Religious Studies | Studies in Religion: Buddhist Ritual
R300 | 14748 | Nance


The above course carries Arts and Humanities distribution.

This course provides an introduction to Buddhist ritual practice. We
will begin by tracing the history of the concept of "ritual" and
exploring several theories of ritual articulated in anthropology and
the history of religions. A number of questions will animate our
investigation. Among them: just what is a ritual? How is ritual
practice to be distinguished from other forms of practice? Do
rituals have meaning? If they do, who is qualified to specify what
they mean?
What are rituals held to accomplish by those who engage in and/or
analyze them?

Following this inquiry, we will examine a number of practices that
have historically been undertaken by Buddhists: image consecration,
relic veneration, pilgrimage, the recitation of mantras, meditative
visualization, and the elaborate synthesis of many of these
practices in Buddhist tantra. Should these practices be thought of
as rituals?
Does thinking of them in this way help us to understand them? What
does such a categorization highlight? What does it obscure?

Course readings will be supplemented by films and/or field trips to
Buddhist centers around Bloomington.