Fall 2024: European, African, and Asian Adventure

PHIL 379 Mysticism East and West [CRN 76719]

Overview of Course

Sadhus, Sufis, Monks, and Rinpoches—these are some of the spiritual heroes of the global religious traditions we will encounter during our journey on Semester-at-Sea. This course is dedicated to appreciating these spiritual figures that represent the pinnacle of their respective traditions. Central to our study will be analysis of the religious and psychological phenomenon known as the mystical experience, which can occur both within traditional religions and outside them, as has been claimed in psychedelic experiences. We will analyze the typical path of the spiritual masters, playing particular focus to the role of ascetic acts such as bodily mortification, fasting, celibacy, renunciation, and courting social dishonor. We will also compare how the mystical journey of women has historically been similar and different from the men in the traditions. Finally, we will look at life in the monasteries, ashrams, and sanghas that provide the space for mystics to develop and will be options for visits during our port stops during Semester-at-Sea.