Before joining the Berkeley faculty he taught in the Department of Religious Studies at McMaster University (1989-95) and in the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of Michigan (1995-2003). He works primarily in the area of medieval Chinese Buddhism (especially Chan), but he also dabbles in Japanese Buddhism, Buddhist art, ritual studies, and methodological issues in the study of religion. He is author of Coming to Terms with Chinese Buddhism: A Reading of the Treasure Store Treatise (2002), co-editor of Living Images: Japanese Buddhist Icons in Context (2001), and is currently working on a book tentatively titled "Thinking about Not Thinking: Buddhist Struggles with Mindlessness, Insentience, and Nirvana."
In addition to his appointment in East Asian Languages and Cultures, he is Chair of the Center for Buddhist Studies at UCB. He also serves on the editorial boards of the Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies, the Journal for the Study of Chinese Religions, the Journal of Religion in Japan, and the Kuroda Institute Series published in conjunction with University of Hawai'i Press. (Source Accessed June 11, 2019)
8 Library Items
About this person
Coming to Terms with Chinese Buddhism: A Reading of the Treasure Store Treatise, Kuroda Institute Studies in East Asian Buddhism, no. 14 (Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 2002). Translated into Chinese by Xia Zhiqian 夏志前 and Xia Shaowei 夏少伟, under the title Zoujin Zhongguo Fojiao (Baozanglun jiedu) 走进中国佛教 (宝藏论解读), in the series Juequn foxue yicong 觉群佛学译丛 (Shanghai: Shanghai guji chubanshe 上海古籍出版社, 2009).
Living Images: Japanese Buddhist Icons in Context, Asian Religions and Cultures, no. 2, co-edited with Elizabeth Horton Sharf (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2001). Chapter contributions: "Prolegomenon to the Study of Japanese Buddhist Icons," and "Visualization and Mandala in Shingon Buddhism."
Journal articles and book chapters:
- "Is Yogācāra Phenomenology? Some Evidence From the Cheng weishi lun," Journal of Indian Philosophy (Sept. 4, 2015).
- "Is Mindfulness Buddhist? (And Why It Matters)," Transcultural Psychiatry 52, no. 4 (2015), 470-484.
- "Mindfulness and Mindlessness in Early Chan," Philosophy East & West 64, no. 4 (October, 2014), pp. 933-964.
- "Is Nirvāṇa the Same as Insentience? Chinese Struggles with an Indian Buddhist Ideal," in India in the Chinese Imagination: Myth, Religion, and Thought, edited by John Kieschnick and Meir Shahar (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014), pp. 141-170.
- "Art in the Dark: The Ritual Context of Buddhist Caves in Western China," in Art of Merit: Studies in Buddhist Art and its Conservation, edited by David Park, Kuenga Wangmo, and Sharon Cather (London: Archetype Publications, Courtauld Institute of Art, 2013), pp. 38-65.
- "Lun Hanchuan mijiao 论汉传密教" [On Chinese Esoteric Buddhism], trans. Zhang Linghui 张凌晖, in Hewei mijiao? Guanyu mijiao de dingyi, xiuxi, fuhao he lishi de quanshi yu zhenglun 何谓密教？关于密教的定义、修习、符号和历史的诠释与争论 [What is Esoterism? On the Interpretation and Controversy over the Definition, Practice, Semiology, and Historiography of Esoterism], edited by Shen Weirong 沈卫荣 (Beijing: Zhongguo zang xue, 2013), pp. 114-142.
- "The Buddha's Finger Bones at Famensi and the Art of Chinese Esoteric Buddhism." Art Bulletin 93, no. 1 (March, 2011), pp. 38-59.
- "How to Think with Chan Gongans," in Thinking with Cases: Specialized Knowledge in Chinese Cultural History, edited by Charlotte Furth, Judith Zeitlin, Hsiung Ping-chen (Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 2007), pp. 205-243.
- "Suzuki, D. T.," in The Encyclopedia of Religion, 2nd ed., edited by Lindsay Jones (New York: Macmillan, 2005), vol. 13, pp. 8884-8887.
