Courses He Has Taught

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- Courses He Has Taught -
(Areas: Philosophy-Religion-Spirituality-Psychology-Methodology)


1. Philosophy of the Human Person
(Philosophical Anthropology in Cross cultural Perspective)

The course is divided into two parts. Part I (“Images of the Human”) examines the concepts of human nature found in the major religions (Buddhism, Hinduism and Christiantiy), philosophies (Marxism, Existentialism and Personalism) and schools of psychology (Psychoanalysis, Behaviorism and Humanistic Psychology). Part II explores the various aspects of the human adventure: consciousness and knowledge; bodiliness; spirituality; emotions; relatedness and love; sexuality; freedom and liberation; historicity and culture; work, play and humor; evil and suffering; death and immortality; transcendence; the search for meaning.
(He has taught this course at the Pontifical Salesian University, Rome, and in different colleges in India.)

2. Philosophy of Religion:
Part I: The Setting: The religious situation of the world today; the sciences that study religion. Part II: God’s Existence: the meaning of the question; the main answers (belief, agnosticism, atheism); proofs for the existence of God; the nature and limitations of the proofs. Part III: God-Talk: Eastern and Western views on God-talk; God and creatures; God’s action and human freedom; the problem of evil; prayer and cult. Part IV: Special Questions: religious experience and mysticism; religion and science; religious pluralism; the positive and negative impact of religion.

3. Psychology of Religion:
Psychology: Main perspectives, methods, fields – The emergence of psychology of religion. William James: Life, works, views on faith, views on religious experience – Sigmund Freud: Life, theories, psychology of religion, further studies on Freud’s model –Carl Gustav Jung: Life, views on religion, other theories based on Jung - Erik H. Erikson: Life, religion in the human life cycle, stages of psycho-social development; studies on Luther and Gandhi - Robert Kohlberg: Stages of moral development; James Fowler: stages of faith development - Alan Watts: Learning from the East - Viktor Frankl: The experiences in the concentration camp, meaning as the central issue of mental health, the role of religion - The American Humanistic Synthesis: Gordon Allport and religious sentiment - Erich Fromm and humanistic faith - Abraham Maslow and the religion of peak experiences - Rollo May: religion as refuge - transpersonal psychology - Sudhir Kakar: study of the Indian psyche, India’s healing traditions, inter-religious conflict in India - Psychological Studies on Special Issues (Meditation, Altruism, Prejudice, Cruelty) – Psychology and Religion: areas of encounter and areas of contrast: healing and spiritual liberation, emotional maturity and holiness, fulfillment and transcendence, autonomy and surrender, self-help and grace, healthy and unhealthy forms of guilt, counseling and spiritual direction, areas of conflict and collaboration.

4. Medieval Western Philosophy, with textual study of Augustine and Aquinas:
I. An introductory course on medieval Western Philosophy, highlighting the types of philosophy/theology that were prevalent, and the contributions of the main thinkers (the early Fathers; Augustine; Anselm; John Scotus Eriugena; Peter Abelard; the impact of Aristotle on the Christian West; the Arab Commentators; the rise of the universities; Albert the Great, Thomas Aquinas, Bonaventure; John Duns Scotus, nominalism); the impact of scholastic and neo-scholastic thinking on later philosophy and theology. II. Study of selected texts of Augustine and Thomas Aquinas.

5. Spirituality: Eastern and Western Paths:
“East” and “West”: images and reality; Western/Christian contributions to spirituality (main persons, trends, movements); the world-wide impact of some Western ideas, and of religious orders; classical Hindu texts (especially the Bhagavad Gita); contemporary gurus and godmen; Mahatma Gandhi; Buddhist insight; the vipassana meditation; spiritual teachers in unlikely settings; assimilating the best in the different traditions.

6. Spirituality Today:
The meaning(s) of spirituality; levels of study; main models of spirituality; the models proposed (Dorr, Rolheiser and others); a balanced model; the role of prayer, spiritual direction, community, asceticism; spirituality and religion; spirituality and theology; spirituality and psychology; spirituality and politics; spirituality and culture; the spirituality of liberation; feminist spirituality; Eastern, especially Indian, spiritualities; the role of popular devotions; spirituality and youth; some contemporary masters; elements of a relevant spirituality for today; questions people ask.

