Open Buddha

Open Source Buddhism, Technology, and Geekery
Bay Area, California

Esoteric Buddhism Class

It is time for a sanity check, I suppose. Since I finished my degree in December, I decided to start taking a class at UC, Berkeley Extension for Japanese. I blogged about this just the other day. Because that does not entirely fill my schedule (along with a full time job), I decided that I should sign up to take a class at the Institute of Buddhist Studies as well.

When I had lunch with Dr. Richard Payne a couple of months ago to talk about the possibility of doctoral work at the Graduate Theological Union (of which IBS is a member), he mentioned that he was teaching his class on Esoteric Buddhism online in the next semester. I thought about signing up for it but it is almost $3,000 to take ($2,700) since it is a graduate class at a privately funded institution. Because of this, I took a pass on it and focused on just finishing my degree.

Recently, Dr. Payne sent me more information on the class (under the impression, I believe, that I was going to be taking it). It looked interesting enough but there was still the cost. Through a fortuitous incident, one of the other people on that same e-mail, Jake, knows me online (from the ill mentioned E-sangha), and contacted me the other day to see if I was signed up for the class because he is taking it. I mentioned the cost issue but Jake pointed out that there were audit options that were much cheaper. Since I am not really concerned about receiving academic credit for the class at this time (I may regret this if I do a PhD at GTU later), I went over to IBS during lunch today and signed up for it.

The brief description of the class from the IBS catalog is:

Esoteric Buddhism HR 3101 Course Level: Intermediate

An over view of the rise of tantric Budhism in India, together with its spread throughout the Buddhist world. Covers history, practices, doctrines, texts, and key figures. Format: Seminar. Evaluation: Participation and term paper.

</blockquote> Dr. Payne's syllabus describes it as:
 Tantric Buddhism arose in the early medieval period of Indian Buddhism and spread throughout the Buddhist world. This class will examine its origins, its transmission to Tibet, China, Japan and the West, and some of the ways in which it has been transformed in the process.
The texts for the course are: Fortunately for me, I own all but the last of these (having the Hodge translation instead), which makes the reading list fairly convenient. This is being run as an online seminar class with discussion taking place by means of a web forum so it ought to be fairly interesting and easy to work into my schedule. There will be a 25 page term paper as well (I'll need to think of a topic, I assume...) but that isn't too bad. We start on Monday!