Open Buddha

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

Class for Fall 2008 at IBS

I stopped by the Institute of Buddhist Studies during lunch today (it is only about a mile and a half from my house). I went in to register for another class. As people may recall, I took a graduate level class there on Esoteric Buddhism, focusing heavily on Japan, this last Spring. I am not currently enrolled in a degree program there but I am looking at being in one in a year so it is good to get some of the classes out of the way that I might otherwise take then (and I might even learn something!). It isn’t cheap though, that’s for sure. I definitely have to look on it as investing in my future as classes cost a lot.

For this Fall, I had been thinking of taking a reading class for Japanese but the rigors of doing this while working, especially since it is an in-person class twice a week, made this a difficult prospect. Add to this the fact that R and I are going to Egypt in October for a couple of weeks and it just didn’t seem like a good idea.

Instead, I signed up for another online course. The description from the catalog is:

Tibetan Understandings of Tantra HRHS 3014 Course Level: Intermediate Instructor: Harrington Tibet received a wealth of tantric materials from India, and in turn Tibetan thinkers and practitioners further developed tantra as a religious system. This course will explore this systematization of Buddhist tantra in Tibet, through readings in English translation of key works by Tsongkhapa and Kongtrul. The readings will first be placed in context with an overview of the history of Tibetan Buddhism. As an online course, students will be expected to maintain a detailed reading log of their thoughts, reflections, and questions about each week's readings, to be shared with other class members, and to participate in a discussion of these reflections. A summary reflection paper of approx. 20+ pp. will be required at the end of the semester. Participation/Term paper.

This looks to be fairly interesting. I have a background in Tibetan Vajrayana over the last six years but, as with many things, randomly reading things and studying for practice purposes often leaves holes in knowledge. I haven’t read much Tsongkhapa since my practice was mostly Nyingma derived (and occasionally Kagyu) and he’s the father of the Gelugpa sect, which has very different interpretations of Tantra from the first two. Dr. Payne told me good things about Dr. Harrington so I am hoping that the class works out well.