Teaching Theravada to College Students

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Teaching Theravada to College Students

Postby Raga Mala » Sat Oct 03, 2009 1:30 am

Heya folks,

I took an Eastern religions class two years ago and, as a practicing Theravadin Buddhist I became the de facto Theravada authority in the classroom--I was even able to educate my professor on a point or two. I do not consider myself a great scholar, but over many years of reading and study I do have a pretty solid foundation in the Theravada basics.

That professor recently e-mailed me that she will be out of town for a week this fall and she would like me to come in and teach this year's students a unit on the Theravada. I was wondering if folks here had any input on what they think should be included in a scholastic overview of the Theravada tradition.

I already have significant ideas of what I want to talk about and how I want to structure it, but any input from other Theravadins out there would be much appreciated.

It's about two class periods or about three hours' worth of material/discussion/activity I need to prepare.
[this is a question I already posted at e-sangha. wondering if the folks here have new/different opinions]
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Re: Teaching Theravada to College Students

Postby Ben » Sat Oct 03, 2009 1:41 am

Hi RM
I'm also going to be giving a presentation to high-school students on the Theravada perspective on death & dying in a couple of weeks.
Perhaps if you give us a precis of what you are going to present and that will allow members to fill in the blanks.
metta

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Re: Teaching Theravada to College Students

Postby Raga Mala » Sat Oct 03, 2009 1:52 am

Well, I have no outline, as such, but here is a brainstorm of concepts that I wish to Introduce. She will have already taught basic Buddhism (Life of Siddhattha, 4NT, etc etc), so my job is Theravada-specific:

--Basic history, 1st Council, 2nd Council, arising of Mahaynism, Mahayana "apocrypha" etc

--Meaning of "Theravada" - way of the elders

--Discuss the concept & organization of the Pali Canon.

--"Essential Tenets of Theravadin Buddhism:
---Three Refuges (meaning of refuge, etc)
---Five precepts
---Three marks of existence (though this is not theravada-exclusive, I want to make sure students don't leave teh class without it)
---The three principal Suttas (first discourse, fire sermon, anatta discourse), have them read (at least excerpts) and discuss

Maybe introduce some thought-provoking optional readings by Ven Thanissaro, Ven Bodhi, or Ven Nanamoli...just to get them thinking.
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Re: Teaching Theravada to College Students

Postby Cittasanto » Sat Oct 03, 2009 3:59 am

Raga Mala wrote:Well, I have no outline, as such, but here is a brainstorm of concepts that I wish to Introduce. She will have already taught basic Buddhism (Life of Siddhattha, 4NT, etc etc), so my job is Theravada-specific:

--Basic history, 1st Council, 2nd Council, arising of Mahaynism, Mahayana "apocrypha" etc

--Meaning of "Theravada" - way of the elders

--Discuss the concept & organization of the Pali Canon.

--"Essential Tenets of Theravadin Buddhism:
---Three Refuges (meaning of refuge, etc)
---Five precepts
---Three marks of existence (though this is not theravada-exclusive, I want to make sure students don't leave teh class without it)
---The three principal Suttas (first discourse, fire sermon, anatta discourse), have them read (at least excerpts) and discuss

Maybe introduce some thought-provoking optional readings by Ven Thanissaro, Ven Bodhi, or Ven Nanamoli...just to get them thinking.

Looks like you pretty much have it sorted out!
and that is my last post for a while!!
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
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Re: Teaching Theravada to College Students

Postby Ben » Sat Oct 03, 2009 4:16 am

Hi RM
It looks good. When you get time, you might want to start thinking about how you want to structure your discussion.
In a similar situation, I would probably use the concept of the three jewels as the over-arching structure.

Under the heading of 'Buddha', you could include:

- historical social and spiritual context which Siddhartha was borne into
- recount of the bodhisatta's noble quest as per the ariyapariyesana sutta
- revision of the Buddha's life (ministry) from the Bodhi Tree to Parinibbana

Under the heading of 'Dhamma':
- Four Noble Truths (introduce here Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta: Setting the Wheel of Dhamma in Motion: SN 56.11)
--Fourth Truth:
---Noble Eightfold Path. What you could do here is divide N8FP in three divisions:
Sabba papassa akaraṇaṃ
Abstain from all sinful actions-that is, all unwholesome actions, physical or vocal, which hurt other beings and disturb their peace and harmony.

