CRN 15373 Religious Studies 101 World Religions of Asia, Fall 2017 LLCS101 11:00-11:50 MWF

Instructor: Mark T. Unno, SCH 334, TEL 346-4973, Office hours: Mon 10:00-10:45 a.m. & Tues 1:00-1:50 p.m.
Email: munno (at) Home Page: Go to this web site, NOT Canvas.

Introduction to selected strands of Asian Religions. This course examines key concepts and practices from such Asian religions as Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, and Daoism. Since there is not time to provide a comprehensive survey of all religions in Asia, this course provides a balance of some broad coverage with in-depth examination of primary scriptures, scholarly analysis, and contemporary issues. The focus of our examination will be on the philosophical understanding of religious ideas supported by a critical examination of historical context. We will study key ideas within the critical context of various cultural and historical issues such as gender, class, and ritual practices. As part of this study, we will also explore the contemporary relevance of historically derived ideas and practices.



1. Attendance: Required. Students can have one unexcused absence without penalty. Each class missed thereafter without prior permission will result in 1/2 grade penalty for the course grade. Attendance at weekly discussion sections is mandatory.

2. Short exams: Two short, in-class exams, based on materials from the readings, lectures, and course web site.

3. Short papers: Three short papers on the readings. More specific instructions will be provided on the course web site.

4. Presentation: Students will make a presentation on the readings for one of the section meetings. The presenter should NOT summarize the reading but should use the presentation to discuss why the selected ideas/passages in question are important for understanding the reading and proceed to explain and well as raise questions about these ideas/passages.

The primary purpose of these presentations is to launch the discussion, not to demonstrate breadth of knowledge or to lead the discussion. Each presenter will prepare a handout with 2 questions and brief, corresponding quotations from the readings. More detailed instructions will be provided on the course web site.

5. Medium-length paper: Each student will hand in a medium length final paper of 4-6 pages double-spaced. Suggested topics will be provided. Students may choose to create their own topics with the consent of their section leader. In the case of the latter, a one-paragraph description of the topic must be submitted by email to the instructor one week prior to the due date.

6. Late policy on written assignments: Three grace days total will be allotted excluding the medium-length paper for which no extensions will be given. For all other assignments, a cumulative total of three late days will be allowed without penalty. Thereafter, each late day will result in a two-point deduction from the course grade. Weekends are not counted against the grace days.

7. Email Protocol. Suggestion: Begin the term using one of the following when addressing the instructor:

Dear, Hello, Hi + Prof. Unno, Mr. Unno

If you like, you might later change to: Hello Mark, Hi Mark, etc., when you have established a working relationship with the instructor. Do NOT use: "Hey...." either with the instructor or with the GTF.

Learning Outcomes

In this course, you will: 1) gain a sampling (not a survey) of primary texts, ideas, and scholarly analyses of prominent strands and themes in Asian Religions, 2) delve into the assigned readings, uncovering layers of potential meaning and ramifications, 3) gain an understanding of the historical contexts and possible contemporary relevance of the readings and course materials, and 4) further develop in your ability to write papers as well as read texts closely and reason critically.




Required Texts (RT) (Information listed here is given in footnote/endnote format.)

1. Herbert Fingarette, Confucius-The Secular as Sacred (New York: Waveland, 1972).

2. D. C. Lau, trans., Tao Te Ching (New York: Penguin Books, 2003).

3. Thich Nhat Hanh, Being Peace (New York: Perseus Books, 2005).

4. Laurie Patton, trans. The Bhagavad Gita (NY: Penguin Books, 2014).

5. Course Reader, Religious Studies 101 World Religions-Asia, Fall 2017.
   Available at the Copy Shop, 539 E. 13th Street, Eugene, OR 97401, TEL 485 6253


Course Reader

1. Ralph T. H. Griffith, trans., The Hymns of the Rgveda (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1973) 206, 633-4.

