Robert M. Gimello

Robert M. Gimello

Research Professor
Research Professor of Theology and of East Asian Languages & Cultures
World Religions and World Church


B.A. & M.A., Seton Hall University, 1964‐65

Ph.D. Columbia University, 1976

Post‐Doctoral Study at Tokyo University, 1979

Research and Teaching Interests

Gimello is an historian of Buddhism with special interests also in the Theology of Religions and in Comparative Mysticism. In the field of Buddhist Studies he concentrates especially on the Buddhism of East Asia (China, Korea, & Japan), most particularly on the Buddhism of medieval and early modern China. The traditions of Buddhist thought and practice on which most of his work has focused are Huayan (The “Flower‐Ornament” Tradition), Chan (Zen), and Esoteric (Tantric) Buddhism, in the study of all of which he is particularly concerned with the relationships between Buddhist thought or doctrine and Buddhist contemplative and liturgical practice.

In the area of Theology of Religions, against the background of contemporary debates about the theological implications of religious pluralism, and in critical response to major trends in the ongoing Buddhist‐Christian dialogue, he is concerned chiefly with the question of what Catholic theology can, or should, or must make of Buddhism.

In the field of the study of mysticism he joins regularly in the debates, chiefly among philosophers of religion, about the differences and similarities among various mystical traditions and about the relationship between mystical experience and the practices and beliefs that comprise religious traditions.

In addition to his previous employment at Dartmouth College, the University of California at Santa Barbara, the University of Arizona, and Harvard University, he has held visiting appointments at the University of London, the University of Heidelberg, Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest, the Charles University in Prague, and the Chung Hwa Institute for Buddhist Studies in Taipei. In the spring‐summer term of 2010 he will serve as the Shinnyō‐en Visiting Professor of Buddhist Studies at Stanford University.

Gimello has served in the past as President of the Society for the Study of Chinese Religion, was a founding member of the Kuroda Institute for the Study of Buddhism, and has recently joined the editorial board of the journal, Church History: Studies in Christianity and Culture.


Recent Publications

Avataṃsaka Buddhism in East Asia: Origins and Adaptations of a Visual Culture,  co-edited with Frédéric Girard and Imre Hamar (Wiesbaden:  Harrassowitz Verlag, 2013) .

Philosophy and the Occult in Later Chinese Buddhism: A Study and Annotated Translation of Daoshen’s Xianmi yuantong chengfo xinyao ji (Essentials for the Achievement of Buddhahood in the Perfect [inter] Penetration of the Exoteric and the Esoteric).

A Flowering of Chinese Buddhism: Essays on the Huayan Tradition, co‐edited with Imre Hamar (Budapest) and Frédéric Girard (Paris).

Completion of an annotated translation of Ŭisang’s Diagram of the Realm of Truth according to the One Vehicle of the Huayan Scripture, under contract with the Academy of Korean Studies, Seoul.


331 Malloy Hall