The second part of the Path is samadhi-one-pointed concentration of wholesome mind, summed up as:
Kusalassa upasampada
Perform wholesome actions with concentrated, wholesome mind.

The third part is pañña-wisdom or insight, summed up as:
Sacittapariyodapanaṃ
Purify the totality of mind by developing insight.

These three trainings are the teaching of all the Buddhas of the past and will be the teaching of all the Buddhas of the future. That is why it is said,
Etaṃ Buddhana sasanaṃ.
This is the teaching of all the Buddhas.


Or:
Sila:
- Right speech
- Right action
- Right livelihood
Samadhi:
- Right effort
- Right mindfulness
- Right concentration

Panna:
- Right view
- Right intention


Organisation of the Tipitaka
Development of theAbhidhamma

Sangha
- development of the sangha, including the four-fold assembly during the Buddha's lifetime
- vinaya
- role of ordained sangha in maintaining the teachings following the death of the Buddha. Include here the Councils
- Commentarial tradition
-'modern' revivalism

Kind regards

Ben
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Re: Teaching Theravada to College Students

Postby BlackBird » Sat Oct 03, 2009 4:24 am

A question for you friend. How did you determine the 3 principal suttas?

:anjali:
"For a disciple who has conviction in the Teacher's message & lives to penetrate it, what accords with the Dhamma is this:
'The Blessed One is the Teacher, I am a disciple. He is the one who knows, not I." - MN. 70 Kitagiri Sutta
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Re: Teaching Theravada to College Students

Postby Raga Mala » Sat Oct 03, 2009 6:12 am

Hi Ben,
As I tried to make clear, it's not my place to give a teaching encompassing those parts that might fall under the heading of "general Buddhism," because the Professor will already have covered such matters and won't want me to spend class time re-tracing them. This includes the life story of the bodhisatta and discussion of the 4NT. Instead, I'd like to focus on the things that make Theravada unique--including (as in the case of the "Three Marks") concepts that may have traction in wider Buddhism but are not likely to have been discussed and/or receive special emphasis in the Theravada. It's not meant to be a sermon on the Dhamma, nor a General Buddhism overview, but a general overview of Theravada, and laying down distinctions that will separate and distinguish it from the later discussion on Mahayana.

Here's a good, more specific question I would pose to the group: what are some good seminar questions/discussion questions to spark conversation among the students? Questions I would pose to them and invite them to discuss.


BlackBird wrote:A question for you friend. How did you determine the 3 principal suttas?

:anjali:

Hi BlackBird,
I didn't mean to definitively label them as being "principal," especially not in a way that was intended to demote the rest of the canon to secondary status. However, in a few readings I have encountered, they are grouped together as the three cardinal discourses of the Buddha. E.g.: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/nanamoli/wheel017.html. Obviously the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta has specials tatus among suttas, and the eminence of the Anatta-lakkhana and aditta-pariyaya suttas is attested to, if nothing else, by the frequency with which they are chanted, as compared to other Suttas.
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Re: Teaching Theravada to College Students

Postby BlackBird » Sat Oct 03, 2009 6:28 am

Very good indeed :anjali:
"For a disciple who has conviction in the Teacher's message & lives to penetrate it, what accords with the Dhamma is this:
'The Blessed One is the Teacher, I am a disciple. He is the one who knows, not I." - MN. 70 Kitagiri Sutta
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Re: Teaching Theravada to College Students

Postby Mawkish1983 » Sat Oct 03, 2009 8:40 am

Just a thought but you could make mention of why we have the pali canon in writing at all, maybe mention what happened in Sri Lanka and how Burma helped restart the island's Theravada again later. I think any Theravada-specific discussion should be centred around the canon. :) just a thought
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Re: Teaching Theravada to College Students

Postby retrofuturist » Sat Oct 03, 2009 8:45 am

Greetings,

Mawkish1983 wrote: I think any Theravada-specific discussion should be centred around the canon. :) just a thought


Yes, with passing mention to the existence of the agamas etc., their likeness to the Pali suttas, and their neglected status in Mahayana Buddhism.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


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One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Teaching Theravada to College Students

Postby appicchato » Sat Oct 03, 2009 9:39 am

Mawkish1983 wrote:...and how Burma helped restart the island's Theravada again later.