2. Shree Purohit Swami and W. B. Yeats, trans., The Ten Principal Upanishads (Calcutta: Rupa, 1992) 90-92.

3. Joseph Campbell, Oriental Mythology - The Masks of God (NY: Penguin, 1991) 343-364.

4. Peter Harvey, An Introduction to Buddhism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990) 9-26.

5. Jay Garfield, trans., The Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way: Nagarjuna’s Mulamadhyamakakarika (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995), 293-307.

6. Mark Unno, "Key Ideas: Nagarjuna" and "Key Ideas: Philosophical Schools."

7. Robert A. F. Thurman, trans., The Holy Teaching of Vimalakirti (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1987) 56-63.

8. Taitetsu Unno, "Philosophical Schools-San-lun, T'ien-t'ai, and Hua-yen," in Buddhist Spirituality, ed. by Takeuchi Yoshinori (New York: Crossroad, 1995) 343-365.

9. Burton Watson, trans., Zhuangzi: Basic Writing (New York: Columbia Univ Press, 1993), 1-7, 31-41, 44, 61-62, 114-117, 128-129.

10. Heinrich Dumoulin, Zen Buddhism: A History-India and China (New York: Macmillan Publishing, 1988) 85-94.

11. Hayao KAWAI, "Japanese Mythology: Balancing the Gods," in his Dreams, Myths and Fairy Tales in Japan (Daimon, 1995) 67-97.

12. Mark Unno, "Key Terms - Philosophical Terms in the Zen Buddhist Thought of Dogen."

13. Norman Waddell and Masao Abe, trans., "Shobogenzo Genjokoan," by Dogen Kigen, The Eastern Buddhist 5:2 (10/1972) 129-140.

14. Mark Unno, "Key Terms - Pure Land Buddhism and the Philosophy of Honen and Shinran."

15. Mark Unno, "The Nembutsu as the Teaching of No-teaching: The Natural Unfolding of Compassion-Wisdom," The Pure Land 6 (1989) 45-65,

16. Nishitani Keiji, "Ikebana," Kyoto Journal 4 (Fall 1987) 33-35.

17. Paula Arai, "Soto Zen Nuns in Modern Japan: Keeping and Creating Tradition," Bulletin of the Nanzan Institute for Religion and Culture 14 (Summer 1990) 38-51.

18. The Dalai Lama (Tenzin Gyatso), A Policy of Kindness (Ithaca, NY: Snow Lion, 1990) 33-59.

19. Mu Soeng Sunim. Thousand Peaks: Korean Zen-Tradition & Teachers. Berkeley: Parallax Press, 1987. 28-48, 191-314.




REL 101 World Religions of Asia - Class schedule

Read assigned texts by the class meeting date indicated. (CR: Course Reader; CR 1 = Course Reader Selection No. 1; RT: Required Text)

Week 1 - Introduction; Hindiusm

9/25 Mon. Introduction: Syllabus; Definitions of “Religion.”

9/27 Wed. The Geography of Asian Religions; Vedic Religion. Read: Hymns of the Rgveda, CR1

9/29 Fri. Vedic Religion and Brahmanism. Read: Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita (excerpt) CR2, 3 (Alternative versions of Gita Ch. 2-3 included FYI).

Week 2 - Indian Religion: Bhagavad Gita; Early Indian Buddhism

10/2 Mon. L. Patton, trans., Bhagavad Gita, RT. (focus pages: vii-xxiv, 16-48, 70-100, 145-162).

10/4 Wed. Bhagavad Gita (cont.), Dance of Krishna and Gopis. Read: J. Campbell, Oriental Mythology, CR 3.

10/6 Fri. Early Indian Buddhism I - Shakyamuni Buddha - Peter Harvey, Introduction to Buddhism, CR 4.

