Foundational Texts in Humanistic Buddhism

Subject Overview

This subject serves as a survey of texts contributing to the development of Humanistic Buddhism worldwide.  Students will become acquainted with recent scholarship on doctrines and historical development based on key passages from canonical texts such as Majjhima Nikāya, Buddhacarita, Diamond Sūtra, Platform Sūtra, Lotus Sūtra, Bodhicaryāvatāra, Vimalakirti Sūtra and Sumati Sūtra.

A study of more recent commentaries of these sūtras by humanistic Buddhist masters aims to cultivate students’ analytical ability and understanding of contemporary interpretation.  In addition, the subject informs students about different methodological approaches to textual analysis, issues with translation, as well as the writings and lives of exemplary Buddhist practitioners.


Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this subject, participants will be able to:

  • Analyse and evaluate Buddhist textual tradition, focusing on the transmission and interpretation of teachings and practices for socially-engaged Humanistic Buddhism
  • Demonstrate understanding of Humanistic Buddhism approaches through identifying relevant problems and synthesising practical solutions.
  • Critically analyse and communicate the implications and influences of textual interpretations and different cultural paradigms of Buddhist practices on contemporary Humanistic Buddhist masters
  • Demonstrate the ability to pose questions, investigate and analyse contemporary Humanistic Buddhist thought, and demonstrate application of the findings through oral and written academic reports on a program.

Lecture topics and class activities include

  • Introduction to the history of the compilation of Buddhist sūtras, including review of the development of different Buddhist textual tradition
  • Buddhist hermeneutics
  • The Nikāyas and Āgamas
  • Humanistic virtues in Diamond SūtraPlatform SūtraLotus SūtraBodhicaryāvatāra
  • The Buddha’s humanistic lifestyle (Buddhacarita)
  • Practices of Buddhist laity (Vimalakirti Sūtra and Sumati Sūtra)
  • Eminent Buddhist monastics

Subject Structure

This subject runs for five weeks, with the following structure:

Week 1: Pre-reading of prescribed texts
Week 2:  Digital Intensive Classroom (5 days x 8 hrs/day)
Weeks 3 – 5: Submission of assessments online



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