Portland State University

PHL 319U Introduction to Asian Philosophy (4)

Instructor: David Komito, Ph.D.
Phone: 541-663-6264; this is my cell phone, I do not have an office phone
Email: komito@pdx.edu

Learning Outcomes:
Upon completion of this course students will have acquired:

• An understanding of the development of the major philosophic traditions of Asia within their contexts of origin.
• An in-depth knowledge of the primary tenets and symbolic systems of Asian philosophy.
• An appreciation for the diversity of manifestations of the philosophic expressions in Asia.

About your instructor:

David Komito trained as a scholar of world religions at Indiana University, from which he received M.A., M.S.Ed. and Ph.D. degrees. His primary interests are in the religions and philosophies of India and Tibet and the Psychology of Religion.† He is the author of three books on Buddhism and was a member of the translating team for a fourth book, which is a meditation manual used in the Dalai Lamaís monastery. Though he is an accomplished scholar and teacher, in Davidís view the more you know the simpler you will sound.† This means that you can expect to be challenged and to learn a lot in this course which (hopefully) you will find personally useful; that all instruction will be respectful of your religious and philosophical views, will be straight forward, will be addressed to the curiosity of the students in this course, and (hopefully) will be easy to understand.

Required Texts:

Asian Philosophies; 6th Edition. John M. Koller. Pearson, 2012. Since this book is expensive I suggest you consider purchasing a used version (from the PSU Bookstore or Amazon for example) or even rental of a print or digital version (which can be done at the PSU book store and also from Amazon) to save yourself some money. I would have you read an alternative and cheaper version of a textbook if such a thing were available, but this book is quite good and the alternatives, while cheaper, are not going to teach you as much.

• Available online at no charge:

o Katha Upanishad
o Bhagavad-Gita (selections)
o Tsongkhapa’s Three Principle Aspects of the Path
o Yijing (selections)
o Daodejing (selections)
o Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch (Chapter 1)

Course Requirements:

Students will be expected to read all assignments, listen to all audio recorded lectures, participate on the course discussion board, take four multiple choice/true-false exams and submit a short essay.

Means of Assessment and Grading Policies:

Each objective exam has from 15 to 19 questions. Dates of exams and due date for the essay are indicated in the weekly content, below. NOTE THAT A "WEEK" IN THIS COURSE RUNS FROM SUNDAY THROUGH SATURDAY, SO ALL EXAMS, THE COURSE ESSAY AND DISCUSSION POSTINGS MUST BE SUBMITTED BY THE END OF THE WEEK, WHICH IS A SATURDAY. The topics and points are as follows:

17 points


19 points


19 points


15 points


20 points


10 points




100 points


The following grading scale is applied for assigning final grades:

• 100 is the maximum number of points for the course.
• 90% of possible points = A-
• 80% of possible points = B-
• 70% of possible points = C-
• 60% of possible points = D-
• Less than 60% of possible points = Fail

There is no "extra credit."

Conference with the instructor:

You may arrange a telephone or "skype" conference with me to discuss anything about the course by emailing me in advance <komito@pdx.edu> so we can find a mutually convenient time to talk.

Weekly Readings and Assessments

IMPORTANT NOTICE: A password is required to open all hyperlinks on this page. This password is posted in the course D2L site, and is available for students beginning on the first day of the term for which they have registered.

Be sure to read or listen to assignments in the numeric order indicated for each week.

Week 1: Introduction to the study of Philosophy in Asia

  1. Audio Lecture: About Philosophy in Asia
  2. Read Koller, p 1 - 10
  3. Audio Comments on Koller, Chapter 1
  4. Lecture: Early agricultural cultures and nomadic invasions: the dynamic tension in the history of Asian religions
  5. Commentaries in D2L

Week 2: Vedas and Upanishadic Philosophy

  1. Audio Lecture: About the Vedas and Upanishads; the philosophical schools of Samkhya and Vedanta
  2. Read Koller, p 12 - 23
  3. Audio Comments part 1 on Koller, Chapter 2
  4. Audio Comments part 2 on Koller, Chapter 2
  5. Text and Commentary: The Katha Upanishad
  6. Commentaries in D2L

Week 3: Samkhya and Vedanta

  1. Read Koller, p 98 - 107 and p 120 - 130
  2. Article on Samkhya Philosophy
  3. Audio Comments on Koller, Chapter 8
  4. Audio Comments on Koller, Chapter 10
  5. Lecture: The Bhagavad Gita
  6. Commentaries in D2L

EXAM I at the end of the week.

