Buddhist Sutra Literature

Eugene Lang College Lib Arts: Religion

Liberal Arts

Undergraduate Course

Degree Students

Buddhist Sutra Lit

Spring 2021

Taught By: Christopher Kelley

Section: A

CRN: 8656

Credits: 4

Several hundred years after the Buddha passed away, a new genre of “sūtra” literature emerged that sought to illuminate two revolutionary ideas—śūnyatā (philosophical relativism) and bodhicitta (pure altruism). Supporters of these sūtras, proponents of the Mahāyāna tradition, believe that these teachings were so profound that they necessitated secret transmission via a lineage of supernatural beings until the time was deemed appropriate for people to fully appreciate them. This explanation raises interesting and provocative questions about literary freedom and power in Buddhism, but also exemplifies the magical surrealism that is indicative of this novel literary style. In this course we adopt a Foucauldian approach to literature that recognizes the mutual imbrication of religion, culture and power. We will read Mahāyāna sūtras such as: The Gaṇḍavyūha Sūtra (“Supreme Array”); a mind-bending story about an individual’s spiritual quest for ultimate truth that also raises interesting questions about power, wealth and gender in ancient India.

College: Eugene Lang College Lib Arts (LC)

Department: Religion (LREL)

Campus: Online (DL)

Course Format: Seminar (R)

Max Enrollment: 21

Add/Drop Deadline: February 8, 2021 (Monday)

Online Withdrawal Deadline: April 13, 2021 (Tuesday)

Seats Available: No

Status: Closed*

* Status information is updated every five minutes. The status of this course may have changed since the last update. Open seats may have restrictions that will prevent some students from registering. Updated: 8:02am 5/12/2021 EDT

Meeting Info:

Days: Tuesday, Thursday

Times: 10:00am - 11:40am

Building: Online Course

Date Range: 1/19/2021 - 5/6/2021