Death and Immortality

Death is both a basic and universal fact of our existence (we’re born, we live, we die—we all do that!) and one of the most awesome and mind-boggling mysteries we human beings have to face. Throughout human history people have developed many ways in which they deal with the reality of death and also strive to go beyond its limits. In this course we will focus on the religious imagination of death and its transcendence. By looking at the stories, symbols, rituals and doctrines of several religious traditions (Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Mesoamerican religions, etc.) we will explore diverse and fascinating ways of understanding death and the experience of dying, and of imagining the realms beyond this life. We’ll also see how these perspectives are integrally related to the particular religions’ cosmologies, theological reflections, and visions of human nature and morality—in other words, how our way of dying is a part of our way of living, inviting us to come to terms with who we are and to imagine what we could become.