REL 12
The Mumonkan and Tathagata Zen: An Exploration of Mind Winter 2019

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Class Details

Zen is the sect of Buddhism that stresses experience overall cognitive formulas and principles. Based on the tenet that all beings have what is called Buddha Nature, practice is entered into with the faith than one can have exactly the same experience that the historical Buddha, Shakyamuni, had and can thereby come to know the process that constitutes the nature of all beings and things that comprise the universe. The primary method of practice is the meditative technique known as zazen, and the type of Zen that focuses on the consciousness that develops from diligent zazen practice is known as Tathagata Zen. Through one’s efforts in zazen, one may come to the intuitive experience of the Dharma Activity, the activity that gives birth to all things and into which all things return. Although the Dharma Activity cannot be described fully in words, it is possible to use words that point to it without running afoul of its truth. The Mumonkan (The Gateless Gate) is a classic Zen text containing 48 such pointers or koans. Utilizing this text as a focus of discussion, students will attempt to grasp the teaching contained in these pointers by means of the principles of Tathagata Zen. The practice of zazen will be part of each class, and the course will culminate in a two-day zen retreat. Those taking the course will keep a daily journal of their course-related experiences which will be reviewed by the instructor. They will also write a series of short papers on selected koan from The Mumonkan. The course will meet from 9am–Noon on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Anyone wishing to take this course must submit a paragraph stating their purpose for doing so. Up to ten students will be accepted for this course and all are eligible, including those who have taken a prior Winter Study Zen course taught by this instructor. Adjunct Instructor Bio: Williams ’62.Retired psychiatrist. Zen practitioner for 48 years,17 as a monk.
The Class: Format: mornings
Limit: 10
Grading: pass/fail only
Requirements/Evaluation: journal review; four 2-page papers
Prerequisites: submission of a paragraph stating purpose in taking this course
Enrollment Preferences: paragraph of purpose
Materials/Lab Fee: $121 plus cost of books
Attributes: EXPE Experiential Education Courses

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