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Dr. Richard K. Payne

Richard Payne

Dean, Institute of Buddhist Studies
Yehan Numata Professor of Japanese Buddhist Studies

B.A. and M.A., San Jose State University
M.A., Nyingma Institute
Ph.D. Graduate Theological Union


Richard K. Payne, Dean of the Institute of Buddhist Studies, grew up in the San José area where there is a large and vibrant Japanese American community centered on the San Jose Buddhist Betsuin. At San José State University his interests came to focus on modern Continental philosophy and psychology, completing his studies for both a BA (Philosophy-Psychology, 1972) and an MA (Philosophy, 1975) there. He also pursued studies at the Nyingma Institute, Berkeley, receiving an MA (Buddhist Studies, 1981), with a thesis on the concept of apoha in the Buddhist epistemologists (published, Journal of Indian Philosophy, 1987).


In order to continue work on Buddhism, he entered the doctoral program in History and Phenomenology of Religion at the Graduate Theological Union. His dissertation research was on the votive fire offering (Skt. homa, Jpn. goma) in the Shingon tradition, and included training for the Shingon priesthood on Mt. Koya in Japan. He graduated in 1985 (dissertation published, Sata Pitaka series, 1991), at which point he began teaching for the Institute of Buddhist Studies.


In 1994 he was appointed to his current position. He continues to be active in the fields of Japanese Buddhist studies, ritual studies, and the cognitive study of religion. He also serves as editor-in-chief of the Institute’s annual journal, Pacific World, and is chair of the Editorial Committee of the Pure Land Buddhist Studies Series.


Dr. Payne is also a member of the American Academy of Religion, International Association of Buddhist Studies, and an officer of both the North American District of the International Association of Shin Buddhist Studies, and the Society for Tantric Studies.


View Dean Payne’s website for more about his publications and scholarly work.

Contact Richard Payne via email.