Naropa University Oakland

Master of Liberal Arts Program in Creation Spirituality


Seminar Syllabus – Engaged Buddhism


CSP: 690                                                         Number of Credit Units: 1


Instructor: Ana Perez-Chisti, Ph.D.     Instructor’s Contact number: 510-594-1729

E-mail address:


Class Schedule: Spring semester, Five Wednesdays, 9:30-12:00, Beginning Feb. 12 through March 12th 2003.


Course Description: Many Buddhist communities around the globe are participating in major alternative models of social service and community involvement that brings benefit to people in all conditions of life. Our happiness is inextricably bound up with the happiness of others. Through kindness, honesty, truth and justice toward all others, we insure our own benefit. Participants of this class will study the philosophical principles and training found in Buddhism by examining inherent codes for body/mind/world inter-relatedness preparing us for compassionate action. A philosophy of peacefulness is what is necessary in our time and our class meetings will give us the opportunity to embrace the concept of this universal responsibility. 


Course Objectives:

1.      To gain an understanding of Buddhism in its practical “engaged” social dimension, both in terms of clear seeing of situations and moral guidelines concerning appropriate action.

2.      To develop a familiarity with human suffering, and a willingness to engage effectively with individuals in need through programs of social service (such as hospitals, hospice or shelters and community programs).

3.      To awaken insight and awareness from Engaged Buddhist leaders that help us identify and become more responsive socially.

4.      To know how to find specific organizations who are engaged in service and human rights, and how to implement the process of engaged awareness so that change may occur within organizations for the purpose of social outreach.

5.      To incorporate contemplative skills in our daily life, our work, our relationships and our responses to crisis near at hand around the globe.


Course Requirements:

1.       Attendance                                                                                    20%

2.       Weekly readings (Evidenced in papers and class discussions)          40%

3.       Final Paper (Please follow exact guidelines in manual)                     40%

4.       Total Requirements                                                                        100%


Required Texts:

Queen, Christopher S. and Sallie B. King. Engaged Buddhism – Buddhist Liberation Movement in Asia. Albany: State University Press, 1996.

            Walpole, Rahula. What the Buddha Taught. Boston: Wisdom Publications, 1997.

            Badnier, Allen Hunt (Editor). Dharma Gaia. Berkeley: Parallax Press, 1990.


Recommended Text:

H.H. the Dalai Lama. Ethics for the New Millennium. New York: Riverhead Books, 1999.

Eppsteiner, Fred. (Editor). The Path of Compassion-Writings on Socially Engaged Buddhism. Berkeley: Parallax Press, 1985.

Kotler, Arnold (Editor). Engaged Buddhist Reader. Berkeley: Parallax Press, 1996.

Carus, Paul. The Gospel of Buddha-According to Old Records. Tuscon: Omen Communications, Inc. 1972, 1974, 1981.

            Conze, Edward. Buddhist Scriptures. London: Penquin Books Publications, 1959.

U-Narada. The Dhammapada. Taiwan: The Corporate Body of theBuddha Educational Foundation, 1999.



Weekly Lectures and Schedule of Reading Assignments:


February 12th. Reading Assignment: What the Buddha Taught: Read Chapters 1-6, pages 1-66. Lecture and discussion will be on the The Buddhist Attitude of Mind, The First Noble Truth-Dukkha, The Second Noble Truth-Samudaya, The Third Noble Truth-Nirodha, The Forth Noble Truth-Magga, and the doctrine of “ No Soul”-Anatta.


February 19th, Reading Assignment: What the Buddha Taught: Read Chapter 7, pages 67-136. Lecture and discussion will be on the Buddha’s message in the world today, Nine Sacred Suttas, becoming familiar with Dhammapada – Buddhist Sacred Text.


February 26th, Reading Assignment: Engaged Buddhism: Read Chapters 1-6, pages 1-195. Lecture and discussion will be on Shapes and Sources of Engaged Buddhism and the Buddhist Vision for Renewing Society.


March 5th, Reading Assignment: Engaged Buddhim: Read Chapters 7-11, pages 259-437. Lecture and discussion will be on Buddhist Women and Buddhist Social Activisim.


March 12th, Reading Assignment: Dharma Gaia: Read Foreword and Part One, pages 3-136. Lecture and discussion will be on Green Buddhism and Experiencing Extended Mind. Read: pages 147-239. Lecture and discussion will be on Becoming Sangha and A Call to Action.