic Arabia, we will then examine the life of the prophet Muhammad, the development of the Qur’an and the hadiths, the split between Sunni and Shia Islam, and the mystical Sufi Way. We will then examine more contemporary issues such as the place of Islam in America, the role of women, and the rise of Islamic Fundamentalism. Throughout the course we will cover both the internal forces and influences that led to the development of Islam, as well as the political, social, and cultural pressures that contributed to its growth. We will work with both primary materials (Arabic and Persian texts translated into English) and secondary scholarship to further our understanding of the rich and diverse configurations of Islamic belief and practice.

Religions of East Asia
This introductory course will provide a basic, yet systematic overview of the religious traditions of China and Japan. In particular we will examine the religious practices and beliefs associated with Confucianism, Daoism, Buddhism, and Shinto in these two countries. Throughout the course we examine the relationship between religion and the natural order, religion and the individual, and religion and society. Through this three-fold schema we will come to better understand topics such as divination, geomancy, filial piety, ancestor veneration, cosmology, inner alchemy and meditation. We will work almost exclusively with secondary scholarship to further our understanding of the rich and diverse configurations of East Asian religious belief and practice.

Religions of South Asia
This survey course will provide a basic, yet systematic overview of the religious traditions of India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh. In particular we will examine the religious practices and beliefs associated with Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, and Sikhism in these four countries. By focusing on historical and contemporary interpretations of devotionalism,textuality, rites of passage, art and architecture, and ritual activity we will come to better understand topics such as fasting, pilgrimage, cosmology, puja, colonialism, yoga and meditation. We will work with both primary and secondary scholarship to further our understanding of the rich and diverse configurations of South Asian religious belief and practice.

Religions of Japan
This course will provide a systematic overview of many of the religions of Japan. Progressing historically from the stories of Japan’s “mythical” founding, through its’ feudal and medieval periods, right up to the present day, we will explore the teachings, practices and institutions of Shintō, numerous forms of Buddhism, syncretistic religious expressions, Christianity and “New Religions.” Throughout the course we will cover both the internal forces and influences that led to the development of each religious tradition, as well as the political, social, and cultural pressures which contributed to each tradition’s growth. We will work with both primary materials (Japanese texts translated into English) and secondary scholarship to further our understanding of the rich and diverse configurations of religious practice found in Japan.

Buddhist Traditions: Zen & Pure Land
This course will provide a systematic overview of the history, practices, and teachings of two of the largest and most influential forms of Mahāyāna Buddhism in the world, Zen and Pure Land. We will begin with a brief exploration of the origins of Buddhism before surveying the historical development of Zen and Pure Land sects in China, the Korean peninsula, Japan, and the United States. In particular we will explore: the role of Zen masters, the use of kōans, seated mediation, andnembutsu recitation, as well as the dynamics of life in a monastery.

Contemporary Buddhist Developments
This seminar/topics course will provide a systematic overview of one of the fastest growing religions in America…Buddhism. Topics that will be covered include an historical exploration of the rise of Buddhism in Asia, its introduction to the United States, and a thorough examination of several of the major issues that are shaping the American Sangha. Special attention will be paid to four of the largest American Buddhist traditions – Jōdo Shinshū (BCA), Zen, Soka Gakkai(SGI-USA), and Tibetan. Throughout the course we will cover both the internal forces and influences which led to the development of each tradition, as well as the political, social, and cultural pressures which further shape each tradition’s growth. We will principally work with contemporary western secondary scholarship to further our understanding of the diverse and active configurations of Buddhist belief and practice in the United States.

Comparative Religious Perspectives: Pilgrimage & Sacred Space
This course examines selected topics that can be studied comparatively across religions. The topic will be chosen at the instructor’s discretion from among such topics as pilgrimage and sacred space, rituals and rites of passage, epic tales and hagiography, and spiritual biographies.

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