There are three options for this homework assignment. Please answer one the following four questions.
1. Consider the Noble Eightfold Path. First, list and explain each element briefly. More importantly, what do you think? Do you think these are valuable insights into a spiritual life? An article we read earlier this semester asserted that a popular notion among American young adults is that “religion is easy.” This doesn’t sound so easy, does it? We’re familiar with the idea that we must have discipline and work hard to achieve all sorts of worthwhile things (academic success, fitness, learning a musical instrument). Does it make sense that spiritual progress would be the same, that it would require discipline such as that found in the Noble Eightfold Path? Which parts of the Noble Eightfold Path sound most challenging?
2. What do you think of the Buddhist Four Noble Truths? Explain why they do or don’t accurately describe something important about our human situation. What difference would it make in a person’s life to take these “truths” to heart? Would it result in a psychologically healthy, and morally admirable, life?
3. You have an article from Tricyle Magazine entitled “Why ‘Secular’? Isn’t Buddhism a Religion?” It is (briefly) explaining a movement called “Secular Buddhism.” Why, according to the article, does it make sense to speak of “Secular Buddhism?” On the other hand, the thesis of Dharmavidya David Brazier’s article is that “Buddhism is a religion.” Why does Brazier think “it needs saying?” What evidence does he offer to show that it is a religion?
4. Zainab Salbi’s article, “The Bhikkunis: Exploring the History . . .,” tells us that: “The Bhikkunis refuse to let Yasodhara’s story be swept away into the annals of history.
“Who was Yasodhara?
Why is her story relevant to these modern women?
Why is it a smart strategy to employ Yasodhara’s story in debating with conservative Buddhists?