Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts
Wheaton College
First-Year Seminar


FYS Section A28. Mutants and Mystics

If The World is Made of Stories (as claimed by the Buddhist philosopher David Loy), then it may be that we are being written and edited continuously through the sometimes obvious, sometimes subtle, often nearly imperceptible conditioning of family, language, culture, ideology and religion. Through a close reading of Jeffrey Kripal’s book, Mutants and Mystics, this course explores a seemingly disparate array of topics: science fiction, superhero comics, UFOs, paranormal experiences, practical neuroscience, a narrative/hermeneutical vision of reality as well as the possibility of a Super Story, the transforming meta-story that suggests how we may reclaim authorship of our own lives. According to Buddhism, visualization and meditation—i.e., spiritual practices—are indispensible tools in the process of liberating ourselves, of rewriting our own life stories. At the end of the course, we will examine powerful Buddhist psycho-technologies developed for transforming the mind of afflictive emotions into the mind of wisdom-compassion. Guided by Buddha’s Brain: the Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love and Wisdom, students will be introduced to several forms of meditation practice.

Jeffrey R. TimmJeffrey R. Timm
Professor of Religion