Buddhist Perspectives on Nature
This course introduces a variety of Buddhist perspectives on the natural world, drawing on philosophical presentations in classical Buddhist texts as well as modern ecological interpretations, and historical and ethnographic studies of Buddhist cultures. Throughout the course, we will explore how these perspectives relate to core Buddhist doctrines as well as how they challenge common modern assumptions and categories (such as “man” vs. “nature”), and present alternative ways of relating to the more than human world in this moment of climate and ecological crisis.
Structure of course: Each week students will receive a narrative overview of the topic as well as recommended readings. Some weeks may include additional video/audio lecture content. As meetings will be primarily devoted to discussion, students are strongly encouraged to review class materials ahead of the Zoom meeting.
Prerequisites: Students new to Buddhism or the academic study of Buddhism are encouraged to study Rupert Gethin’s Foundations of Buddhism prior to the start of the course.)
Wednesdays, 9am-10:30am Pacific Time on Zoom.*
June 16 – July 28, 2021
*If a number of students would like to meet in the evening Pacific Time, it might be possible to arrange a second section.
Karin MeyersAcademic Director
Karin received a PhD with distinction from The University of Chicago Divinity School in 2010, and since then has taught Buddhist Studies at several colleges and universities in the US and abroad, including Kathmandu University and Rangjung Yeshe Institute’s Centre for Buddhist Studies in Nepal, where she directed the masters program in Buddhist Studies until returning to the US in 2017. Karin’s scholarly work focuses on bringing Buddhist perspectives to bear on cross-cultural and interdisciplinary inquiry into fundamental metaphysical, epistemological, and ethical questions. Karin has practiced Buddhism in Tibetan and Theravāda traditions and took a year in 2019 to serve as retreat support fellow at the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, MA. Before attending graduate school she worked at the Buddhist Peace Fellowship in the Bay Area and has recently returned to these socially engaged roots, promoting Buddhist activism in regard to the accelerating climate and ecological crisis.
As Academic Director, Karin will develop and teach Buddhist Studies courses in Mangalam’s residential and public programs; host public talks, conversations and conferences with academic scholars of Buddhist studies and related fields; and contribute to Mangalam’s publications and language programs, offering occasional courses in Pali, Sanskrit and Tibetan. Her mission is to help make scholarly research and classical Buddhist traditions accessible to Dharma practitioners, and to draw on these resources to support and inspire socially and ecologically engaged Buddhist thought and practice.