Robert Sharf is D. H. Chen Distinguished Professor of Buddhist Studies in the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of California, Berkeley. He received a B.A. in Religious Studies (1979) and an M.A. in Chinese Studies (1981) from the University of Toronto, and a Ph.D. in Buddhist Studies from the University of Michigan (1990). His graduate work included study in Japan; he was a Research Fellow at the Institute for Research into the Humanities (Jinbun Kagaku Kenkyūjo) at Kyoto University, and also conducted fieldwork at Kōfukuji in Nara (1985-87).
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.