It was the Siamese (Thais), not the Burmese...
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Re: Teaching Theravada to College Students

Postby Mawkish1983 » Sat Oct 03, 2009 11:34 am

appicchato wrote:It was the Siamese (Thais), not the Burmese...

Gotcha :) good thing someone knows what they're talking about! (because, you know, I don't)
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Re: Teaching Theravada to College Students

Postby Individual » Sat Oct 03, 2009 5:58 pm

Raga Mala wrote:--Meaning of "Theravada" - way of the elders

I'd add to this the term "Vibhajjavada" and how it characterizes the teaching method of Theravada.

Raga Mala wrote:--"Essential Tenets of Theravadin Buddhism:
---Three Refuges (meaning of refuge, etc)
---Five precepts
---Three marks of existence (though this is not theravada-exclusive, I want to make sure students don't leave teh class without it)
---The three principal Suttas (first discourse, fire sermon, anatta discourse), have them read (at least excerpts) and discuss

I'd add to this Dependent Origination and Rebirth.
The best things in life aren't things.

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Re: Teaching Theravada to College Students

Postby vitellius » Sat Oct 03, 2009 9:03 pm

Or may be this way:

1. Life and teaching of Buddha as presented in Pali Canon
1.1 Structure of Pali Canon
1.2 Buddha's life, including context of other samana traditions
1.3 Main teachings (4NT, 8FNW, 37 factors of enlightenment etc.)

2. Historical development of Theravada Buddhism
2.1 Early Buddhism in India
2.2 Early Theravada in Sri Lanka (Vimuttimagga, Commentaries, Visuddhimagga)
2.3 From middle ages to modern time

3. Modern state of Theravada
3.1 By state
3.2 By subtraditions
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Re: Teaching Theravada to College Students

Postby Raga Mala » Sun Oct 04, 2009 7:48 pm

Prof Hanson wanted me to cover the following, per our meeting today. These are broad categories, but what do you think of each:

-->Distinguishing Mahayana from Theravada in the modern world.

-->Reinforcing/clarifying on Anatta

-->Reinforcing/clarifying on Nibbana

-->"Hinayana" meaning/use of term

-->Place of Women in Theravada

-->Similarities between Mahayana/Theravada
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Re: Teaching Theravada to College Students

Postby jhana.achariya » Mon Oct 05, 2009 2:41 am

Raga Mala

Dhamma studied and taught in the right way adheres to the principle of cause & effect and applies this principle to the two sides of suffering and freedom from suffering.

These dhammas result in suffering. These dhammas result in freedom from suffering. This is dhamma studied and taught in the right way.

With metta

:sage:
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Re: Teaching Theravada to College Students

Postby Raga Mala » Mon Oct 05, 2009 6:03 am

Here's my working outline for now:
THERAVADA BUDDHISM INTRO FALL ‘09
SESSION ONE, OCT 19TH, “INTRODUCING THE THERAVADA”
I. What does Thera-vada mean?


II. Distinguishing Theravada from Mahayana
A. Historically

B. Modern World

C. Terminology
1. “Hinayana”

2. “Nikaya Schools”
D. Similarities and inter-relation Mahayana and Theravada

III. The Canon
A. History of the Pali Canon
1. The First Council/Oral Preservation

2. Transmission to Sri Lanka/Saved in Writing

B. Organization of the Canon
1. Vinaya Pitaka

2. Sutta Pitaka
a. Digha Nikaya

b. Majjhima Nikaya

c. Samyutta Nikaya

d. Anguttara Nikaya

e. Khuddaka Nikaya

3. Abhidhamma Pitaka

IV. Essential Concept: Dana-Sila-Bhavana
A. Dana - Generosity

B. Sila - Virtue (Five Precepts)

C. Bhavana – Meditative Development
1. Samadhi

2. Vipassana






SESSION TWO, OCT 21st, “THE THREE THREES”
I. The Three Refuges
A. Buddha

B. Dhamma

C. Sangha
1. Bhiikhu-sangha

2. Ariyan-sangha

II. The Three Marks of Conditioned Existence
A. Dukkha

B. Anicca

C. Anatta

III. The Three Cardinal Discourses of the Buddha
A. The Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta

B. The Anatta-lukkhana Sutta

C. The Aditta-pariyaya Sutta
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Re: Teaching Theravada to College Students

Postby Individual » Mon Oct 05, 2009 6:41 am

Raga Mala wrote:Here's my working outline for now:
THERAVADA BUDDHISM INTRO FALL ‘09
SESSION ONE, OCT 19TH, “INTRODUCING THE THERAVADA”
I. What does Thera-vada mean?


