Self Cultivation (496)

"Self-cultivation" refers to a variety of practices that aim to correctly situate the individual within the cosmic environment. It is not a religion, an ethical system, or a health regimen, though it draws upon all of these. It has no leaders, only practitioners. Self-cultivation is an enduring theme in global religious history, drawing upon abstract ideas of the self and whatever one conceives as ultimate, and formulating methods for connecting the former to the latter. In this course we will analyze some of the most common ideas (e.g., theology, theodicy, authority) and practices (e.g., scripture reading, home life, temple conduct) that characterize self cultivation and the ideal life from a variety of global ideologies.

  1. Anthropology I: Body: spirit v. matter
  2. Anthropology II: Mind: independent v. dependent
  3. Anthropology III: Heart: passion v. dispassion
  4. Theology: theology v. atheology
  5. Theodicy: good v. evil
  6. Mysticism: whole v. part
  7. Grace: faith v. works
  8. Authority: saint v. sage
  9. Reading: literal v. metaphor
  10. Practice: monk v. layman
  11. Ethics: self v. other
  12. Art: temples v. gardens
  13. Soteriology: now v. then

syllabus TBD back to course list