7. History of Christian Spirituality:
The meaning(s) of spirituality; elements; expressions; Biblical sources; the New Testament community; the age of the martyrs; the Desert Fathers and Mothers; the Fathers of the Church (Greek and Latin); St. Benedict and monasticism; the Mendicant Orders; other movements; Meister Eckhart; Luther, Zwingli and Calvin; Ignatius of Loyola; Teresa of Avila; John of the Cross; The Imitation of Christ, The Cloud of Unknowing; The Practice of the Presence of God; Hesychasm; Francis de Sales; Thomas More; Therese of Lisieux; the main currents and representatives of the twentieth century.

8. Contemporary Saints and Sages:
Contemporary men and women who have blazed trails in spirituality through their (a) writings (Karl Rahner, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Jiddu Krishnamurti, Thomas Merton, Anthony De Mello, Henri Nouwen, Raimon Panikkar, Rabindranath Tagore, Gustavo Gutierrez); (b) witness in public life (Mahatma Gandhi, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Pope John XXIII, Paolo Freire, Martin Luther King, Jr., Nelson Mandela, Oscar Romero and other martyrs, Helder Camara, Dorothy Day, Medha Patkar); (c) message of hope from the midst of despair (Etty Hillesum, Maximilian Kolbe, Takashi Nagai, Martin Niemoller, Corrie Ten Boom, Anne Frank, Viktor Frankl); (d) service of the weakest (Mother Teresa, Jean Vanier, Charles de Foucauld); (e) pioneering initiatives (The Taize’ Community, The San Egidio Community, the Divine Retreat Center at Potta, S. India).

9. Stories to live by (Spirituality through stories):
In most cultures and religions, stories are used to illustrate the deepest truths. This course uses stories from different religions, cultures and epochs to understand and illumine the human journey. The stories are organized around the following themes: (1) Love and forgiveness; (2) life and death; (3) happiness and suffering; (4) wisdom and humor; (5) balance; (6) God and us. Students are encouraged to present their favorite stories and to look at their own personal story. We also look at the role stories play and the underlying cultural and religious assumptions of some stories.

10. Classical Indian Thought:
An introductory course on India’s ancient religious texts (the Vedas, Brahmanas, , Aranykas, Upanishads, the Puranas, the Mahabharata and Ramayana, the Bhagavad Gita) and the main schools of philosophy (Nyaya, Vaisesika, Samkya, Yoga, Mimamsa, Vedanta); the main schools of Vedanta philosophy (advaita, dvaita, visishtadvaita).

11. Contemporary Indian Philosophy:
The Hindu reform movements (Raja Ram Moham Roy and others); Ramakrishna and Swami Vivekananda; Lokamanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak; Mahatma Gandhi; Acharya Vinobha Bhave; Babasaheb Ambedkar; Sri Narayana Guru; Jawaharlal Nehru; Rabindranath Tagore; Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan; Ramana Maharshi; Aurobindo Ghosh; Contemporary Gurus and Godmen; Jiddu Krishnamurti.

12. India: An Introduction (a course for overseas students):
An introduction to India’s history, languages, religions, ethnic diversity, political make-up, economy, art and architecture, achievements and failures; the Christian presence in India; the contemporary scene; answers to frequently asked questions.
(Lectures to American students visiting India.)

13. Developmental Psychology:
An undergraduate course on the subject, dealing with the standard topics: theories of Sigmund Freud, Erik Erikson, Jean Piaget, Robert Kegan; methods of research; conception, heredity and prenatal development; infancy; childhood; puberty and adolescence; early adulthood; middle age; old age; facing death.

14. Theological Methods: the main models and approaches:
The impact of method on the conclusions. The plurality of methods used in Christian theology and philosophy. Examples: Theologies present in the New Testament; the Desert Fathers; Patristic theology (e.g., Augustine); Anselm’s “faith seeking understanding”; the scholastic method and the university milieu (response to secular learning, commentaries, lectures, quaestiones disputatae, quaestiones de quolibet); the Protestant reformers and the post-Tridentine Catholic theology; neo-scholastic theology and the “theses”; Karl Barth; the “post-Christian” world of Europe and the response of Karl Rahner (integral human experience as the starting point; dialogue with the sciences); Lonergan’s study on method; the methodology of liberation theology (the role of praxis; hermeneutics re-interpreted); feminism and its theological method; Asian paths in theology; Indian theological methodologies (classical and contemporary).

15. Methodology of Study and Research
A how-to course for students and professionals. Topics: the requirements of academic success; emotional balance; mastery of the basic skills (time-management; concentration, use of the library, the SQ3R method of study, memory training, note-taking, organizing notes and clippings, taking examinations, reading, building a vocabulary, studying foreign languages, learning to write); specialized skills (use of computers in education, rules for academic writing, speed reading).