Great World Religions: Islam [TTC Video]
30 October 2016, 15:42
Course No 6102 | AVI, XviD, 528x384 | MP3, 128 kbps, 2 Ch | 12x30 mins | 2.93GB
University professor and international government and media consultant John L. Esposito guides you through the facts and myths surrounding Islam and its more than 1.2 billion adherents. How familiar are you with the world's second largest and fastest-growing religion? Many in the West know little about the faith and are familiar only with the actions of a minority of radical extremists.
This course will help you better understand Islam's role as both a religion and a way of life, and its deep impact on world affairs both historically and today. It is important to understand what Muslims believe, and also how their beliefs are carried out privately and publicly as individuals as well as members of a larger community.
Learning about Islam: What Does the Future Hold?
What does the future hold for Islam and the West in the new century? How will it change under the influence of conservatives, reformers, and extremists?
"The focus of this course will be to better understand Islam's role as a religion and as a way of life," says Professor Esposito. "In 12 lectures, moving from Muhammad to the present, from the 7th to the 21st centuries, we will explore Muslim beliefs, practices, and history in the context of its significance and impact on Muslim life and society through the ages, as well as world events today."
You will learn about:
- Muslim beliefs about other faiths
- Whether the Quran condones terrorism and what it says about God
- The contributions to mathematics, science, and art made by a flourishing Islamic civilization
- The role of women in Islam
- Whether Islam is compatible with modernization, capitalism, and democracy.
Like Judaism and Christianity, Islam is one of the great monotheistic faiths that traces its ancestry to Abraham. Professor Esposito discusses the similarities and differences in the three great Abrahamic faiths and explores more closely the core beliefs that serve as the common denominators that unite all Muslims throughout the world.
"We will see that Islam is not monolithic," says Professor Esposito. "Although Muslims share certain core beliefs, the practices, interpretations, images, and realities of Islam vary across time and space."
The Stunning Growth of the Muslim Community and Its Golden Age
Within 100 years of Muhammad's death, the Muslim community became a vast, dynamic, and creative Islamic empire that stretched from North Africa to India.
Islamic civilization flourished under the Umayyad and Abbasid empires. Under Abbasid rule (750–1258 C.E.), the Islamic community became an empire of wealth, political power, and cultural accomplishments.
Muslims made original creative contributions in law, theology, philosophy, literature, medicine, algebra, geometry, science, art, and architecture.
Arabic became the language of literature and public discourse. Centers were created for the translation of manuscripts from Sanskrit, Greek, Latin, Syriac, Coptic, and Persian into Arabic.
Europeans, emerging from the Dark Ages, turned to Muslim centers of learning to regain their lost heritage and to learn from Muslim advances. Through Islamic philosophy, Greek philosophy was retransmitted to Europe.
Examining the history of Islamic civilization helps us appreciate the remarkable achievements of its Golden Age and to understand the sources of sectarianism, religious extremism, and the conflict between Islam and Christianity, epitomized by the Crusades.
Understand the Development of Islamic Law
Professor Esposito takes a closer look at the historical development of two great Islamic institutions: Islamic law, (the Shariah) and Islamic mysticism (Sufism).
Islamic law has been seen as the ideal blueprint guiding Muslims' correct action, that is, what to do in their public and private lives in order to realize God's will.
Sufism resulted from efforts to experience a more direct and personal sense of God. Both law, the exterior path to God, and mysticism, the interior path, developed as responses to what was perceived as the abuse of the enormous wealth and power in Islamic empires.
The historical tradition of Islamic renewal and reform was developed to fight internal disintegration and upheaval in the Muslim world caused by outside forces from the 17th to the 20th centuries.
Professor Esposito examines the variety of religious sociopolitical movements that struggled to address weakness and decline in diverse Muslim societies through the ages, and discusses how and why these efforts continue to inspire Islamic modernists and contemporary movements in our time.
