Buddhist Enlightenment: Visions, Words and Practice





Ryuichi Abe (Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations)
Freshman Seminar 62Z     4 credits (fall term)     Enrollment:  Limited to 12

Note: There will be two required visits to the Harvard Art Museums related to the final student project.

How do you get enlightened?  Is the Buddha a god or human? How many Buddhas are there in the world? How many celebrated enlightened women do we find in Buddhism? How do you know if someone is enlightened? And why does Enlightenment matter? These are basic questions that even most recondite books of Buddhism often fail to answer. This seminar looks at famous visual images of Buddhist enlightenment—not only iconographies of Buddhist divinities, but also architecture, gardens, ritual instruments, and maps of the world—and using them as our gateways, studies narratives, parables, metaphors, and theories that explain what enlightenment is, how to attain enlightenment, and how to retain it in one’s everyday life. The seminar encourages students to apply their understanding of Buddhist enlightenment as a way to better appreciate their own religious traditions and/or spiritual identities for the sake of enriching their inner selves as well as their social interactions.

See also: Fall 2022