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.