Discuss the "Struggle for the Soul of Islam"
The lectures examine the worldwide "struggle for the soul of Islam" occurring today between conservatives and reformers, mainstream Muslims and extremists. Among these issues, few are more fraught with controversy than the debates about women and Islam.
Professor Esposito discusses women and their changing roles. Issues include diversity of dress, social status, education, and roles for women in the family throughout the world.
Professor Esposito expands this human dimension to spotlight the ever-increasing reality of Muslims as our neighbors and colleagues in Europe and America, examining how and why Muslims came to Europe and America, and the issues of faith and identity, integration and assimilation, that face them in their new homelands and how they are grappling with these challenges.
Harold McFarland, editor of Midwest Book Review, writes about this course: "This is easily the most accurate, even-handed, and thorough survey of Islam that I have seen to date. The extent of coverage, breadth, and depth of Professor Esposito's knowledge, recognition of the various groups and beliefs within Islam, and scholarly treatment of the subject makes this a very highly recommended lecture series and the only one on the subject that I could recommend to date."
Great World Religions: Hinduism [TTC Video]
30 October 2016, 15:30
Course No 6104 | AVI, XviD, 528x384 | MP3, 128 kbps, 2 Ch | 12x30 mins | 2.95GB
Terms we associate with Hinduism—"Hinduism," "religion," and "India"—are all Western labels, terms that for most of history did not accurately reflect the thinking of those who practice this ancient faith. In fact, one of the primary themes of Professor Mark W. Muesse's lectures is the difficulty of studying Hinduism without imposing Western perceptions on it.
In Hinduism you will find a religion that is perhaps the most diverse of all. It worships more gods and goddesses than any other, and it rejects the notion that there is only one path to the divine.
A Window into All Religions
These lectures provide a window into the roots of, perhaps, all religions. You will explore over the course of Hinduism's 5,000-year journey:
- The Indus Valley civilization
- The sizable variety of Hindu gods and goddess
- The sacred writings in the Vedas, Bhagavad Gita, and Upanishads
- Ritual purity rites
- The Aryan language of Sanskrit, whose roots can be seen in English words such as "divine," "video," and "ignite."
The story of Hinduism is the story of very non-Western traditions—arranged marriages and the caste system—that have survived and thrived for thousands of years; and of a wealth of gods, terms, and practices—karma, Krishna, yoga, guru—that have found a home in Western lives and language.
The course also explains that Hinduism rejects the notion that there is only one path to the divine, and at its best, it honors all seekers of truth.
Understand the Oldest Religion
Hinduism is the world's oldest living religious tradition, with roots deep in the early cultures of India. These ancient cultures, the most important of which were the Indus Valley civilization and the Aryan society, combined to create a highly diverse family of religions and philosophies.
The series moves chronologically through the history of Hinduism, from its earliest precursors through its classical manifestations to its responses to modernity. Along the way, Dr. Muesse discusses salient aspects of Hindu life and places them in historical and theological context.
The journey begins with an examination of the early cultures that most significantly shaped the development of Hinduism.
- Dr. Muesse makes a brief visit to the indigenous culture of northern India, the Indus Valley civilization, before introducing the migration of the Aryans from Central Asia.
- Hinduism received from the Aryans its most sacred and authoritative scripture, the Veda, which is explored in detail.
- After the Vedic period, classical Hinduism formed many of its basic ideas and practices, including the notions of transmigration of the soul, reincarnation, and karma. Major social arrangements were established in Hindu culture.
- The classic phase strongly influences the present day. Social stratification and gender relations greatly affect the nature of spiritual life for all Hindus. Professor Muesse discusses the caste system, and the different life patterns for men and women.
The Way of Action, ye Way of Wisdom, the Way of Devotion
Hinduism is religiously and philosophically diverse. It affirms the multiplicity of the divine and acknowledges that there are multiple paths to divine reality. Dr. Muesse outlines:
- The Way of Action, the spiritual discipline pursued by most Hindus, aims to improve an individual's future lives through meritorious deeds, according to the Hindu belief in reincarnation. The lectures look at several examples of such action, including ritual, festival, and pilgrimage.
