Medicine is central to the religion of Buddhism, and Buddhism has been an vitally important vehicle for transnational exchange of medicine globally. In all periods and all locations across the world, Buddhism has provided individuals with tools to frame and understand illness, has shaped health-seeking behaviors in conscious and unconscious ways, and has offered a range of popular therapies and institutional structures for dealing with the sick. Comprising the major focus of my scholarly work, the relationship between Buddhism and medicine is explored in detail in the materials below….


Recorded lectures & podcasts

Multimedia & documentary films

The Jivaka Project Philadelphia is a collaborative project with filmmaker and historian Lan A. Li. This is a multimedia ethnography exploring the role of Buddhist institutions, practices, and cultural orientations in the American healthcare landscape between 2015 and 2020. The website encompasses a series of professionally produced documentary films in addition to photos, audio, and other data captured by student researchers at about 50 institutions in the city. Covering various intersections between Buddhism and health, these are intended for use in the classroom and are accompanied by background information and suggestions for further readings. 

Scholarly monographs & edited volumes

  • 2024, Buddhism and Healing in the Modern World (Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2024), co-edited with Kin Cheung and Susannah Deane: selection of essays on the entanglements of Buddhism and healing in modern and contemporary global contexts.
  • 2022, A Global History of Buddhism & Medicine (New York: Columbia University Press): Monograph summarizing a decade of research on Buddhist medicine, and accompanying the 2017 and 2020 anthologies.
  • 2020, Buddhist Healing in Medieval China and Japan (Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press), co-edited with Andrew Macomber: Edited collection of essays with local and global perspectives on Buddhist healing in medieval East Asia.
  • 2020, Buddhism & Medicine: An Anthology of Modern and Contemporary Sources (New York: Columbia University Press): Edited collection of 35 chapters by 31 contributors introducing translations of texts and ethnographic transcripts about Buddhist healing in the modern era.
  • 2017, Buddhism & Medicine: An Anthology of Premodern Sources (New York: Columbia University Press): Edited collection of 62 chapters by 57 contributors introducing translations of texts about Buddhism and medicine covering much of premodern Asia.
  • 2016, Traditional Thai Medicine: Buddhism, Animism, Yoga, AyurvedaRevised edition (Bangkok: White Lotus Press): Brief introduction to history and contemporary practice of traditional Thai medicine, with emphasis on cross-cultural influences and medical pluralism. (First edition: Hohm Press, 2007.)
  • 2014, Translating Buddhist Medicine in Medieval China (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press): Significantly revised version of my PhD dissertation, focusing on the translations strategies/tactics utilized in the introduction and assimilation of Indian medicine in medieval China.

Selected scholarly articles & chapters

(To download PDFs that are not linked below, see my page)

  • 2024, “American Buddhism and Healthcare.” In Scott Mitchell and Ann Gleig (eds.), Oxford Handbook of American Buddhism, pp. 318–34. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • 2023, “‘Meditation Sickness’ in Medieval Chinese Buddhism and the Contemporary West.” Journal of Buddhist Ethics 30: 169–211. URL:
  • 2022, “Beyond Mindfulness: Buddhism & Health in the US.” Pacific World Fourth Series 3. URL:
  • 2021, “Buddhist Healthcare in Philadelphia: An Ethnographic Experiment in Student-Centered, Engaged, and Inclusive Pedagogy.” Religions 12.6.
  • 2021, “The Role of Buddhist Studies in Fostering Metadisciplinary Conversations and Improving Pedagogical Collaborations.” Religions 12.1. 10.3390/rel12010001
  • 2019, “Varieties of Buddhist Healing in Multiethnic Philadelphia,” Religions 10.48.
  • 2018, “A Missing Link in the History of Chinese Medicine: A Research Note on the Medical Contents in the Chinese Buddhist Taishō Tripiṭaka,”East Asian Science, Medicine, and Technology 47: 93–119.
  • 2018, “‘This Fathom-Long Body’: Bodily Materiality & Ascetic Ideology in Medieval Chinese Buddhist Scriptures,” Bulletin of the History of Medicine 92: 237–60.
  • 2018, “Healing and/or Salvation? The Relationship Between Religion and Medicine in Medieval Chinese Buddhism,” Working Paper Series of the HCAS: Multiple Secularities — Beyond the West, Beyond Modernities 4. [Open Access]
  • 2017, “Medicine in the Chinese Buddhist Canon: Selected Translations.” Asian Medicine 12.1/2: 79–294. (Co-authored with four other contributors.)
  • 2017, “Cultural Associations of Water in Early Chinese and Indian Religion and Medicine,” Special Issue: Water and Asia, Education About Asia 22.2: 23–28.
  • 2017, “Honoring the Teachers, Constructing the Tradition: The Role of History and Religion in the Waikrū Ceremony of a Thai Traditional Medicine Hospital,” in Hans Pols, Michele Thompson, and John Harley Warner (eds.), Translating the Body: Medical Education in Southeast Asia (Singapore: National University of Singapore Press).
  • 2015, “Reexamining the Categories and Canons of Chinese Buddhist Healing,” Journal of Chinese Buddhist Studies 28: 35–66.
  • 2014, “Medicine,” Oxford Bibliographies Online: Buddhism. Last update: 2018. DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195393521-0140 [Link]
  • 2013, “Fields of Merit, Harvests of Health: Some Notes on the Role of Medical Karma in the Popularization of Buddhism in Early Medieval China,” Asian Philosophy 23.4: 341–9.
  • 2011, “Indian Influence on Chinese Medicine through Buddhism,” in World History Encyclopedia, Oxford: ABC-CLIO.
  • 2009, “The Buddhist Medicine King in Literary Context: Reconsidering an Early Medieval Example of Indian influence on Chinese Medicine and Surgery,” History of Religions 48.3: 183-210.

