Assignment 5

Read "The Beginnings of Buddhism" in the World Religions Reader, 58-62, and the stories in Strong, Experience of Buddhism: Sangha (P/Class). The author of "The Beginnings of Buddhism" advances several theories as to why Buddhism expanded in Asia. Enumerate these theories. Which theory does the author favor?

According to the Buddhist stories, how does the Buddhist tradition incorporate and conceptualize the roles of monks, laypeople, and rulers? Choose one of the stories that particularly appeals to you both and discuss what interests and/or challenges you most about it. Does the historical argument advanced by the World Religions Reader article enhance or detract from your appreciation of the stories? Why or why not? In light of these stories, which theory of Buddhist expansion seems most plausible? Why?

Write up the results of your discussion in a 2 page typed paper. In your discussion be sure that you also include the following:

a) a brief summary of the most important ideas of the World Religions Reader article

b) a brief explanation of the meaning of the story you chose