Contemplative Practice East & West
(Religion 117)

Schedule of Topics & Readings

NOTE: The abbreviations used for course texts may be found under "Required Texts." For most of the schedule classes are listed in Tuesday/Thursday pairs. You should finish roughly half of the reading by the Tuesday session, though what you read need not be sequentially the first half of the pages assigned.  The rest of the readings must be completed by Thursday’s class. Finally, when readings are listed by chapter, you should read the entire chapter, unless a particular set of pages is indicated in parentheses after the chapter listing --e.g., “chapter 4 (150-75).”

Unit 1: Introduction to Contemplative Practice (~weeks #1-2)

January 21 (Tu): Opening Class

            After first class: review on-line Syllabus, complete "Initial Survey"

            Some web sites of interest: Thomas Keating's Monastery
                                                        Durgananda's Home Page
                                            Gunaratana's Retreat Center   

January 23 & 28 (Th/Tu): Basic Elements of Contemplative Practice             

            Read Keating, Durgananda, or Gunaratana

            !!! Meeting in Memorial Hall, Room 313 !!!

January 30(Th):

            Finish Keating, Durgananda, or Gunaratana
            from any Christian Bible: 2 Cor 12.1-10; Romans 8; Matt 6.1-23;
            Mark 11.12-33, 12.18-34; Luke 11.1-13, 18.1-30; and John 1.1-18, 17
            [If you don't have a bible, click here for: Penrose Library Copies
                                                                            An Online Bible]
            Jeremias, "Daily Prayer in the Life of Jesus," 66-81  (

Unit 1: Christian Traditions (~weeks #3-8)

***(Group A Journals due Monday, February 3rd, 17th & March 3rd by 4 pm)***
***(Group B Journals due Monday, February 10th, 24th, & March 10th by 4 pm)***

***(Unit 1 Written Reflection may be turned in Friday, February 7th, 14th, 21st, 28th or March 7 th)***

February 4 & 6
: The New Testament, Early Christian Prayer, & Desert Spirituality

            Merton, "Wisdom of the Desert (excerpts)" (*R*)/(*eR*)
            Graham, “God’s Word in the Desert” (*R*)/(*eR*)
            St. Benedict, "Benedict's Rule (excerpts)" (*R*)/(*eR*)
            PDCW, 145-91, 280-88 (The Celestial Heirarchy, Letter 9)

February 11 & 13: Christian Monasticism, Liturgy and a Neo-Platonic Theology of Prayer

            PDCW, 195-259, 269-80 (The Ecclesiastical Heirarchy, Letter 8)

February 18 & 20: Mystical Theology Through the Middle Ages

            PDCW, 49-84, 119-31, 135-41, 263-69 (Divine Names--excerpts)
            PDCW, 135-41, 263-69 (Mystical Theology, & Letters 1-7)
            "The Cloud of Unknowing (excerpt)" (*R*)/(*eR*)
            Ignatius of Loyola, "Spiritual Exercises (excerpt)" (*R*)/(*eR*)

February 25 & 27: Contemplative Prayer & the Catholic Reformation

            TAIC, 33-107 (First - Fifth Dwelling Places)

March 4: Teresa (cont'd) & Retreat Preparation (no class March 6th)

            TAIC, 108-71 (Sixth Dwelling Place)

**5 pm Friday, March 7th - 1 pm Sunday, March 9th**
                    Centering Prayer Retreat
            Johnston Wilderness Retreat Center

March 11 & 13: Nature, Silence, & Protestant Contemplatives

            TAIC, 172-94 (Seventh Dwelling Place)
            Whitson, "Quaker Spirituality (excerpt)"
            Steere, The Shakers, preface & 1-14
            Thoreau, "Solitude"
           UP, xxii-lvi (Introduction)


[March 18-27: Spring Break]

Unit 2: Hindu & Buddhist Traditions (weeks #9-14)

***(Group A Journals due Monday, March 31st, April 14 & 28th by 4 pm)***
***(Group B Journals due Monday, April 7th, 21st, & May 5th by 4 pm)***

***(Unit 2 Written Reflection may be turned in Friday, April 4, 11, 18, 25th or May 2nd by 4 pm)***

April 1 & 3: Vedic Ritual & its Contemplative Dimension

            "The Agnihotra (excerpt)" (*R*)/(*eR*)
            UP, 7-79, 179-93 (Brhadaaranyaka & Taittireeya Upanishads)

!!! Undergraduate Conference-Tuesday, April 8th !!!

April 10: Contemplative Focus in Emerging Hindu Monotheisms

            UP, 148-56, 202-6, 215-20, 223-25, 232-40, (Chaandogya, Kaushitakee, & Kathaa Upanishads)
            UP, 253-65, 268-77 (Mundaka, & Shvetaashvatara Upanishads)

April 15 & 17: Later Evolutions of Hindu Contemplative Practice

            Bhagavad Geeta (excerpt) (*R*)/(*eR*)
"Yoga Sutras (excerpt)" (*R*)/(*eR*)
"Upanishad Commentaries"
            " Heart of Recognition (excerpt)" (*R*) (*R*)/(*eR*)
            WTA, 1-37 (Introduction & I. A)

April 22 & 24: The Contemplative Faculties in Buddhist Practice

            WTA, 37-123, 188-204 (I. B - II. C)

April 29: Catch-up & Retreat Preparations (no class May 1st)

            WTA, 205-262 (III. A - F)

**5 pm Friday, May 2nd - 1 pm Sunday, May 4th**
              Mindfulness & Insight Retreat
           Johnston Wilderness Retreat Center

May 6 & 8: Thai, Tibetan, & Zen Variations in Contemplative Practice

            WTA, 262-88, 292-99, 311-23, 337-41
            Kapstein, "Prayer of the Original Buddha" (*R*)/(*eR*)
            Bielfeldt, "Discussion of Seated Zen" (*R*)/(*eR*)
            Swearer, "The Way to Meditation" (

***(Final Written Reflection due Wednesday, May 14th)***

Concluding Reflections (week #15 & final exam period)

May 13th: West meets East--a Christian-Hindu Monk

May 17th at 9 am: Concluding Conversation


Overview & Objectives

Attendance Policy

Required Texts

Schedule of Topics & Readings (TOP)

Writing Exercises & Reading Notes

Notes on Written Work