For this assignment, you are to ponder some reflection questions before listening to the lecture component. These questions aim to stimulate your thinking and focus your concentration on the topics to be explored in the lecture, as a means of provoking you into thinking philosophically while you attentively listen to the lecture. There will be multiple topics, but do not respond to them all. Rather, pick one topic to respond to that catches your attention or that you otherwise find intriguing. After you have selected your topic, spend 10 minutes pondering the topic’s questions and recording your thoughts. The reason for there being multiple questions within a topic is to assist with developing a response that has depth. For this assignment, do not be concerned about the number of thoughts you have on the topic. Rather, you should be concerned with the quality of your thoughts. In assessing your response, the teaching team will look to see how clearly and precisely you articulate your beliefs and how deeply you explain the reasoning for and assumptions underlying your beliefs. Here are the topics for you to consider:
Topic #1: Different religions and spiritual traditions make vastly different claims about spiritual truth and the practices necessary to achieve spiritual goals. For example, Christianity and Hinduism make substantively different claims about the nature of reality and how to achieve spiritual liberation. Even within Christianity, different denominations and sects disagree about the nature of God and the path to salvation. As a result, how can we know which religion, sect, or tradition is right? What criteria can we use to determine who is telling the truth? As you articulate your position, clearly explain the reasoning for your position, and if appropriate provide a concrete real-life example that illustrates your position.
Topic #2: Does your sense of causation (cause-and-effect) influence your understanding of how pain and suffering come about in your life? Put another way, does your sense of how events in your life are caused relate to your understanding of how pain and suffering arise in your experiences? How so? Further, does this link between causation of life’s events and the experience of pain and suffering provide an understanding of how you might reduce the frequency of pain and suffering in your life? Why or why not? As you articulate your position, clearly explain the reasoning for your position, and if appropriate provide a concrete real-life example that illustrates your position.
Topic #3: When engaging in mundane daily tasks, such as eating, walking, breathing, or brushing your teeth, how often do you engage in them with full awareness and concentration? For example, when walking, how often do you catch yourself being aware of each step you take, each part of your foot touching the ground? Do you think it would improve the quality of your life if your mind were to be fully engaged in each task and activity as you undertake it each day? Why or why not? As you articulate your position, clearly explain the reasoning for your position, and if appropriate provide a concrete real-life example that illustrates your position.
There will be a total of 12 reflections; the two lowest scores will be dropped when calculating the final grade. This results in 10 reflections, each being worth 4% of your final grade. 6 reflections will be graded as credit/no credit and 6 reflections will be graded according to the rubric. You will not know in advance which reflections will be graded credit/no credit and which reflections will be graded with the rubric; as such, reflections should be completed with the expectation that the rubric could be used.
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