II. Distinguishing Theravada from Mahayana
A. Historically

B. Modern World

C. Terminology
1. “Hinayana”

2. “Nikaya Schools”
D. Similarities and inter-relation Mahayana and Theravada

III. The Canon
A. History of the Pali Canon
1. The First Council/Oral Preservation

2. Transmission to Sri Lanka/Saved in Writing

B. Organization of the Canon
1. Vinaya Pitaka

2. Sutta Pitaka
a. Digha Nikaya

b. Majjhima Nikaya

c. Samyutta Nikaya

d. Anguttara Nikaya

e. Khuddaka Nikaya

3. Abhidhamma Pitaka

IV. Essential Concept: Dana-Sila-Bhavana
A. Dana - Generosity

B. Sila - Virtue (Five Precepts)

C. Bhavana – Meditative Development
1. Samadhi

2. Vipassana






SESSION TWO, OCT 21st, “THE THREE THREES”
I. The Three Refuges
A. Buddha

B. Dhamma

C. Sangha
1. Bhiikhu-sangha

2. Ariyan-sangha

II. The Three Marks of Conditioned Existence
A. Dukkha

B. Anicca

C. Anatta

III. The Three Cardinal Discourses of the Buddha
A. The Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta

B. The Anatta-lukkhana Sutta

C. The Aditta-pariyaya Sutta

Where do the Four Noble Truths fit in there?
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Re: Teaching Theravada to College Students

Postby Raga Mala » Tue Oct 06, 2009 5:41 am

Individual wrote:Where do the Four Noble Truths fit in there?

As I tried to make clear, a general Buddhism overview is not my purpose--she will already have covered 4NT, and while they are important, I prefer to spend my limited time discussing what I am meant to discuss (i.e. the Theravada) rather than reviewing basic Buddhism material.
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Re: Teaching Theravada to College Students

Postby Raga Mala » Sat Oct 10, 2009 10:24 am

The Prof's notes on my proposed outline:

> THERAVADA BUDDHISM INTRO FALL ‘09
>
> SESSION ONE, OCT 19TH, “INTRODUCING THE THERAVADA”
>
> I. What does Thera-vada mean?
>
>
>
>
>
> II. Distinguishing Theravada from Mahayana
>
> A. Historically
>
>
>
> B. Modern World
>
>
>
> C. Terminology
>
> 1.
> “Hinayana”
>
>
>
> 2. “Nikaya
> Schools”
>
> D. Similarities
> and inter-relation Mahayana and Theravada
>
>
>
> III. The Canon
>
> A. History of the Pali Canon (GO 'LIGHT' ON THIS
MATERIAL ... SPECIFICALLY UNDERSCORE HOW THIS HISTORY WOULD BE
IMPORTANT FOR A GLOBAL CITIZEN OF TODAY TO KNOW .... AND IF IT'S NOT
CRITICAL, THEN PERHAPS FOREGO. EXPLORATION OF OTHER CONCEPTS SUCH AS
NATURE OF SELF --- PARTICULARLY 5 SKANDHAS-- AND NIRVANA MIGHT BE MORE
HELPFUL LONG-TERM.)

