Spotlight on a Course: Buddhism and Medicine

Gesshin Claire Greenwood  |  November 16, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the fragility of the human body to the forefront of our minds and imaginations. What tools does Buddhism offer us in confronting health and illness? This spring semester, we are excited that Dr. Courtney Bruntz will be teaching a timely online course entitled “Buddhism and Medicine,” which examines how Buddhism lends itself to both collective and individual healing. 

This course surveys the intersections of Buddhism and medicine across Asia and introduces students to historical and contemporary healing practices of Buddhist communities. Students will examine Buddhist sources regarding the history of medicine, as well as rituals and practices related to notions of health, wellness, disease, death, and the body. 

Dr. Bruntz is particularly excited to examine with students the rich history of ritual in Buddhism. She writes, “One contemporary issue students in this course will encounter is the way in which Buddhist communities have responded to COVID-19. From offering daily chants to relying on talismans for protection, Buddhist practitioners turn to rituals and sacred materials/objects for both healing and protection. Buddhism is often viewed as a tradition of meditation, but what we find when looking at how Buddhist communities respond to disease, illness, and death, is that rituals are resources for solace during times of fear and concern regarding individual and collective well-being.”

Dr. Bruntz is interested in methods of teaching and learning that are contemplative. In addition to being a professor and associate Dean, she is also a certified mindfulness instructor. Students can expect this course of study will cover how Buddhists are actually living their lives– the rituals, practices, and objects Buddhists throughout Asia and America use for healing. They will be exposed to the diverse ways people use Buddhism to increase their sense of wellbeing, and be able to apply this knowledge to their own practice. 

This course takes place weekly, is entirely online, and runs from the end of January through the week of May 20, 2022. The course will be asynchronous– a combination of recorded video lectures, online discussion groups, reading, and writing assignments that students can complete on their own schedule. The cost of this course for auditors is $825. Senior auditors are eligible for a discounted fee of $415. Non-degree students can sign up for this class by emailing our Registrar at through January 28.