Buddhist Philosophy Essay Topics

All essays are to be either 4 to 5 or 8 to 10 pages, typed and double spaced with standard sized font and margins.  Essays should focus on a single idea or issue, clearly stating your position at the beginning and then using evidence and reasoning to support your position.  You are welcome to use your own life experience, current events, historical examples, or examples from fiction.

While there is no perfect form or structure for an argumentative paper, it is often good to state your position clearly, bring evidence together that supports your position, and then consider what objections others might have and why your position stands up to these objections.

You are welcome to use your own life experience, current events, historical examples, or examples from fiction.  You can also cite material we study or from outside the class by stating the Title of the Work in Italics, and the authors name.  You do not need to include a bibliography.

Please attach your essay to an email and send it to ericgerlach@gmail.com by the due date.  I will also accept printed copies by hand or in my box at BCC.  Check the syllabus and schedule for due dates.


For the first 4 to 5 page essay for the class, I want you to consider the philosophical debates from ancient India that pitted Buddhism against many other positions.  According to the Vaisheshika and Nyaya schools, there is absolute truth and universal knowledge.  According to the Jains and Buddhists, there is no absolute truth but only particular perspective.  What do you find yourself agreeing with more, and why?  Are the two exclusive, inclusive, both or neither?


For the second 4 to 5 page essay, I want you to select a Zen koan that you think displays a particular insight or idea of Buddhism, and then reflect on what it means when applied to your own life and/or the current state of the world.


For the final 8 to 10 page paper for the class, I want you to take an idea from the final three lectures and apply it to your life and/or the world, as you did for the second assignment.  What appeals to you or not about the idea, and how or why is it useful?

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