- "Ritual," in Critical Terms for the Study of Buddhism, edited by Donald S. Lopez, Jr. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005), pp. 245-269.
- "Thinking through Shingon Ritual," Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies 26, no. 1 (2003), pp. 51-96.
- "On Pure Land Buddhism and Ch'an/Pure Land Syncretism in Medieval China," T'oung Pao 88, no. 4-5 (June, 2003), pp. 282-331.
- "The Uses and Abuses of Zen in the Twentieth Century," in Zen, Reiki, Karate: Japanische Religiosität in Europa (Bunka: Tübinger interkulturelle und linguistische Japanstudien, band 2), edited by Inken Prohl and Hartmut Zinser (Münster, Hamburg, London: Lit Verlag, 2002), pp. 143-154.
- "Suzuki, Daisetz Teitaro," in Encyclopedia of Monasticism, edited by William M. Johnston (Chicago and London: Fitzroy Dearborn, 2000), vol. 2, pp. 1218-19.
- "On the Allure of Buddhist Relics," Representations 66 (Spring, 1999), pp. 75-99. Republished in Embodying the Dharma: Buddhist Relic Veneration in Asia, edited by David Germano and Kevin Trainor (Albany: SUNY Press, 2004), pp. 163-191.
- "Mujǒng-chungsaeng ŭi pulsǒng e taehayǒ (Ttonŭn Sǒn ŭi kongan ŭl ǒttǒk'e pol kot in'ga?)" ("On the Buddha-nature of Insentient Things [or: How to Think about a Ch'an Kung-an]"), Korean translation by Sǒ Chǒnghyǒng, in Cheilhoe Hanguk-Sǒn Kukche-haksul-taehoe Nonmunjip, edited by Pibaek kyohak yǒn'guso (Seoul: Hyoil munhwasa, 1999), pp. 155-191.
- "Experience," in Critical Terms for Religious Studies, edited by Mark C. Taylor (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998), pp. 94-116. Republished as "The Rhetoric of Experience and the Study of Religion," in Cognitive Models and Spiritual Maps (a special issue of the Journal of Consciousness Studies, vol. 7, nos. 11/12, 2000), edited by Jensine Andresen and Bob Forman. Republished in Religious Experience: A Reader (Critical Categories in the Study of Religion), edited by Craig Martin and Russell T. McCutcheon (London: Equinox Publishing, 2012), pp. 131-150.
- "The Scripture on the Production of Buddha Images" (Zuo fo xingxiang jing), in Religions of China in Practice, edited by Donald S. Lopez, Jr. (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996), pp. 261-267.
- "The Scripture in Forty-two Sections" (Sishier zhang jing), in Religions of China in Practice, edited by Donald S. Lopez, Jr. (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996), pp. 360-371. Republished in An Anthology of Asian Religions in Practice, edited by Donald S. Lopez, Jr. (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2002), pp. 418-429.
- "Buddhist Modernism and the Rhetoric of Meditative Experience," Numen 42, no. 3 (1995), pp. 228-283. Republished in Buddhism: Critical Concepts in Buddhist Studies, edited by Paul Williams (London: Routledge, 2005), vol. 2, pp. 255-298.
- "Zen to Nihon no nashonarizumu 禅と日本のナショナリズム," in Nihon no bukkyō 4: Kinsei-kindai to bukkyō 日本の仏教四: 近世・近代と仏教, edited by the Nihon bukkyō kenkyūkai 日本仏教研究会 (Tokyo: Hōzōkan, 1995), pp. 81-108. Republished in Zen to gendai 禅と現代, edited by Nishimura Eshin 西村惠信 (Tokyo: Perikan-sha, 1998), pp. 305-344. An adapted Japanese translation of "The Zen of Japanese Nationalism" (see below).
- "Whose Zen? Zen Nationalism Revisited," in Rude Awakenings: Zen, the Kyoto School, and the Question of Nationalism (Nanzan Studies in Religion and Culture), edited by James W. Heisig and John Maraldo (Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 1995), pp. 40-51.
