Selected Readings of World Buddhist Literature

Subject code ABS931
Lecturer Dr Elizabeth McDougal
Delivery mode Online, live
On campus, live
Duration 10 weeks
Next start date Visit timetable

Subject Overview

The subject aims to cultivate students’ analytical ability and understanding of Buddhist textual traditions from which the teachings and practices of modern Buddhism have developed. It focuses on textual representations of Buddhist meditation (mindfulness in particular) which is perceived to be at the heart of Buddhism. The subject explores how different methods of meditative practices are viewed and presented in some of the most influential texts on Buddhist meditation (such as the Satipatthāna-sutta) within major Buddhist traditions. The selected texts on meditation are read in English translation, critically analysed, and their relevance for contemporary meditation practices discussed and reflected upon. Since the texts read in this subject are on meditation, various meditative techniques are explored also in practice. The subject informs students on different methodological approaches to textual analysis, provides foundations and background for deeper understanding of Buddhist meditation within its historical and cultural framework and its relation to contemporary meditation practices such as mindfulness, applied in a variety of new contexts.



Learning Outcomes

  1. Demonstrate critical insight into oral and written Buddhist textual traditions, focusing on transmission of teaching of mindfulness and other types of Buddhist meditation.
  2. Demonstrate understanding of different approaches and identity problems related to ready and interpreting teachings of different Buddhist texts on meditation.
  3. Develop the ability to compare and analyse different versions of the same Buddhist texts on meditation (in their various English translations) and understand the implications and influences of different textual interpretations on concrete practices of meditation as they are taught in modern Buddhism.
  4. Critically analyse Buddhist meditation as practice that is historically conditioned and identify how it reflects the cultural paradigms, both past and present, in which it developed.




  • Assessment 1: Summary of reflective journal (10%, due week 2)
  • Assessment 2: Assignment on issues related to meditation practice (30%, due week 6)
  • Assessment 3: Research paper (60%, due week 10)


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