ANS 384 • The Buddha and Non-Buddhists
3:00 PM-6:00 PM
The Buddhist tradition has preserved a number of texts that describe the relationship of the Buddha with other religious teachers of his time. These texts contain reports of lively disputations between him and adherents of other teachers; they give account of various discussions about the evaluation of the beliefs and practices of non-Buddhists; and they present precise guidelines that prescribe how Buddhists should deal with them. In this seminar, we will examine those texts (in English translation), raising questions such as: What rhetorical devices does the Buddha apply to convince non-Buddhists of the truth of his doctrine? How does he deal with truth claims of other 'religions'? In what sense or to what extent can we speak of a Buddhist claim of exclusiveness? In examining these questions, we will also discuss rather general themes in the history of religions, such as religious tolerance and intolerance towards people of different faith; the process of integrating certain ideas in a religious system (e.g. by reinterpretation); ways of dealing with religious competitors with regard to material support; and the creation of religious identity.
Attendance/Participation: 50% One long research paper: 50%