- "Sanbōkyōdan: Zen and the Way of the New Religions," Japanese Journal of Religious Studies 22, no. 3-4: Special Edition: The New Age in Japan, edited by Haga Manabu and Robert Kisala (1995), pp. 417-458.
- "The Zen of Japanese Nationalism," in Curators of the Buddha: The Study of Buddhism under Colonialism, edited by Donald S. Lopez, Jr. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995), pp. 107-160. An earlier version appeared in History of Religions 33, no. 1 (1993), pp. 1-43.
- "Zen and the Art of Deconstruction" (review article on The Rhetoric of Immediacy: A Cultural Critique of Chan/Zen Buddhism, by Bernard Faure), in History of Religions 33, no. 3 (1994), pp. 287-296.
- "On the Ritual Use of Ch'an Portraiture in Medieval China" (with T. Griffith Foulk), in Cahiers d'Extrême-Asie 7 (1993-1994), pp. 149-219. Republished in Chan Buddhism in Ritual Context, edited by Bernard Faure (London, New York: RoutledgeCurzon, 2003), pp. 74-150.
- "The Idolization of Enlightenment: On the Mummification of Ch'an Masters in Medieval China," History of Religions 32, no. 1 (1992), pp. 1-31. Republished in Buddhism: Critical Concepts in Buddhist Studies, edited by Paul Williams (London: Routledge, 2005), vol. 8, pp. 337-365.
- "The Religion of Science: Paul Carus and The Gospel of Buddha," Tricycle (Summer, 1995), pp. 12-15.
- "Lineage and Likeness: The Meaning and Function of Zen Portraiture" (with T. Griffith Foulk and Elizabeth H. Sharf), in Ten Directions 14, no. 1 (1993), pp. 20-25.
- "A Study of the Treatise on One Śloka (Ekaślokaśāstra)," Spring-Autumn Papers, 4, no. 1 (1984), pp. 81-96.
- Secrets of the Sacred: Empowering Buddhist Images in Clear, in Code, and in Cache, by Helmut Brinker, in Art Bulletin 95, no. 1 (March, 2013), pp. 167-168.
- Chan Insights and Oversights: An Epistemological Critique of the Chan Tradition, by Bernard Faure, in The Journal of Religion 75, no. 2 (1995), pp. 318-319.
- Eloquent Zen: Daitō and Early Japanese Zen, by Kenneth Kraft, in The Journal of Religion 74, no. 3 (1993), pp. 432-433.
- Dōgen's Manuals of Zen Meditation, by Carl Bielefeldt, in Chanoyu Quarterly 68 (1992), pp. 61-65.
- An Introduction to Buddhism, by Takasaki Jikido, in Chanoyu Quarterly 62 (1990), pp. 67-70.
“Losing Our Religion.” Interview in Tricycle, Summer, 2007, pp. 44-49.
- "Mindfulness or Mindlessness: Traditional and Modern Buddhist Critiques of 'Bare Awareness.'" Presented at McGill University, Division of Social and Transcultural Psychiatry, 15th annual Advanced Study Institute, June 3-5, 2013.
- "Sudden/Gradual and the State of the Field: A Tribute to Luis O. Gómez." Presented at the panel "From San Juan to Sukhāvatī: Reflections on Buddhist Studies and the Career of Luis O. Gómez," held at the Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Religion, Chicago, November 1, 2008.
- "The Phenomenology of Insentience: Buddhist Meditation and Sensual Experience." Presented at Yale University, Conference on "The Senses of Religion: Knowledge, Miracles, Worship, and Sensory Experience in the World's Religions," October 27-29, 2006.
- "The Persistence of Magic." Presented at Yale University, Workshop on "Manipulating Magic: Sages, Sorcerers, and Scholars," April 16-17, 2005.
Affiliations & relations
- University of California, Berkeley · workplace affiliation
- http://buddhiststudies.berkeley.edu/people/faculty/sharf/ · websites