- The Way of Wisdom is a much less-traversed pathway to salvation because it is so demanding and rigorous. Gaining wisdom means to understand the unity of the soul and ultimate reality, and to live one's life accordingly.
- The Way of Devotion, or bhakti, is oriented toward faith in a deity of personal choice. It is a widely chosen road to god among Hindus. Your introduction to bhakti practice comes through one of the most important and beloved Hindu texts, the Bhagavad Gita, a wondrous story of a warrior's dilemma and the counsel of the god Krishna. It has been a treasure trove of spiritual enrichment for Hindus for centuries.
Dr. Muesse also explores the functions of images in Hindu worship and how Hinduism can be both monotheistic and polytheistic. You learn about devotion to the Goddess and her many manifestations in the Hindu pantheon, and investigate some of the theory and practice of Tantra, a yogic discipline associated with the Goddess.
Modern Hinduism faces challenges from Islam and from Western culture. Theological differences between Hinduism and Islam have generated tense relationships between Hindus and Muslims, frequently erupting into outright violence.
Dr. Muesse describes the British Raj and the Indian independence movement led by Gandhi, includes examples of Hindu missions to the West, and discusses the tensions between Hinduism and modernity.
The many paths of Hinduism involve very different conceptions of divine reality, and Dr. Muesse explains how such divergent views coexist within the Hindu tradition.
Great World Religions: Buddhism [TTC Video]
30 October 2016, 15:20
Course No 6105 | AVI, XviD, 528x384 | MP3, 128 kbps, 2 Ch | 12x30 mins | 2.68GB
Buddhism challenges some of the most important Western ideas about God, human life, and the self. In Buddhism there is no single almighty God who created the world. Instead, Buddhism teaches that all of life is suffering, and there is no permanent self. And it teaches that in accepting that all life is bliss can be achieved in this life.
Professor Malcolm David Eckel is winner of Boston University's highest honor, the Metcalf Award for Teaching Excellence. He has spent most of his adult life studying Buddhism in Asia and North America, and shares his insights about this endlessly fascinating faith in this vital series.
"An Excellent Study in the Basics of Buddhism"
Buddhism's core philosophy that nothing is permanent—all is change—has made it an astonishingly lively and adaptable religion. Buddhism has transformed the civilizations of India and much of Asia, and has now become a vital part of Western culture.
According to Professor Eckel, nothing conveys the spirit of Buddhism better than the image of the seated Buddha—stable, focused, and serene in the face of tumultuous change.
In this course you study:
- The Buddhist idea that there is no single almighty God who created the world, that all of life is "suffering" (while not necessarily being pessimistic), and that there is no permanent self
- The life story of the Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama
- The Buddha's teaching, or Dharma
- The development of his Samgha, or community of disciples
- Key Buddhist terms such as nirvana, tantra, mandala, bodhisattva, and Zen
- The lives of contemporary, well-known Buddhists such as the Dalai Lama
- Buddhist responses to some of the fundamental problems of life.
According to Readers Preference Reviews, "Great World Religions: Buddhism is an excellent study in the basics of Buddhism. While it can easily take a lifetime to gain a complete understanding of the nuances of Buddhism, Professor Eckel provides a solid foundation."
Buddhism: A Community that Spans the Globe
These lectures survey Buddhism from its origin in India in the 6th or 5th centuries B.C.E. to the present day. During its 2,500-year history, Buddhism has grown from a tiny religious community in northern India into a movement that now spans the globe.
Buddhism has shaped the development of civilization in India and Southeast Asia; significantly influenced the civilizations of China, Tibet, Korea, and Japan; and has become a major part of the multireligious world in Europe and North America.
