Jimmy Yu

Sheng Yen Professor of Chinese Buddhism
Dr. Aline Kalbian

Contact Information

History and Ethnography of Religions
Office Location
120D Dodd Hall
Resume / CV
Office Hours

Mondays, 10-11am and by appointment


FSU Buddhist Studies

Jimmy Yu (Ph.D. '08, Princeton University, Department of Religion) teaches courses in Chinese religious traditions, with an emphasis in Buddhism and Daoism. His research interests include the history of the body in Chinese religions, Buddhist material culture, Chan/Zen Buddhisms, and popular religious movements within the broader context of fifteenth to seventeenth centuries China. Dr. Yu is also a grant committee advisor of the Sheng Yen Education Foundation Grant for Ph.D. Dissertation Research on Modern Chinese Buddhism, the editor for the Journal of Chinese Buddhist Studies, and the Sheng Yen Series in Chinese Buddhism through Columbia University Press.


His first book, Sanctity and Self-Inflicted Violence in Chinese Religions, 1500-1700 (Oxford University Press, 2012), is a groundbreaking contribution to scholarship on bodily practices in late imperial China that explores self-inflicted violence as an essential and sanctioned part of premodern Chinese culture. Specifically, the book examines the practices of blood writing, filial body-slicing, chastity mutilations, ritual exposure, and self-immolation, and argues that each practice was public and scripted, aiming to exercise a moral-religious power that negotiate sociopolitical relations. Self-inflicted violence was intelligible both to the person doing the act and to those who viewed and interpreted it, regardless of the various religions of the period.


His second book, Reimagining Chan Buddhism: Sheng Yen and the Creation of the Dharma Drum Lineage of Chan (Routledge Studies in Critical Buddhism, 2021), is the first socio-intellectual history of the Dharma Drum Lineage of Chan (Zen), a new lineage of Buddhism founded by the late Chinese Buddhist cleric, Sheng Yen (1931–2009). It presents a historically and culturally embodied approach to the formation of Buddhist doctrine and Chan (Zen) practice that challenges the received academic and popular image of Chan Buddhism as a meditation school that bypasses scriptural learning. Using Sheng Yen’s doctrinal classification (Chn. panjiao) chart as an example, the book shows Sheng Yen’s Chan as the summum bonum of Han transmission of Chinese Buddhism (Chn. Hanchuan fojiao)


Research and Teaching Interests

  • Late Ming period bodily practices
  • Death rituals and salvation in East Asian religions
  • Buddhist material culture
  • Doctrinal developments in Chinese Buddhism
  • Systems of Buddhist meditation practice
  • Chan/Zen Buddhisms


Fall 2023
  • REL2350: Religions of East Asia
  • REL3349: Buddhist Meditation
Spring 2024
  • REL3345: Chan/Zen Buddhism
  • REL3351/RLG5305: Japanese Religions