Ernest Billings (Billy) Brewster specializes in Chinese Buddhism and Philosophy, with a strong secondary interest in Classical South Asian Religion and Philosophy. His current book-length project examines the investigation undertaken by Xuanzang (602–667 C.E.), the prolific translator and peripatetic scholar-monk of China’s Tang Dynasty (618-907), and his translation team, into the nature of dying. It finds that within their exegeses and translations of the Indic Abhidharma and Yogācāra Buddhist texts, Xuanzang and his collaborators restore the Buddhist tenets of no-self, karma, and reincarnation, and provide the doctrinal basis for deathbed rituals that are practiced across East Asia today. Recently, Billy has also published on theoretical debates on Yogācāra Buddhist doctrines of intersubjectivity and “same world” in the context of Chinese Philosophy under the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). More broadly, Billy’s research interests include the history of Buddhist texts and ideas, especially in China and India, and the transcultural processes by which Buddhism developed in China. As a native of Brooklyn, NY, USA, Billy has studied at Princeton University (BA), National Chengchi University, Taipei, Taiwan (MA) and Harvard University (PhD).


PhD, East Asian Languages and Civilizations (Harvard, 2018)
MA, Religious Studies (National Chengchi University, 2011)
BA, History (Princeton, 2008)

Winter 2018

ASIA382 Buddhism in China Sections

History, thought, and practices of Chinese Buddhism from its beginnings until the twentieth century.

Winter 2018

ASIA385 Chan/Zen Buddhism: Doctrine and Practice Sections

The history, doctrines, and practices of Chan Buddhism, particularly the profound influence of Chan Buddhism on various aspects of East Asian culture.

Winter 2018

ASIA250 Introduction to Buddhism Sections

Origins, basic teachings, development of Theravada, Mahayana, and Tantric traditions, historical spread first through Asia and later the world, and Buddhism in contemporary societies.