Summer 2017

Coming Summer 2017 - Service-Learning in India!

RLGN 3318 Religions and Globalization (3 units)
Instructor: Emily Wu | GEO Application Info

June 15-July 15, 2017 (4 weeks; dates may change slightly)

“What is the purpose of religion? Does it divide more than it unites?  Can it be the ultimate cure-all, or is it only a placating balm? What is religion’s role in providing interpretations for experiences, sense of belonging, and source of morality and justice?”  In this summer abroad program, we will contextualize the discussions of the above questions in the larger, general global context, and the context of Menri Monastery as a Tibetan exile community in globalized, pluralistic India.  Theoretical discussions will be grounded and substantiated with service-learning, participant observation, experiential immersion, and active dialogues in the Bönpo community. 

SL Students in IndiaStudents who took this course in Summer 2015 had the very precious opportunity to meet and have a conversation with His Holiness the 33rd Menri Trizin Rinpoche. His Holiness is currently the highest religious leader of the Bon tradition. Location: Dolanji, Himachal Pradesh Province, India As “world citizens” today we face the challenges, fragmentation, conflicts, and ethical complexities affiliated with globalization. In the face of these tensions, the world’s great religious traditions continue to offer salvific answers to the grand questions of meaning, but as simple human beings caught in the struggles of modern life, we may find ourselves asking other questions: “What is the purpose of religion? Does it divide more than it unites? Can it be the ultimate cure-all, or is it only a placating balm? What is religion’s role in providing interpretations for experiences, sense of belonging, and source of morality and justice?”

 

SL Students in IndiaOVERVIEW The Bön tradition was indigenous in Tibet and predated Buddhism. Throughout Tibetan history, political leaders alternated their alliances between the Buddhist and Bönpo religious leaders, in turn created a relationship of competition and confluences between the two traditions. Today, as the Dalai Lama serves as the religious leader of Tibetan Buddhist lineages, as the political leader of Tibetan community in exile, he also recognizes and supports the Bon community as one of the Tibetan religious lineages, and an integral part of Tibetan cultural heritage. The Menri Monastery in India is one of the few monastic bonpo communities around the world, and the only one with a dialetic school that offers a geshe (doctoral level) degree in Bönpo philosophical tradition. This is also where the highest bönpo religious leader, His Holiness Tenzin Namdak Rinpoché, teaches, leads, and resides.

SL Students in India

The monastic community is supported by about 400 households of lay Bönpos in a nearby village. The monastery medical center not only serve the Bönpo monastic and lay people, but also the surrounded Hindu community. They also have a school system that provides comprehensive education for the children in the community. A Children’s Center serves as a boarding school-type arrangement for children who are sent to Menri by their Bönpo refugee parents, often from other parts of Indian and Nepal, and occasionally from as far as Western China and Mongolia.