Week 3 – Early Indian Buddhism, Mahayana Buddhism

10/9 Mon. Early Indian Buddhism II - Nikaya Buddhism - Key concepts and historical background

10/11 Wed. Indian Mahayana Buddhism: Nagarjuna and the Two-fold Truth. Read: Jay Garfield, The Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way; “Key Ideas: Nagarjuna and the Thought of Emptiness,” CR 5, 6.

Bodhisattva ideal. Read: The Holy Teaching of Vimalakirti, CR 7.

10/13 Fri. Chinese Buddhism, "The Philosophical Schools."                 Short paper I due in class.

Read: "Key Ideas: Taitetsu Unno, 'Philosophical Schools’," T. Unno, “Chinese Philosophical Schools,” CR 6, 8.

Week 4 - Ancient China I: Confucianism

10/16 Mon. The World of the Sage Kings. Read: Fingarette, Confucius: The Secular as Sacred, vii-xi, 1-56 RT.

10/18 Wed. Confucius and the world of ritual action. Read: Fingarette, Confucius, 57-81 RT.

10/20 Fri.                     Short exam A in class. Also: Introduction to Daoism.

Week 5 - Ancient China II: Daoism (Taoism): Laozi (Lao Tzu) and Zhuangzi (Chuang Tzu)

10/23 Mon. Laozi (Lao Tzu) - The Way: Read: Lao Tzu: Tao Te Ching (Daodejing), vii-xviii, 5-42 (Book One) RT.

10/25 Wed. Laozi & Zhuangzi - Read: Lao Tzu: Tao Te Ching, 45-88 (Book Two) RT. Zhuangzi, 1-7, 31-41, 44 CR 9.

10/27 Fri. Zhuangzi: Read: Zhuangzi, 61-62, 114-117, 128-129 CR 9             Short paper II due in class.

Week 6 - Medieval China: Early Chan/Zen; Medieval Korea: Unified Silla Period; Early Japan

10/30 Mon. Bodhidharma and Zen Buddhism. Read: Dumoulin, Zen Buddhism, CR 10. 

11/1 Wed. Korean Buddhists: Chajang, Uisang, and Wonhyo. Read: Thousand Peaks, pp. 28-38, CR 19.

11/3 Fri. The way of the kami - gods and goddesses. Read: Kawai, "Japanese Mythology," CR 11.

Week 7 - Medieval Japan I: Dogen and Zen Buddhism;

11/6 Mon. Dogen and Zen Buddhism.
Read: M. Unno, "Philosophical Terms in the Zen Buddhist Thought of Dogen," "Shobogenzo Genjokoan,"CR 12, 13. 

11/8 Wed. Dogen and Zen Buddhism (continued).

11/10 Fri. Shinran and Shin Buddhism. Read: Unno, "Key Terms - Pure Land Buddhism," CR 14.

Short paper III due in class.

Week 8 - Medieval Japan II: Shinran and Shin Buddhism; Modern Tibet: XIVth Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso

11/13 Mon. Shinran and Shin Buddhism.
Read: Taitetsu Unno, Tannisho, Foreword, 4-9, 14 (web site syllabus PDF link); M. Unno, "The Nembutsu of No-Meaning," 45-65 CR 15.

11/15 Wed. The XIVth Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso
Read: Dalai Lama, A Policy of Kindness, CR 18, 33-59.

11/17 Fri.                     Short exam B in class.

Week 9 - Modern Vietnamese Buddhism

11/20 Mon. Thich Nhat Hanh. Read: Being Peace, 1-44 RT.

11/22 Wed. Thich Nhat Hanh. Read: Being Peace, 45-90 RT.

11/24 Fri (Thanksgiving Break)

Week 10 - Modern Manifestations: Japanese and Korean

11/27 Mon. Soto Zen Nuns. Read: Nishitani, "Ikebana," Paula Arai, "Soto Zen Nuns," CR 16, 17.

11/29 Wed. Seung Sahn. Read: Thousand Peaks, 191-314, CR 19.

12/1 Fri. Final Lecture.             Final papers due in class.