"Although Buddhism plays the role of a 'religion' in many cultures, it challenges some of our most basic assumptions about religion," says Dr. Eckel. "Buddhists do not worship a god who created and sustains the world. They revere the memory of a human being, Siddhartha Gautama, who found a way to be free from suffering and bring the cycle of rebirth to an end. For Buddhists, this release from suffering constitutes the ultimate goal of human life."
"The Awakened One"
Born as Siddhartha Gautama in a princely family in northern India about 566 B.C.E., the man who is known as the Buddha, or the Awakened One, left his family's palace and took up the life of an Indian ascetic. After years of difficult struggle, he sat down under a tree and "woke up" to the cause of suffering and to its final cessation.
He then wandered the roads of India, preaching his Dharma, or teaching, gathering a group of disciples and establishing a pattern of discipline that became the foundation of the Buddhist community, or Samgha.
The Buddha helped his disciples analyze the causes of suffering and chart their own path to nirvana. Finally, after a long teaching career, he died and passed gently from the cycle of death and rebirth, or reincarnation, in which Buddhists believe.
The community's attention then shifted from the Buddha himself to the teachings and moral principles embodied in his Dharma. Monks gathered to recite his teaching and produced a canon of Buddhist scripture, while disputes in the early community paved the way for the diversity and complexity of later Buddhist schools.
Theravada, Mahayana, Tantra, and Philosopher Kings
The Buddhist king Asoka, who reigned from about 268 to 239 B.C.E., sent the first Buddhist missionaries to Sri Lanka. From this missionary effort grew the Theravada Buddhism ("tradition of the elders") that now dominates all the Buddhist countries of Southeast Asia with the exception of Vietnam.
Asoka also left behind the Buddhist concept of a righteous king who gives political expression to Buddhist values. This ideal has been embodied in recent times by King Mongkut in Thailand and Aung San Suu Kyi, who won the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize for her nonviolent resistance to military repression in Myanmar.
Two major new movements radically transformed the Indian tradition.
The first was known as the Mahayana, the Great Vehicle. The Mahayana preached the ideal of the bodhisattva who postpones nirvana to help others escape the cycle of rebirth. The second was Tantra or Vajrayana, the Diamond Vehicle. Tantra developed a vivid and emotionally powerful method to achieve liberation in this life.
Buddhism entered Tibet in the 7th century and established itself as a powerful combination of Indian monasticism and Tantric practice. Tibetan Buddhism eventually developed four major schools, including the Geluk School of the Dalai Lama. Today, the 14th Dalai Lama carries Buddhist teaching around the world.
Buddhism in China, Japan, and throughout the World Today
You learn how Buddhism entered China in the 2nd century when many Chinese were disillusioned with traditional Confucian values. To bridge the gap between the cultures of India and China, Buddhist translators borrowed Taoist vocabulary to express Buddhist ideas.
Professor Eckel shows how Buddhism became distinctively Chinese in character: more respectful of duties to the family and the ancestors, more pragmatic and mundane, and more consistent with traditional Chinese respect for harmony with nature. During the T'ang Dynasty (618–907), Buddhism was expressed in a series of brilliant Chinese schools, including the Ch'an School of meditation that came to be known in Japan as Zen. From China, Buddhism spread to Korea, Japan, and Vietnam.
Buddhism entered Japan in the 6th century and was quickly allied with the power of the Japanese state. Buddhist Tantra was given distinctive Japanese expression in the Shingon School, and the Tendai School brought the sophisticated study of Chinese Buddhism to the imperial court.
During the Kamakura period, 1192–1333, Japan suffered wide social and political unrest. Convinced that they were living in a "degenerate age," the brilliant reformers Honen, Shinran, and Nichiren brought a powerful new vision of Buddhism to the masses. In the Kamakura period a series of charismatic Zen masters gave new life to the ancient tradition of Buddhist meditation.
Today, Buddhism reaches most of the world, including Europe, Australia, and the Americas. And, with this course, its history, insights, and perhaps its profound peaceful influence may reach you.