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Buddhism and Medicine – Buddhist Studies Summer Course 2024

July 10 - July 28

July 10th-28th, 2024, Wednesday to Sunday

Course Description:

Explore the intersection of Buddhism and medicine in this course which traces ancient practices to their modern applications. From the historical ties between Buddhism and healing, to their relevance in today’s medical contexts, discover the evolution and adaptation of Buddhist approaches to healthcare, and how they can support your wellbeing. Topics include traditional healing methods, responses to global health crises like COVID-19, and the relationship between Buddhist medicine and contemporary biomedicine. Through readings, discussions, and presentations learn about the socio-historical contexts and ongoing debates in this field in an engaging and participatory manner. No prior knowledge of Buddhism or medicine is required.

Faculty: Prof. Asit. Dr. James Gentry, Dr. Ana C. Lopes, Prof. John Dunne
Guest lectures: To be announced

Detailed Course Content:

Historical Context: Beginning with the Buddha’s teachings on suffering and its cessation, the course delves into how Buddhism has been inextricably connected with the theory
and practice of medicine since ancient times. It examines the development of healing approaches within Buddhist traditions, from simple meditations and physical exercises to
complex models of embodiment and pathology, and practices of diagnosis, pharmacology, surgery, and other modes of treatment.

Modern Global Perspectives: Exploring beyond ancient times, the course investigates how Buddhists worldwide continue to adapt traditional resources to address
contemporary health challenges. This includes responses to modern health crises such as cancer, pandemics, pain management, and mental health issues like depression and

Complexity and Relevance: Currently, Buddhist approaches to medicine are often assumed to offer traditional alternatives to contemporary biomedicine. But studying
these approaches reveals a more complex picture, as globalized Buddhist healers adapt and respond to biomedical and other dominant healthcare systems, shifting traditions in
new directions or creating brand new modalities of healing.

Key Topics: This course will cover various critical topics including the roles of medicine in different Buddhist traditions (Nikāya, Mahāyāna, Tantra); sex, gender, and the body in
Buddhist medicine; Buddhist medical approaches to the mind-body relationship; colonialism and the modernization of Buddhist medicine; the compatibility of Buddhist
medicine and contemporary biomedicine; meditation, mental health, and the “mindful revolution;” and Buddhist responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Approach and Learning: Throughout the course, you will engage with traditional and contemporary Buddhist literature, religious studies analysis, ethnographic case studies,
and guided field trips to local Buddhist healing centers. The course emphasizes discussions, reflections on readings, group presentations, and a final project where
students will investigate a specific aspect of Buddhism and medicine. A key aspect of the course is to create an opportunity to foster discussions on power
dynamics inherent in different systems of knowledge, historical challenges in the interaction between Buddhism and biomedicine, and the implications of these
interactions for contemporary society.

Outcome: By the end of the course, students will gain a critical understanding of the roles of medicine in Buddhist traditions, analyze interactions between Buddhism and
biomedicine, and apply research methods from religious studies, anthropology, and history to explore this nexus. Examples of questions that will be explored include:
● How did ancient Buddhist practices like mindfulness come to be promoted today as essential for our mental and physical wellbeing?
● Are Buddhist approaches to healing largely compatible with contemporary biomedicine, or do they present important alternatives that can enrich our understanding of healthcare and the mind-body complex?
● If Buddhist practices can indeed heal and keep us healthy, how do they claim to heal, and from what?

Required reading “A Global History of Buddhism & Medicine” Pierce Salguero. A Global
History of Buddhism & Medicine (New York: Columbia University Press, 2022).

Morning Classes from Wednesday to Sunday

Estimated times:
7:00 to 8:00 Morning Meditation
9:30 to 10:30 Khenpo class
11 to 12:30 Professors class
Afternoons: Time for reading, reflection, Meditation, and embodied practices

Student Learning Outcomes:
Upon successfully completing this course, students will be able to:

● demonstrate a critical understanding of the various roles of medicine and healing in Buddhist traditions within their diverse socio-historical contexts
● recognize the frameworks for thought and action implicit in different systems of knowledge and analyze their modes of interaction with sensitivity to the power dynamics (social, political, economic, racial, gendered, and cultural) that inform them
● assess the challenges that have surfaced historically and in the present in interactions between Buddhism and biomedicine and their worldviews, and how new social and political contexts have exacerbated, reduced, or complicated these challenges
● apply the methods of research and inquiry from religious studies, anthropology, and history to examine key topics in the study of Buddhism and medicine
● critically evaluate primary and secondary source materials about Buddhism and medicine and combine these with ethnographic fieldwork to understand and explain the nexus of Buddhism and medicine socially and historically

Study-Reflect- Meditate
The Buddhist Studies summer course offers a rich and diverse curriculum encompassing three core aspects: meditation practices, doctrinal
studies led by a Khenpo, and contemporary Buddhist studies classes.

Meditation Practice: Emphasizing the experiential aspect of Buddhism, the course integrates daily meditation sessions. These sessions cover various techniques, including
mindfulness, breath awareness, and analytical meditation. Through guided practices, students learn to cultivate mindfulness, compassion, and clarity of mind—a foundational
aspect of Buddhist practice.

Doctrinal Studies with a Khenpo: Students engage in in-depth explorations of classical Buddhist philosophy and teachings guided by a Khenpo. These sessions delve into core
texts, fundamental principles, and philosophical underpinnings of Buddhism. The Khenpos’s expertise and guidance provide a deep understanding of classical Buddhist

Contemporary Buddhist Studies: Complementing traditional teachings, esteemed professors lead classes focused on modern aspects of Buddhism. These sessions cover
contemporary applications of Buddhist principles, and explore how ancient wisdom interacts with and informs present-day issues. Topics may cover mindfulness in
healthcare, the intersection of Buddhism and psychology, responses to societal challenges, and the relevance of Buddhist ethics in the modern world.

Course Structure and Experience: Spanning several weeks, the course balances these three pillars—meditation, doctrinal studies, and modern classes—creating a
comprehensive and multifaceted learning experience. The serene environment at Gomde Germany-Austria fosters a conducive atmosphere for both theoretical learning and
practical application.

Student Learning and Growth: Participants not only gain a deep understanding of classical Buddhist philosophy and meditative practices but also explore the
contemporary relevance of Buddhism in various spheres. The combination of traditional teachings, guided meditation, and modern insights cultivates a holistic approach to
Buddhist studies, encouraging personal growth and self-reflection.

Key Takeaways: By the conclusion of the course, students develop a multifaceted understanding of Buddhism—spanning from traditional doctrinal teachings and
meditation practices to the application of Buddhist principles in contemporary contexts. This holistic approach equips students with insights into both ancient wisdom and its
relevance in addressing modern challenges.

Your contribution- Suggested donation

We want to enable all interested parties to participate in our seminars. Therefore, we provide a suggested donation value to cover our fixed costs. If you are financially able to do so, we kindly ask you to contribute this amount to allow others with fewer resources to participate. If you are unable to pay this amount, please contact us in advance at nanda@gomde.eu.
  • For people under 26 with financial difficulties:
    • Accommodation in a multi-bed room for a suggested donation value of 30 euros per day
    • Total price for three weeks: 600 euros
    • Required: Daily assistance of two hours
  • Participants with average financial means:
    • Single room for a suggested donation value of 80 euros per day
    • Total price for three weeks: 1600 euros
  • Special price for supporters:
    • 100 euros per day as a suggested donation value
    • Total price for three weeks: 2100 euros

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