Buddhist Perspective Essay

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Buddhist Perspective Essay

In this activity, you will operationalize the knowledge you have gained to date to solve the problem confronting a columnist who writes an advice column. This activity will allow you to apply your knowledge of the materials and resources provided to you in this lesson. More importantly, the activity provides a practice opportunity, within a real world context, for you to apply what you are learning.

Important: 1) do not exceed the 400 word limit; 2) please do not use direct quotes or outside sources; rather use your own words when referring to the material from the lesson; 3) provide short parenthetical citations consisting only of page numbers from the text to document specific points; 4) clearly indicate each of the five points with a number in parentheses (1) at the beginning of each point; 5) wherever possible include examples to illustrate your responses; and 6) your submission should be double spaced using Times New Roman 12 point font with black type. Buddhist Perspective Essay


The Situation

You write a regular advice and lifestyle column for a North American publication.  Recently you received the following message, which is divided into five paragraphs.

1) I am a sophomore at a large state university.  As far back as I can remember I have suffered from a nagging sense of discontentment and anxiety that things are not quite right with my life.  I have no idea why I seem to suffer and despair so much about my life.  (Four Noble Truths)

2) I do not feel well-adjusted to society, and I worry that I will never find a major that will lead to meaningful employment after I graduate.  I am not sure what steps to take to get my life on track. (The Eightfold Path)

3) This constant discontentment has made it difficult to function because I am always thinking about my situation.  Sometimes I obsess so much it is difficult to sleep at night. (The Practice of Meditation)

4) Recently, I had to take a part-time job to make ends meet financially, whereas my friends have plenty of financial resources and material possessions. They all seem happy and I often wonder why I cannot be more like them.  If only I could make a lot of money, I know that would make me happy.  (The Middle Path)

5) Recently, a close friend has been giving me the cold shoulder, which makes me think that there is something wrong with me. All of this has led me to question my self-identity.  I wonder if I will ever be able to change as a person.  How can I begin to turn my life around and find some contentment in our heartless society? (The Five Aggregates)

Your Task

Your task is to write a response to this message from a basic Buddhist perspective.  Your reply should be in five paragraphs consisting of two to four sentences for each one, and should focus on the following five aspects of the Buddhist tradition listed in each section:  The Four Noble TruthsThe Eightfold PathThe Practice of Meditation, The Middle Path, and The Five Aggregates.  Describe each aspect and explain how it addresses “J’s” concerns in each paragraph.  For example how do the Four Noble Truths address “J’s” concerns described in paragraph #1?  Your task here is not to promote Buddhism but to explain it in a systematic way to someone with no background in Buddhism.  It is thus important to show the interrelationship or connection among these aspects.  Specifically, your goal is to use Buddhist terms and insights to provide useful advice for the author of the message above.  Therefore, your response should be addressed to “J in Michigan” and deal with the concerns that “J” has expressed.


Grading: You will be graded based on the accuracy of your answers, the giving of examples and the use of the proper format. In addition, you will gain points when you list where in the Lesson materials you found the information on which you base your answer and will lose points when you do not.

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