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The Life of the Buddha and the Early Sangha

The Term Paper critically evaluates topics relating Buddhist perspectives to subject areas agreed on with the instructor.  Papers are: a) to demonstrate knowledge of learning based on the class content throughout the course (50%) and your additional research including your interpretations and analysis of topics related to this course.  Term papers are due no later than April 4th unless permission is given for an extension. Here are some brief guidelines for writing a term paper:

Choosing a Topic

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Choose a topic that you have some interest in.  It could be a deeper look at something covered during the term. For example:

  • The Life of the Buddha and the Early Sangha
  • Buddhist Views of Karma and Rebirth
  • The Role of View, Meditation, and Action in Buddhism
  • The Bodhisattva Vow
  • Emptiness and Compassion
  • Distinctions between Indian, Chinese, and Tibetan Buddhism

You can use a different topic, but if you choose something other than the above you must get written permission from the instructor.

Develop a Question or Questions about Your Topic


  • What motivated the Buddha to leave his life as a Prince?
  • How are dictionary definitions of ego and compassion different form Buddhist approaches to ego and compassion?
  • What is the status of women in different Buddhist cultures?

Research Your Topic

  1. All term papers should have a minimum of three research sources. The course textbook and the Class Notes count as one source.
  2. In general, use the library and ask the reference librarian for help. They can be especially helpful if you want to research journal articles or do advanced searches on Novanet, the interlibrary system.
  3. Be careful to quote or footnote all your sources.  Ask the librarian for a guide on how to cite sources for your bibliography. (APA, MLA, or Chicago are all acceptable)
  4. You may use Internet search engines, but cite your web site sources. Always find at least two independent sources that agree before using information found only on the Internet.
  5. You may use first person experience.  Use the contemplation instructions in class to help you understand the implicationsand consequences of what your research has told you. Be sure to consider what assumptions you make.
  6. You can also use observations of your own experience.  Again, be aware of what assumptions you may be making and note them in your paper.
  7. If something is unresolved or leads to more questions, don’t dismiss that, include it in your paper.
  8. Then draw conclusions – what have you learned?

Structure of the Paper


What is the purpose of your paper?  What questions or themes will it address?

Main Text

Organize a) research findings, including your own experience if relevant, b) your analysis (what does it mean?), and c) your conclusions, including remaining or new questions.


What did you learn from the research?  Did your perspective shift?  If so, how, why?  If you were to continue your research, what would you do next?


Provide a reference list of sources.


At the end of the term students will submit a term papaer approximately 2000 to 2500 words, not including the cover page and table of contents, computer-generated, with single line spacing, standard font-size (Times New Roman 12 pt. or Arial 10 pt.) and 1” margins.

For further information on writing Term Papers see:

The class notes are in the attachments.


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