MYSTICISM EAST AND WEST              

                                                            

                                                        white

 

 

 

ANNOUNCEMENTS

 

Reading for week of April 20:

 

Chapters 68 and 69 from The Cloud of Unknowing (available at http://catholicspiritualdirection.org/cloudunknowing.pdf).

 

EXAM #2 on Wed. April 13    Questions available on Blackboard

 

Reading for April 4
From the Bible (www.biblehub.com or any Bible)
1. Book of Daniel Chapter 12
2. Revelation Chap. 8.9, 12, 21
3. Gospel of Luke Chap. 21

From the Quran (www.quran.com)
Chapters 69, 82, 99

 

FIRST ESSAY DUE MARCH 31 by midnight, uploaded into Blackboard.  See Blackboard site for essay topics.

 

ASSIGNMENT FOR MARCH 28:

Reps, Zen Flesh, Zen Bones: read the "Gateless Gate" section.

 

 

ASSIGNMENT FOR MARCH 21: read theclassic Chinese text the Tao Te Ching.  A variety of translations are available at http://www.edepot.com/tao15.html.  Please read this short text in its entirety, choosing any translation you like from this site (for those who prefer not to have to choose: read the McCaroll version).

 

ASSIGNMENT FOR MARCH 7:  read Plato, Symposium excerpt  and Republic cave allegory

 

Assignment for Feb. 29: read Plato, Meno:  Meno Excerpt

     Questions to consider:  -- what is the point of the demonstration of teaching the slave boy?

                                         -- does Socrates prove that learning is recollection?

 

 

FIRST EXAMINATION on Wednesday Feb. 24.  Exam questions available on Blackboard.

 

Assignment for week of Feb. 16/17:  from Hindu scripture "The Upanishads"  Chandogya Upanishad, Chapters 6, 7, 8 (= Prapathaka 6, 7, 8)

Available at                       http://www.hinduwebsite.com/sacredscripts/hinduism/upanishads/chandogya.asp#Pra4

 

 

 

Assignment for Monday Feb. 8: 1.  http://origins.swau.edu/bible/literal.html; http://people.cas.sc.edu/lewiske/heresy.html  (no paragraph required)

                                                 2.   Read Aquinas handout  Aquinas on interpreting the Bible

 

Homework for Monday Feb. 1: read  Bertrand Russell's critique of James here.   Write 1 paragraph summary.

 

Homework for Monday Jan. 25: Read William James, "Mysticism," Lectures XVI & XVII, from Varieties of Religious Experience; Draft a one-paragraph summary of James' account of mysticism. James book available online:  http://www.csp.org/experience/james-varieties/james-varieties.html

 

 

 

INSTRUCTIONS FOR BLACKBOARD:

BLACKBOARD CLASS SITE:   class materials such as powerpoint slides, handouts, and other materials will be posted on the Blackboard class site. 

 

Blackboard Access Information for Students: 

To get your Blackboard username and password:
1. Go to http://continuinged.uml.edu/online/confirmation/
2. Carefully enter the information required to retrieve your username and password.
3. Print out the confirmation screen for your records.

To access the online supplement for your course:
1. Go to https://continuinged.uml.edu/login/login.cfm
2. Enter your Blackboard username and password and click the Login button

 

Books Required:

 

Paul Reps: Zen Flesh, Zen Bones

Eugen Herrigel: Zen in the Art of Archery

 

HANDOUTS

 

1. Aquinas on interpreting the Bible

 

reading assignments

1. William James, "Mysticism," Lectures XVI & XVII, from Varieties of Religious Experience; Draft a one-paragraph summary of James' account of mysticism. James book available online:  http://www.csp.org/experience/james-varieties/james-varieties.html

Also available on Google Books: http://books.google.com/ (search under William James, Varieties of Religious Experience)

 Bertrand Russell's critique of James here.  

2.  Biblical Literalism: http://origins.swau.edu/bible/literal.html; http://people.cas.sc.edu/lewiske/heresy.html

3. The Upanishads

                        Isavasya Upanishad; Chandogya I, II, VI; Brhadaranyaka III; Katha; Svetasvatara; Maitri.

