Topics for Paper II, REL101 World Religions: Asian Traditions

Due Friday, October 27, 2017 in class.

Topics (You may choose to do either "Your Own Topic" or one of the "Defined Topics" below. Be sure to follow the instructions in either case. Whether you do your own topic or one of the defined topics, you must provide page references/direct quotations from the readings to back up your ideas and arguments.

A. Your Own Topic
Select one passage from a primary source we have read for the course up to this point. i) Discuss why that passage is key to understanding the main ideas of the reading as a whole. ii) Relate that passage to two other passages from the reading to show how your idea about what the passage means is confirmed by other passages from the same or related texts. iii) What do you find compelling about the ideas in the passage in question, and what do you find to be problematic or questionable? iv) Discuss how the ideas represented in that passage made you reconsider your ideas about religion and/or ethics. AS THE TITLE OF YOUR PAPER, write "A." followed by an appropriate TITLE for your paper based on its content. For example, you might write: A. Confucian Rituals and Human Beings as Conduits for Cosmic Virtue.

B. Defined Topics

1. The Goddess from The Holy Teaching of Vimalakirti (course reader)
In the "Goddess chapter" The Holy Teaching of Vimalakirti the Goddess engages in a series of exchanges with the monk Sariputra. Discuss how two of the three following episodes from the "Goddess" chapter illustrates the two-fold truth of form and emptiness in different ways: a) the flower petals sticking to Sariputra and other monks' (disciples') robes, b) the Goddess' admonishment to Sariputra not to fall silent, and c) the exchange of gender between the Goddess and Sariputra.
2. Chinese Philosophical Schools
Compare and contrast the presentation of the two-fold truth made by Chi-tsang of the San-lun (Emptiness) school and Chih-i of the T'ien-t'ai school as explained by T. Unno in "Chinese Philosophical Schools" (course reader). Specifically describe how Chi-tsang's "Four Middles" and how Chih-i's view of the inherent karmic evil of sentient beings (human beings) each express the practical realization of the two-fold truth of form and emptiness differently.
3. Critiquing the Orchestral Vision of Confucius
Confucius sees society and the cosmos like the orchestral performance of a classical symphony: A fixed script, roles for everyone, ritualized behavior, and when combine properly, social and cosmic harmony. First, present this basic picture in your own words in 1-2 pages by identifying four or five key aspects of the orchestral vision. Second, offer a critique of this view using one of the other thinkers we have examined in this course (such as the Goddess from The Holy Teaching of Vimalakirti or Krishna from the Bhagavad Gita).
4. Fingarette, Confucius-The Secular as Sacred
Describe what Fingarette means by each of the following in describing Confucius's philosophy: Human Community as Holy Rite, Way without a Crossroads, A Confucian Metaphor-The Holy Vessel. Illustrate each of your points using direct quotations from Confucius' Analects as cited in Fingarette's book.
5. Influence on View of Religion
Describe how two of the readings we have done thus far have changed or influenced your view of religion. At least one of those sources must be from Week 3 onwards. BE SURE TO INCLUDE PAGE REFERENCES FROM THE READINGS.