Master of Buddhism Course

This is a blog for the course comments from the Master of Buddhism course through the Universal Life Church Seminary.
The course can be found at Buddhism Course.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


Buddhism Study Course
Final Essay on Buddhism

Buddhism, like most of the great religions of the world, is divided into a number of different traditions. However, most traditions share a common set of fundamental beliefs.

One fundamental belief of Buddhism is often referred to as reincarnation -- the concept that people are reborn after dying. In fact, most individuals go through many cycles of birth, living, death and rebirth. A practicing Buddhist differentiates between the concepts of rebirth and reincarnation. In reincarnation, the individual may recur repeatedly. In rebirth, in a person does not necessarily return to Earth as the same entity ever again. He compares it to a leaf growing on a tree. When the withering leave falls off, a new leaf will eventually replace it. It is similar to the old leaf, but it is not identical to the original leaf.

After many such cycles, if a person releases their attachment to desire and the self, they can attain Nirvana. This is a state of liberation and freedom from suffering. I have found that this program has opened my up to a deeper understanding of Buddhist thought and right living. I have spent many hours meditating and have come up with one conclusion. We must all do our utmost to just see! Once we slay the ego, then true enlightenment and fulfillment will be ours.

Eric Jennings


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Saturday, May 14, 2011

Buddhist Studies

Reflecting on Buddhism
Rev. Katherine MacDowell

While not a practicing Buddhist, the Tricia Stirling's course highlights critical touchstones for any individual interested in living a spiritually resonant life. She creates a course that is a rich blend of both historical and philosophical information coupled with modes of application and real-world examples. Additionally, she ensures that her lessons are tied not only to the scriptural doctrines, but also to contemporary commentary and applications. She also takes time to examine critical issues on women's location within Buddhism and without creating a positional statement presents the controversy of whether the religion in some facets risks misogyny. She also extends the discussion into contemporary hot-bed ethical-based social issues such as capital punishment and abortion and how Buddhism may encounter these issues from its own ethical standpoints. Finally, her course also extends into a discussion of how Buddhism situates the human/non-human relationship and our responsibility to the Earth in a wider framework. All of this contributes to a well-organized and well-written course with ample resources for the novice student to engage in their own deeper exploration.

What then do I come away with from the course beyond a firm grounding in the broad religious philosophical tradition itself? This is a more difficult question to answer as it involves my own personal belief and ethical framework that informs my own life. I personally can say that much of what is elucidated in Buddhism at the broadest level resonates with my own personal spiritual understanding. I personally find that elucidating and consistently contemplating and acting out the four immeasurable of metta (loving kindness), karuna (compassion), mudita (sympathetic joy), and upekkha (equanimity) are central toward living a life. I would go so far as to say these are not nouns describing a way of being, but rather would best be translated as verbs connoting a continuous mode of action. In this fashion, thinking of these "immeasurables" (a term itself that implies they are part of the beginningless of life itself devoid of all boundaries and limitations of measurement and also what can be comprehended by the rational mind, which itself is defined by its capacity to measure—ratio) is about action or doing: to metta or to karuna. It is through the conscious and unconscious engagement of these actions that we ultimately find ourselves walking on the eightfold path or coming into wisdom of the noble truths. It strikes me that through the constant focus toward being-doing these actions that we also free ourselves from the ten fetters such as an unbalanced ego, self-doubt, ill will, materialism, etc. I think focusing on these four actions and ways of being is far more liberating than directly attempting to prohibit behavior or combat negatives. While some might suggest that renunciation is a path toward enlightenment, I tend to argue for empowerment and what we can build into our lives rather than focusing solely on what we ought to let go. Thus the four immeasurables present a unique option toward embodying an ethical and spiritual fulfilling life. If we act in these actions then we do not need to focus on what we should not do, as we will innately be the right individual.

Rev. Katherine MacDowell


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As a long time member of ULC, Rev. Long created the seminary site to help train our ministers. We also have a huge catalog of Universal Life Church materials.  I've been ordained with the Universal Life Church for many years and it's Seminary since the beginning and have loved watching the continual growth of the seminary.

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