Questions For Exam 1


  • On the day of the test, your question will be chosen at random.
  • You will have approximately 8 minutes to answer.
  • You will be graded according to your comprehension, focus, fluidity, correct use of technical vocabulary, and overall composure according to the oral exam rubric.
  • While others are speaking you will be evaluating them anonymously on a grading sheet that you will turn in to the instructor at the end of the exam period.
  • ALL persons scheduled to take their exam on a given day should show up at 10:30 AM and remain quietly until it is their turn to take the test.
  • Being late and other distracting behaviors will harm the performance of the person taking the test. All such behaviors are unacceptable and will result in according deductions from the test score, up to and including failure for serious distractions.
  • No late or make up exams will be given.

The Questions

1. Explain the difference between the orthodox and unorthodox schools of Indian philosophy. Give an example of a philosophical school that belongs in each category, and say why it belongs there.

2. Recapitulate the argument of the Rg Veda regarding the origin of the universe.

3. Explain the difference between Vedic and Upanishadic worldviews.

4. What does the phrase "tat tvam asi" mean? Relate this phrase to the assertion of the Upanishadic schools that "Brahman is atman."

5. Explain the significance of the legend of the four signs in Buddhism.

6. List the Four Noble Truths. Does the importance of suffering in Buddhist philosophy mean that the Buddhist outlook on life is essentially negative? Why or why not?

7. Explain the three levels of suffering (dukkha) discussed in connection with the First Noble Truth. What is the ultimate cause of suffering, according to the Buddhist philosophy?

8. List and explain all the components of the Noble Eightfold Path.

9. What is interdependent arising? How does it tie in to the Buddha's teachings about suffering and liberation?

10. Explain the six realms of existence from the Wheel of Becoming. How, according to Buddhist philosophy, does one ultimately escape from the cycle depicted in the Wheel?

11. Explain the process of "construction, deconstruction, and reconstruction" of language used in the prajnaparamita texts. What purpose does this process serve, according to Buddhist thought?

12. Explain the doctrine of emptiness taught by the Heart Sutra. How did this doctrine stand against the Abidharma understanding of interdependent arising?

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