Harvard Has a Free Online Course on Buddhism That You Can Take Right Now

Harvard University offers a free course on Buddhist scriptures.

If you wanted to learn more about Buddhism, but needed an easy and authoritative resource, you are in luck. Harvard University made a great course on the religion available online for free. 


While the “Buddhism Through Its Scriptures” course is no longer interactive and has been archived, all of its rich lecture and supplemental materials are available upon registration. 

The course is taught by Professor Charles Hallisey from Harvard’s Divinity School, who is also the Yehan Numata Senior Lecturer on Buddhist Literatures. His 2015 book highlights poems by first Buddhist women.   

The introductory course is meant for both a complete novice and a more seasoned practitioner as it goes over Buddhist teachings, selected readings and practices. Art and devotional acts are also considered. 

The course is designed to take 4 weeks, asking for 6-10 hours per week of your attention.

Professor Hallisey is interested in presenting the course to people of “diverse backgrounds” in order to “interact constructively around topics that too often divide us”. His philosophy is to not impart the “right” interpretation of Buddhist scriptures but rather to keep and foster an open-mindedness, allowing for different perspectives, which Buddhists themselves often have even on their main documents. 

While there is no one central Buddhist text like the Bible or Koran, there are Buddhist writings like the Pali canon, the writings of the Japanese Zen Master Dogen, or the collection of meditation topics Mumonkan that are explored by Hallisey. 

He further addresses his approach to teaching the course on Buddhism this way in his syllabus:

“When we turn to the Buddhist heritages for help in answering some questions that we bring to the study of Buddhist scriptures, we open ourselves to the possibility of not only learning about Buddhism, but also learning from Buddhism. This openness to learning from Buddhists is not in the sense of saying that a Buddhist interpretation is automatically the “right” interpretation.  Rather, it is to see that Buddhists themselves have thought about many of the same questions that we bring to Buddhist scriptures, and many of the same questions that we have about ourselves, as persons, and about this world in which we find ourselves. “ 

Ready to start your journey into Buddhism? Register here.

Cover photo: Buddhist monks meditate at the yard of Borobudur temple, built between 750 and 842 AD, June 1, 2007 in Magelang, Central Java province, Indonesia.  (Photo by Dimas Ardian/Getty Images)

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

Douglas Rushkoff – It’s not the technology’s fault

It's up to us humans to re-humanize our world. An economy that prioritizes growth and profits over humanity has led to digital platforms that "strip the topsoil" of human behavior, whole industries, and the planet, giving less and less back. And only we can save us.

Think Again Podcasts
  • It's an all-hands-on-deck moment in the arc of civilization.
  • Everyone has a choice: Do you want to try to earn enough money to insulate yourself from the world you're creating— or do you want to make the world a place you don't have to insulate yourself from?
Keep reading Show less

Physicists puzzled by strange numbers that could explain reality

Eight-dimensional octonions may hold the clues to solve fundamental mysteries.

Surprising Science
  • Physicists discover complex numbers called octonions that work in 8 dimensions.
  • The numbers have been found linked to fundamental forces of reality.
  • Understanding octonions can lead to a new model of physics.
Keep reading Show less

Why 'upgrading' humanity is a transhumanist myth

Upload your mind? Here's a reality check on the Singularity.

Videos
  • Though computer engineers claim to know what human consciousness is, many neuroscientists say that we're nowhere close to understanding what it is, or its source.
  • Scientists are currently trying to upload human minds to silicon chips, or re-create consciousness with algorithms, but this may be hubristic because we still know so little about what it means to be human.
  • Is transhumanism a journey forward or an escape from reality?
Keep reading Show less