Deprecated articles

(Please cite the updated versions instead.)

  • 2020, “Countercurrents and Counterappropriations: The Role of Mindfulness in Traditional Korean Medicine,” Asian Medicine 15.2: 291–300. [Incorporated into my chapter in the 2024 volume edited by Salguero, Cheung, and Deane.]
  • 2018, “Buddhist Medicine and its Circulation.” In Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Asian History. Ed. David Ludden. New York: Oxford University Press. [This is essentially a summary of my 2022 book Buddhism & Medicine: A Global History.]
  • 2015, “Toward a Global History of Buddhism and Medicine,” Buddhist Studies Review 32.1: 35–61. [Revised version appears in Buddhism & Medicine: A Global History, particularly chapter 5.]
  • 2014, “Buddhism & Medicine in East Asian History,” Religion Compass 8.8: 239–50. [Revised partial version appears in the Buddhism & Medicine: An Anthology of Premodern Sources, Introduction.]
  • 2013, “‘On Eliminating Disease’: Translations of the Medical Chapter from the Chinese Versions of the Sutra of Golden Light,” eJournal of Indian Medicine 6 (1): 21–43. [Revised version appears in Buddhism & Medicine: An Anthology of Premodern Sources, ch. 4.]
  • 2012, “‘Treating Illness’: Translation of a Chapter from a Medieval Chinese Buddhist Meditation Manual by Zhiyi (538–597),” Asian Medicine: Tradition and Modernity 7.2: 461–73. [Revised version appears in Buddhism & Medicine: An Anthology of Premodern Sources, ch. 37.]
  • 2010–11, “Mixing Metaphors: Translating the Indian Medical Doctrine Tridoṣa in Chinese Buddhist Sources,” Asian Medicine: Tradition and Modernity 6.1: 55–74. [Revised version appears in Translating Buddhist Medicine in Medieval China, ch. 2.]
  • 2010, “‘A Flock of Ghosts Bursting Forth and Scattering’: Healing Narratives in a Sixth-Century Chinese Buddhist Hagiography,” East Asian Science Technology & Medicine 32: 89–120. [Revised version appears in Buddhist Healing in Medieval China and Japan, ch. 1]

Book reviews

  • 2019, “The Mind Cure?,” essay review of three recent scholarly books in Tricycle: The Buddhist Review (Fall issue).
  • 2018, Review of David L. McMahan and Erik Braun (eds.). Meditation, Buddhism, and Science. Oxford University Press, 2017. In Reading Religion,
  • 2016, Review of Stuart Young, Conceiving the Indian Buddhist Patriarchs in China, Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press. In Numen 63: 607–11.
  • 2016, Review of Paul Copp. The Body Incantatory: Spells and the Ritual Imagination in Medieval Chinese Buddhism, New York: Columbia University Press, 2014. In Religious Studies Review 42.2.
  • 2016, Review of Janet Gyatso. Being Human in a Buddhist World: An Intellectual History of Medicine in Early Modern Tibet, New York: Columbia University Press, 2015. In Bulletin of the History of Medicine 90.1.
  • 2015, Review of Vargas-O’Bryan, Ivette, and Zhou Xun, Disease, Religion, and Healing in Asia: Collaborations and Collisions, London and New York: Routledge, 2015. In History of Science in South Asia 3.
  • 2013, Review of TJ Hinrichs and Linda L. Barnes (eds.), Chinese Medicine and Healing: An Illustrated History, Cambridge and London: Belknap Press, 2013. In Jour-nal of Asian Studies 72.4.
  • 2013, Review of James McHugh, Sandalwood and Carrion: Smell in Indian Religion and Culture, New York: Oxford University Press. In Bulletin of the History of Medicine, 87.2.
  • 2012, Review of Catherine Despeux (ed.) 2010, Médecine, religion, et société dans la Chine médiévale: Étude de manuscrits chinois de Dunhuang et de Turfan, Paris: Collège de France, Institut des Hautes Études Chinoises. In Asian Medicine 7.2.
  • 2009, Review of Laila Williamson and Serinity Young, Body and Spirit: Tibetan Medical Paintings, New York: University of Washington Press, 2009. In Bulletin of the History of Medicine, 83.3.
  • 2009, Review of Linda L. Barnes, Needles, Herbs, Gods and Ghosts: China, Healing and the West to 1848, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2005. In American Ethnologist, 36.4.
  • 2007, Review of Vivienne Lo and Christopher Cullen (eds.), Medieval Chinese Medicine: The Dunhuang Medical Manuscripts, London and New York: RoutledgeCurzon, 2005. In Medical History, 51.1.
  • 2006, Review of Donald S. Lopez, The Madman’s Middle Way: Reflections on the Reality of the Tibetan Monk Gendun Chopel, Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 2006. In Asian Studies Review, 30.4.
  • 2006, Review of Srinivas Aravamudan, Guru English: South Asian Religion in a Cosmopolitan Language, Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2006. In Asian Studies Review, 30.3.
  • 2006, Review of Shantosh Jatrana, Mika Toyota, and Brenda S.A. Yeoh, eds., Migration and Health in Asia, London and New York: Routledge, 2005. In Asian Studies Review, 30.2.