Originally from Long Island, New York, Dr. Muller is a Professor in the Graduate School of Humanities and Sociology at the University of Tokyo. He moved to UTokyo in 2008, after spending the previous fourteen years at Tōyō Gakuen University (also located in Tokyo). He received his PhD from the Department of Comparative Literature at SUNY Stony Brook in 1993, where his main advisor was Sung Bae Park, a specialist in Korean Buddhism.
Dr. Muller’s main field of research is Buddhism, but he is also a student of the broader area of East Asian philosophy and religion (i.e., Buddhism, Confucianism, and Daoism). During graduate school and the first few years after finishing his doctorate, he worked primarily with Korean Seon Buddhism, concentrating on the works of the late Goryeo monk Gihwa 己和 (1376–1433). For most of the ensuing decade, his work was focused on the writings of the Silla scholar-monk Wonhyo 元曉 (617–686), a journey that ended up leading him deeply into the study of Yogācāra and Tathāgatagarbha thought, and the role of the “two hindrances” soteriological model in Mahāyāna Buddhism. During 2010–2015, his main project was an investigation of the topic of “views” (i.e., worldviews, mindsets, opinions, etc., Skt. dṛṣṭi; Ch. 見)—taking Buddhism as a point of departure, entering into related approaches found in Western epistemology, psychology, political and cognitive science. In connection with this, he also investigated the meaning and role of faith (信) in Mahāyāna Buddhism. He has recently returned to working on a topic that he was working on earlier in his career: the origins, permutations, and applications of the essence-function (Ch. ti-yong 體用) paradigm in the three traditions of Buddhism, Confucianism, and Daoism.