>
> 1.
> The First Council/Oral Preservation
>
>
>
> 2. Transmission to Sri
> Lanka/Saved in Writing
>
>
>
> B.
> Organization of the Canon (IT WILL BE USEFUL FOR THEM TO HEAR ABOUT
THE 3 BASKETS BUT THEN GO OVERVIEW. AGAIN, KEEP BEING GUIDED BY THE
PRINCIPAL OF LONG-TERM RELEVANCE. YOU CAN OVERTLY TELL THEM THAT I
WILL ASK ABOUT THE TERM "PITAKA" BUT WILL NOT BE HOLDING THEM
RESPONSIBLE FOR THE SPECIFIC NAMES.
WHEN ACTUALLY REVIEWING NAMES, I WOULD SUGGEST USING AN ACCESSIBLE
TRANSLATION .... CERTAINLY SAY THE 'REAL' NAME BUT THEIR HEADS WILL
SWIM IF YOU USE ONLY THE PALI NAME AS YOU PROCEED.)

>
> 1.
> Vinaya Pitaka
>
>
>
> 2.
> Sutta Pitaka
>
> a.
> Digha Nikaya
>
>
>
> b.
> Majjhima Nikaya
>
>
>
> c.
> Samyutta Nikaya
>
>
>
> d.
> Anguttara Nikaya
>
>
>
> e.
> Khuddaka Nikaya
>
>
>
> 3.
> Abhidhamma Pitaka
>
>
>
> IV. Essential Concept: Dana-Sila-Bhavana [ALL ARE ESSENTIAL??? BE
SELECTIVE. YOU MAY WANT TO SPEND MORE TIME ON THESE CONCEPTS AND LESS
ON THE TEXTS, PARTICULARLY GIVEN THE PLACE OF TEXTS IN BUDDHISM ...
WHICH IN ITSELF MIGHT BE SOMETHING TO MENTION.]

>
> A. Dana
> - Generosity
>
>
>
> B. Sila
> - Virtue (Five Precepts)
>
>
>
> C.
> Bhavana – Meditative Development
>
> 1.
> Samadhi
>
>
>
> 2.
> Vipassana [THIS IS A TERM THAT GLOBAL CITIZENS SHOULD KNOW]

PERHAPS THE INTEREST WILL START TO WANE, BUT CURRENTLY STUDENTS ARE
STILL STRUGGLING WITH PERSONHOOD IN BUDDHISM ... SO WHAT CONSTITUTES
OUR SENSE OF SELF? HOW DOES ONE KNOW THAT HE KNOWS? BECAUSE THESE
ARE THE QUESTIONS, EXPLORATION MAY BE MORE VALUABLE THAN
MEMORIZATION. YOUR VOICE AND MANNERS WILL MESMERIZE AND LOTS OF INFO
WILL FLOW IN .... HOWEVER, IT MAY NOT HOLD UNLESS YOU ARE HAVING THEM
ACTIVELY WORK WITH, SEE THE RELEVANCE, 'PLAY' WITH THE IDEAS AND
CONCEPTS YOU ARE PRESENTING. IN THESE OUTLINES YOU HAVEN'T NOTED
PEDAGOGICAL HINTS .... AND YOU ARE A NATURAL TEACHER, SO I'M SURE SOME
WILL COME NATURALLY. BUT THAT WOULD BE MY ONLY NUDGE -- REMEMBER
ACTIVE EXPLORATION FOR RETENTION (A PRINCIPAL I MOUTH WELL BUT
PRACTICE LESS THAN I'D LIKE!!)

>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
> SESSION TWO, OCT 21st, “THE THREE THREES”

[THEY DO NEED TO KNOW THESE --- EVERYTHING YOU ARE COVERING HERE IS
ESSENTIAL!! THESE ARE CRITICAL TO BEING SOMEWHAT KNOWLEDGEABLE ABOUT
AND AT-LEAST-PARTIALLY GRASPING BUDDHISM. YOU CAN ALERT STUDENTS THAT
I SAID THIS!]

>
> I. The Three Refuges
>
> A.
> Buddha
>
>
>
> B.
> Dhamma
>
>
>
> C.
> Sangha
>
> 1.
> Bhiikhu-sangha
>
>
>
> 2.
> Ariyan-sangha
>
>
>
> II. The Three Marks of Conditioned Existence
>
> A.
> Dukkha
>
>
>
> B.
> Anicca
>
>
>
> C.
> Anatta
>
>
>
> III. The Three Cardinal Discourses of the Buddha
>
> A. The
> Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta
>
>
>
> B. The
> Anatta-lukkhana Sutta
>
>
>
> C. The
> Aditta-pariyaya Sutta
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