Teaching Buddhism

New Insights on Understanding and Presenting the Traditions

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Todd Lewis, Gary deAngelis
AAR Teaching Religious Studies
  • New York, NY: 
    Oxford University Press
    , October
     432 pages.
     For other formats: Link to Publisher's Website.
Review coming soon!

Review by Keely Sutton forthcoming.


Buddhist studies is a rapidly changing field of research, constantly transforming and adapting to new scholarship. This creates a problem for instructors, both in a university setting and in monastic schools, as they try to develop a curriculum based on a body of scholarship that continually shifts in focus and expands to new areas. 

Teaching Buddhism establishes a dialogue between the community of instructors of Buddhism and leading scholars in the field who are updating, revising, and correcting earlier understandings of Buddhist traditions. Each chapter presents new ideas within a particular theme of Buddhist studies and explores how courses can be enhanced with these insights. Contributors in the first section focus on the typical approaches, figures, and traditions in undergraduate courses, such as the role of philosophy in Buddhism, Nagarjuna, Yogacara Buddhism, tantric traditions, and Zen Buddhism. They describe the impact of recent developments-like new studies in the cognitive sciences-on scholarship in those areas. Part Two examines how political engagement and ritual practice have shaped the tradition throughout its history. Focus then shifts to the issues facing instructors of Buddhism-dilemmas for the scholar-practitioner in the academic and monastic classroom, the tradition's possible roles in teaching feminism and diversity, and how to present the tradition in the context of a world religions course. In the final section, contributors offer stories of their own experiences teaching, paying particular attention to the ways in which American culture has impacted them. They discuss the development of courses on American Buddhism; using course material on the family and children; the history and trajectory of a Buddhist-Christian dialog; and Buddhist bioethics, environmentalism, economic development, and social justice. In synthesizing this vast and varied body of research, the contributors in this volume have provided an invaluable service to the field.

About the Author(s)/Editor(s)/Translator(s): 

Todd T. Lewis is the Murray Distinguished Professor of Arts and Humanities in the Religious Studies Department at The College of the Holy Cross, where he has taught since 1990. Professor Lewis is one of the world's leading authorities on the religions of the central Himalayan region and the social history of Buddhism.

Gary DeAngelis has taught Asian Religions for forty six years at Boston University, Brandeis University, Clark University and for the last twenty nine years at Holy Cross College, also serving as the Associate Director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Studies at Holy Cross. His primary areas of teaching and scholarship have been Chinese and Japanese religions with a particular emphasis on scared space, pilgrimage, and ritual.


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