Questions to think about:  -- What is the 'atman' and what is its relation to Brahman?  What is the rebirth doctrine, and should it be taken literally?

4. Plato, Meno:  Meno Excerpt

   Plato, Symposium, excerpt

        Excerpt from Phaedrus

Optional: Plato's cave allegory from the Republic

5. Tao Te Ching: read in entirety.

    Question: Is Taoism a form of mysticism?

6. Zen in the Art of Archery: read in entirety.

    For a critical perspective, look at: www.nanzan-u.ac.jp/SHUBUNKEN/publications/jjrs/pdf/586.pdf

7. Reps, Zen Flesh, Zen Bones: read the "Gateless Gate" section.

         Question: what is the purpose of these koans?  Do they have a meaning, or are they just trying to confuse us?

8.  The Apocalyptic Tradition in Judeo-Christian-Islamic Thought

Readings:
From the Bible (www.biblehub.com or any Bible)
1. Book of Daniel Chapter 12
2. Revelation Chap. 8.9, 12, 21
3. Gospel of Luke Chap. 21

From the Quran (www.quran.com)
Chapters 69, 82, 99

10. Gnostic Christianity: The Gospel of Thomas  http://www.misericordia.edu/users/davies/thomas/Trans.htm

11. The Cloud of Unknowing (excerpts to be provided) and Dark Night of the Soul

 

ARTICLES OF INTEREST

Mysticism and the Brain

http://www.slate.com/id/2165004

Physics and Mysticism/Holism

http://www.theamericanscholar.org/sp07/newtheory-lanza.html

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/physics-holism/

Mysticism and Intoxication

Psilocybin: http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/Press_releases/2006/07_11_06.html

Information on Meditation

How to Do Zazen

OM Meditation

 

________________________________________________________________________________________

Philosophy 45.340                                                                

 

"Philosophy, after all its aberrations, has always to return to the primary truth that every genuinely profound and living worldview is of a mystical character, in the sense that it consists of some kind of conscious and willing surrender to the mysterious and infinite will-to-live, from which we are."      Albert Schweitzer (1931)

"The most beautiful and most profound experience is the sensation of the mystical. It is the sower of all true science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead. To know that what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their primitive forms - this knowledge, this feeling is at the center of true religiousness."
Albert Einstein - The Merging of Spirit and Science

 

What Is Mysticism?

Mysticism is not itself a distinct religion, but it has been called the 'perennial philosophy' because it, according to its advocates, constitutes the essential core of all religions.  At the heart of mysticism is the individual mystical experience: by meditation or asceticism or other practices, or sometimes purely spontaneously, the individual can undergo an experience which can be described as a feeling of union with the Absolute, however one describes this Absolute (God, Nature, Being, Truth).  All religions seem to have a mystical tradition within them, though some religions are generally considered to be more "mystical" than others.  Usually, Eastern religions such as Hinduism or Buddhism are considered more mystical than Western religions such as Christianity or Islam.  But Western religions have always had a vibrant and powerful mystical element; the literature of Christian mysticism is enormous.

 

GRADED ASSIGNMENTS:

 

There will be two in-class blue book exams and two 3-5 page essays during the course of the semester; each is worth 25% of the grade (though attendance and participation are factored into the grade as well).  Please note that the second essay will be the final exam for the class; there is no on-campus final exam.

 

 

Books To Be Studied in This Course:

Plato, Meno, Symposium

Tao Te Ching

The Upanishads

Paul Reps, Zen Flesh, Zen Bones

Eugen Herrigel, Zen in the Art of Archery (1953)

William James, Varieties of Religious Experience (1902)

____________________________________________________________________________________

SCHEDULE OF TOPICS

1. The idea of 'mystery'

2. William James on mystical experience

3. The validity of Mystical Experience

4. Intoxication, ecstasy and mysticism

5. Religion and the Modern World; Literalism and Fundamentalism

6. Sufism: Islamic Mysticism

7. Indian Mysticism: The Upanishads

8. Plato: Meno and Symposium

9. The Tao Te Ching

10. Zen Buddhism

11. Christian Mysticism: The New Testament

        Geese Over a Beach, Maruyama Okyo  "Geese Over A Beach" (18th Century Japanese)