Week 4: Basics of Buddhist Philosophy

  1. Audio Lecture: About Buddhist Philosophy
  2. Read Koller, p 37 - 64
  3. Audio Comments on Koller, Chapters 4 and 5
  4. Lecture: The Individual Path: Hinayana/Theravada
  5. Lecture: Buddhist origins: a systematic psychology for liberation
  6. Commentaries in D2L

Week 5: Mahayana Buddhist Philosophy

  1. Read Koller, p 64 - 88
  2. Audio Comments on Koller, Chapters 5 and 6
  3. Lecture: Buddhist universalism: interactions with Hinduism, Taoism and the Mahayana Buddhist envelopment of Asia
  4. Text and commentary: Tsongkapa's The Three Principal Aspects of the Path
  5. Lecture: Source Consciousness and Mental Images
  6. Commentaries in D2L

EXAM II at the end of the week.

Week 6: Roots of East Asian Philosophy in Taoism and Confucianism

  1. Audio Lecture: About East Asian Philosophy
  2. Read Koller, p 167 - 177, p 196 - 205, p 217 - 223
  3. Lecture: Taoism: finding Truth in nature
  4. Lecture: Nature and Reality in East Asia
  5. Commentaries in D2L

ESSAY IS DUE by the end of the week.

Week 7: Neoconfucian Philosophy

  1. Audio Lecture: Neoconfucian Philosophy and the Management of the Empire.
  2. Read Koller, p 180 - 194, p 248 - 264
  3. Audio Comments on Koller, Chapter 15
  4. Lecture: Confucian Philosophy
  5. Article: Sung Dynasty Culture
  6. Commentaries in D2L

EXAM III at the end of the week.

Week 8: Buddhist Philosophy in China

  1. Audio Lecture: About Zen
  2. Read Koller, p 237 - 247
  3. Audio Comments on Koller, Chapter 20
  4. Text and Commentary: The Platform Sutra of the 6th patriarch of Zen
  5. Commentaries in D2L

Week 9: Buddhist Philosophy in Japan

  1. Web site: What is Zen, a talk by Ed Sattizahn,San Francisco Zen Center
  2. Audio Lecture: Zen and Martial Arts
  3. Lecture: Zen and Archery
  4. Lecture: Zen Gardens
  5. Read Koller, p 275 - 295
  6. Lecture: Modern Zen
  7. Commentaries in D2L

EXAM IV at the end of the week.

Week 10: Contemporary Voices

  1. Audio lecture: The practice of Asian Philosophy in the modern world
  2. Ramana Maharshi: Basic teachings
  3. Ramana Maharshi: The movie metaphor
  4. Dalai Lama 14: Training the Mind
  5. Dalai Lama 14: Science at the Crossroads
  6. Commentaries in D2L

This course ends on 11: 59 PM, Saturday, week 10. There is no final exam.

PSU values diversity and inclusion; we are committed to fostering mutual respect and full participation for all students. My goal is to create a learning environment that is equitable, useable, inclusive, and welcoming. If any aspects of instruction or course design result in barriers to your inclusion or learning, please notify me. The Disability  Resource Center (DRC) provides reasonable accommodations for students who encounter barriers in the learning environment.

If you have, or think you may have, a disability that may affect your work in this class and feel you need accommodations, contact the Disability Resource Center to schedule an appointment and initiate a conversation about reasonable accommodations. The DRC is located in 116 Smith Memorial Student Union, 503-725-4150, drc@pdx.eduhttp://www.pdx.edu/drc.