Units of Study

BDST2612 - Buddhist Meditation Practices

Semester 1, 2014  |  Credit Points: 6

Coordinator: Chiew Hui Ho
Phone: +61 2 9351 3083
Email: chiewhui.ho@sydney.edu.au


This unit critically examines the place of meditative practices within Asian and Western Buddhist traditions, introducing students to the social, cultural and historical contexts in which these practices emerged and developed, as well as their theoretical and doctrinal underpinnings. Issues explored include the notion of 'pure experience' and its relation to conceptuality and language, the role of ethics, and the relation between meditative practice and philosophical analysis. Methodological issues in the academic study of meditative experience will also be introduced.


1x2000wd essay (30%), 1x1000wd tutorial written paper (20%), 1xtutorial presentation (15%), 1x1500wd exam (25%), tutorial participation (10%)


1x2-hr lecture/week, 1x1-hr tutorial/week


12 junior credit points from BDST, ANTH, ASNS, BBCL, GCST, RLST, PHIL1011, PHIL1013 and SCLG




  10am 11am 12pm 1pm 2pm 3pm 4pm 5pm






  10am 11am 12pm 1pm 2pm 3pm 4pm 5pm





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Additional Buddhist Studies units

In addition to the units of study listed above, the following units may be offered in future years.

BDST2613 - Zen and Chan Buddhism
This unit explores the thought and practice of Zen (Japanese) and Chan (Chinese) Buddhism. In the first part of the unit we examine the formation of Chan Buddhism in China. In the second half we focus on two major figures in the history of Japanese Zen (Dogen and Hakuin). We then turn to key transitions in the 20th century.

Asian Studies units with Buddhist content

These units maybe be included towards a Buddhist Studies major.

ASNS2613 Chinese Thought
This unit offers students the opportunity to explore China's major traditions of philosophy and practice through English translations of key texts as well as authoritative secondary studies. The main foci of the unit include the following major areas: diversity and polemics in early Chinese thought, developments in Daoism, Buddhist thought and influence, and Neo-Confucian (Daoxue) thought.

ASNS2623 India: Tradition into Modernity
This unit explores assumptions underpinning Indian thought and culture with specific reference to Indian religious traditions. In particular, traditional notions of the individual, authenticity, and the concept of dharma will be addressed through an exploration of social and political structures, gender and the family, and forms of artistic, literary and religious expression. A key focus will be on the continuity of tradition and its interaction with modernity and the implications this has for understanding today’s India.

ASNS2625 Buddhism in Modern Asia
This unit explores the diversity and continued dynamism of Buddhism in modern Asia. The focus of the unit is social, cultural and political with an emphasis on the way Buddhism is influencing Asian societies and is, in turn, influenced by them. Buddhism's encounter with modernity and its role in the nation state, in lay and environmental movements and its influence on social and political discourses and practices will be examined.

ASNS2626 Religious Traditions of South Asia
This unit introduces themes in South Asian religions from the Indus Valley civilization onward. Attention is paid to the social and cultural contexts in which Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism emerged. Goddess traditions are discussed, as are concepts such as tantra, yoga and meditation, karma, rebirth and dharma. Texts such as the Bhagavat Gita and the Upanishads are also introduced. A focus will be on the implications of Classical India for an understanding of contemporary Asia, particularly South and Southeast Asia.

ASNS2627 India, China, Tibet: Cultural Relations
While India and China emerge as present-day superpowers, their historical inter-relations are not well-known. This unit provides an overview of cultural interactions between Indian and Chinese civilizations, especially as these have shaped Tibetan cultural identity. A key focus is upon how pre-modern cultural interactions with India and China provide ideological contexts within which Tibetan religious and cultural traditions and political institutions developed. This is undertaken in order to understand interactions between all three cultures on the current global stage.

ASNS2620 Classical Indian Philosophy
After a brief introduction to Indian religious thought the unit concentrates on the main currents in Classical Indian Philosophy and the schools which flourished between the third and twelfth century C.E. The focus of this unit will be on the ‘orthodox’ Hindu schools but extensive reference will be made to competing Buddhist and Jain ideas, particularly Buddhist Abhidhamma theory. Arguments concerning the nature of consciousness and the ontological status of the physical world, logic and epistemology, and theories of language will be covered.