An introduction to the great religious traditions of the Orient, including Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Shintoism, and some modern religious movements originating in the East. Emphasis will be on these religions as living cultural, political, and philosophical institutions and systems helping to shape our world. Each religion will be studied with regard to such issues as the human attempt to understand the cosmos and shape social life, together with the need for mutual understanding and toleration.
Instruction in this course will include the following six areas:
- An introduction to the development of Indian religions - including early Indian religion; the caste system; the Vedas, Upanishads, and Gita; the origin and growth of Jainism, Buddhism, and classical Hinduism; the organization and development of the Buddhist sangha; the spread of Buddhism, and its eventual disappearance from India; the impact of Islam on India; the development of Sikhism in India (from Guru Nanak through to the 10th guru and beyond).
- Rituals, ways of life and institutional forms of Hinduism and Sikhism from a contemporary standpoint - including Hindu inclusivism and Sikh particularism; Hindu universalism and particularism; and Sikhism in the West.
- An introduction to Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism -- including the Arhat and the Bodhisattva as ideal figures; Theravada teachings, rituals, and social forms: the Sri Lanka experience; Mahayana teachings, rituals, and social forms: Pure Land Buddhism, Tibetan Buddhism, and Zen Buddhism as examples; Buddhism in the People’s Republic of China, and Taiwan; the arrival of Buddhism in America.
- An introduction to Taoism and Confucianism - including the Taoist ideal sage, and concept of harmony with nature; Confucius, and Confucian humanism; the development of popular Taoism; the evolution and influences of Confucianism; Taoism and modern ecological and social notions; Confucianism and western secular humanism; the influence of Taoist ideas on western thought.
- An introduction to religion in Japan, especially Shintoism, Buddhism, and new Japanese religious movements - including the way of the gods in myth and ritual; Shinto and the Imperial lineage; Nichiren and prophetic Buddhism; non-exclusivism in modern Japanese religious life; Buddhism and the samurai ethic; and new Japanese religious movements (Nichiren Shoshu Soka Gakkai in the West, and the development of paths such as Seicho No le, and Tenri kyo).
- Contemporary Issues and Asian Religions -- including ecology and eastern pantheism; the impact of western approaches to religion on the self-definition of oriental religions; political process and new religious movements; Vivekenanda and the world parliament of religions; Christian-Hindu dialogue, and global interfaith dialogue; the importance of non-theistic Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism for the western understanding of religious consciousness; scientific and oriental religions.
Methods of Instruction
A combination of lecture and discussion (possibly including student presentations). Some class sessions may involve formal lectures for the entire time (allowing time for questions), in which case a later class session will allow discussion of the lecture and reading material. Other class sessions may involve a combination of informal lecture and structured discussion.
Means of Assessment
Evaluation will be based on course objectives and will be carried out in accordance with Douglas College policy. The instructor will provide a written course outline with specific evaluation criteria at the beginning of the semester.
Any possible combination of the following which equals 100%:
(No one evaluation component within each category may exceed 40%)
|Tests, quizzes, short written assignments
|| 0% - 50%
|| three 20% essays 60%
|Written class presentations, essays, essay exams
|| 30% - 60%
||Final exam 25%
|Instructors general evaluation
(may include attendance, class participation,
group work, homework, etc.)
| 0% - 20%
The successful student should be able to:
- Explain the diversity of eastern religions, both as to doctrines concerning the nature of the cosmos, and the human position in it
- Demonstrate an appreciation of the diversity of ways of life and social organization associated with the eastern religions;
- Explain the connection between the eastern religions and current global ecological, philosophical, and social concerns;
- To compare and contrast the fundamental doctrines associated with the oriental religions covered in this course, especially concerning the origins of the cosmos, the existence of God, the nature of Ultimate Reality, and the destiny of the individual person upon the death of the body;
- To compare and contrast the ways of life prescribed by these religions, including the main ritual and calendrical systems associated with them;
- To compare and contrast the social political institutions associated with these religions; and
- To critically and reflectively discuss the relevance of some of the teachings on the cosmos and on moral and social life, especially as they pertain to the current ecological, social, philosophical, and political concerns we have today as members of a global community.
Course Guidelines for previous years are viewable by selecting the version desired. If you took this course and do not see a listing for the starting semester/year of the course, consider the previous version as the applicable version.
Below shows how this course and its credits transfer within the BC transfer system.
A course is considered university-transferable (UT) if it transfers to at least one of the five research universities in British Columbia: University of British Columbia; University of British Columbia-Okanagan; Simon Fraser University; University of Victoria; and the University of Northern British Columbia.
For more information on transfer visit the BC Transfer Guide and BCCAT websites.
If your course prerequisites indicate that you need an assessment, please see our Assessment page for more information.