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    The history, doctrines, and practices of Chan Buddhism in China and Zen Buddhism in Japan. Zen practices, as meditation and koan, and the encounter with the "West".

    This course is an overview of the advent and development of Zen (Chinese: Chan 禪), a form of Buddhism centered on the practice of meditation. Using both primary and secondary sources, we cover the premodern origins of Buddhist meditation in India, the institutionalisation of Chan in China, and its
    subsequent transnational journey throughout Japan, East Asia and the world. We consider the influence of Zen on the modern mindfulness movement and on widespread secular interest in meditation and wellness.

    Major subthemes include the question of religious experience; history and genealogy; Zen theories of language; Zen modernism and its influence in psychology, neuroscience and medicine. Throughout the course, we highlight the continual processes of translation, change and adaptation that have characterised Zen Buddhism since its beginning.

    About this paper

    Paper title Zen Buddhism
    Subject Religious Studies
    EFTS 0.15
    Points 18 points
    Teaching period Not offered in 2024 (Distance learning)
    Domestic Tuition Fees ( NZD ) $981.75
    International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.
    18 200-level RELS or RELX points
    RELS 216, RELX 216, RELX 316
    Schedule C
    Arts and Music, Theology
    (i) May not be credited together with RELS231 or RELS331 passed in 2008. (ii) Students who have not passed the normal prerequisite may be admitted with approval from the Head of Department.

    Dr Lina Verchery

    Teaching staff

    Dr Lina Verchery

    Paper Structure

    This class covers the following topics:

    • Zen religious experience
    • History and genealogy
    • Zen theories of language
    • Zen modernism and its influence in psychology, neuroscience and medicine

    The assessment at 300-level has four components:

    • Weekly Reflections 20%
    • Essay 1 20%
    • Essay 2 (2,000 words) 25%
    • Exam (three hours) 35%
    Teaching Arrangements

    The Distance Learning offering of this paper is taught remotely.

    Campus: Weekly lectures
    Distance: Online discussion

    A coursebook has been developed for this paper.
    Course outline
    View the sample course outline for RELS 316
    Graduate Attributes Emphasised
    Global perspective, Interdisciplinary perspective, Scholarship, Communication, Critical thinking, Ethics, Research, Self-motivation.
    View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
    Learning Outcomes
    300-level students who successfully complete the paper will be
    • Able to demonstrate knowledge of terminology, key theories and debates that lie behind contemporary literature on Zen Buddhism
    • Able to explore, through critical analysis, the history and development of Zen Buddhism
    • Familiar with theories of and critical approaches to Zen Buddhism
    • Able to develop creative and critical approaches by analysing texts and primary sources
    • Able to present an extended analysis in essay form using appropriate literature on a chosen topic


    Not offered in 2024

    Teaching method
    This paper is taught through Distance Learning
    Learning management system
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