Naropa University Oakland

Masters of Liberal Arts  Program in Creation Spirituality 



CSP632B         Number of Credit Units:  1


Instructor:  Hana Matt     Instructor’s Contact Telephone Number: 510-848-9779.          

E-mail Address: 

Class Schedule:  Spring Semester 2004, Tuesdays 9:30 a.m.- 12:00 noon   (The first 5 weeks of the semester, from Feb.10-Mar.9)


Course Description:   An exploration of the basic teachings and practices of the spiritual traditions of Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, and Indigenous Religions. This course will emphasize the engaged spirituality within each tradition and how this may be applied to contemporary issues and problems, such as overcoming negative behavior patterns, addictions, stress, etc.  The result for the participant could be an awakening to compassionate service.


Course Requirements:

1.      Attendance and class participation…..  25%

2.      Weekly readings…….25%

3.      Written work:  4-5 page paper……..50%


Required Reading: 

Five small readers:

1) Christianity 2) Judaism 3) Islam 4) Hinduism 5) Buddhism and Indigenous Religions.


All 5 readers can be ordered and will be sent to you by a xerox store in Berkeley, CA. Just order them by phone or e-mail and they will send the readers to you directly: 

Fast Imaging Center for Printing.  E-mail: .  Tel. (510) 845-6333 Fax. 510 845-5086 University Ave. Berkeley, CA 94704. You may also order and pick them up at the store instead.

Recommended Reading: Fox, Matthew, One River, Many Wells

Course Objectives and Outline: 

Feb. 10:    Native, Earth-based, Indigenous Religions.  We will learn about the ancient teachings from several of the Native traditions of North and South America.  What are some of their methods to come to access the Living Spirit?  We will explore basic spiritual beliefs, principles, the ways of worship, rituals, and individual spiritual practices.  Some native ways to come to empowerment by accessing the Great Spirit are: ritual, music, chanting, drumming, simple body movements as a community, healing practices and individual spiritual practices.

Assignment: Read section in reader on Native, Earth-based, Indigenous Religions. 

·        2-Feb. 17: Hinduism:  We will learn the basic teachings and practices, for example, the concept of the Atman: the Divine Self within and without. (The Self to which Jung referred).  How do we access that Sacred Self and live from it in our daily lives, and help awaken it in others?  The cultivation of the 3-legged stool for a full sacred life: 1) Self-care; 2) Deepening Relationships;  and  3) Re-inventing work, service.  We will explore the 8-limbed Path to Spiritual Liberation.  What can we bring into our own lives which can deepen our own spiritual life without violating our own tradition?

Assignment:  Read the reader on The Spirituality of Hinduism.


Feb. 24:    Buddhism and Taoism. 

In Taoism we will learn about its basic teachings and practices.  The emphasis will be on bringing balance and centeredness into the midst of the busyness of our everyday lives.  How can we construct a life of balance in our own lives?  How can we renew our life-force? This spiritual tradition is the basis of Tai Chi, Karate, all martial arts, and acupuncture.

In Buddhism we will examine the 4 Noble Truths, and the 8-Fold Path to Enlightenment.  We will experience several teachings and practices to to transform suffering and to live from one’s radiant, luminous, true nature.  We will explore the many ways that Buddhist practices can aid us, for example, mindfulness and awareness.  We will learn practices which are used to address the overcoming of unwanted behaviors, addictions, depression, anxiety, stress, fears, and relationship problems.

Assignment:  Read the sections in the reader on The Spiritualities of Buddhism and Taoism

Mar. 2:    Islamic Mysticism, Sufism, and Rumi. 

We will explore the main teachings and practices of Islam and Sufism.  We will delve deeply into The Five Pillars of Islam and the Sufi spiritual interpretation of each one.  We will experience the body prayer of the Islamic daily prayer, incorporating sacred phrases in each of the various prayer poses and postures.  We will also experience a sacred Sufi ritual and practice, music, and simple dance movements which we do as a community.  We will explore the powerful teachings and practices of Rumi.

Assignment:  Read the section of the reader on The Spirituality of Islam

Mar. 9:    Jewish Spirituality.  

We will explore the wisdom teachings of Jewish spirituality which enable one to have communion with the Divine (“devekut”) and a fuller experience of the Holy Presence in the middle of work, community, individual issues and problems.  We will learn practices to access the vivifying Source of vibrant aliveness. How do we transform our afflictive states and find true joy (“simhah”)? How do we access the Shekhinah:  the feminine Divine Presence?  We will conclude the course with an experience of a joyous Shabbat (Sabbath) celebration in class with candles, wine, eating hallah (ritual bread), music, singing, and easy dancing anyone can do.  We will explore how we can bring some of this into our own traditions to enliven them. How can we re-invigorate ourselves, have more vibrancy, and have a fuller direct experience of the Divine. 

Assignment:  Read the section in the reader on The Spirituality of Judaism