SOAS University of London

Centre of Buddhist Studies

Professor Wendi Adamek

  • Research


Wendi Adamek
Centre of Buddhist Studies

Research Associate

Professor Wendi Adamek
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Born in Hawai’i, Dr. Adamek received her undergraduate, M.A., and Ph.D. degrees from Stanford University. She was a Fulbright Research Fellow at Kyoto University (1990) and Peking University (2004), and a Stanford Humanities Center Fellow (2009). Most recently, she was awarded membership for 2015-2016 in the School of Historical Studies at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton. She has taught Chinese Religions and East Asian Buddhism at the University of Iowa, Barnard College, Columbia University, and the University of Sydney. She is now Associate Professor and Numata Chair in Buddhist Studies in the Department of Classics and Religion at the University of Calgary.


Current Project

Nirvāṇa as Permanence, Joy, Self, and Purity in a Medieval Chinese Buddhist Commentary

This project centers on a localized Chinese context for the development of tathāgatagarbha (buddha matrix)-influenced soteriology. The Nirvāṇa-sūtra characterization of nirvāṇa as permanence, joy, self, and purity (chang le wo jing) is examined from the perspective of the sixth-century Dasheng yi zhang (Chapters on the Meaning of the Mahāyāna), which provides an example of the hermeneutics through which the rubric chang le wo jing was understood and adapted by clerics of the Northern dynasties. The Dasheng yi zhang is attributed to Huiyuan (523-592) of Jingying  temple in Chang’an, one of the most prominent masters active in the Northern Qi, Northern Zhou, and Sui dynasties. Huiyuan’s work shows a synthesis of two of the “Treatise” schools, the Dilun (*Daśabhūmikasūtropadeśa) and Shelun (*Mahāyāna-samparigraha-śāstra), enabling in-depth exploration of theories of buddha-nature and buddha-bodies in this important intellectual milieu. Working intratextually, I explore the significance of the rubric within a network of associated concepts. Working intertextually, I draw on studies linking different kinds of texts, including stelae, memorial and votive inscriptions, liturgies and verse, and the more traditional repertoire of scriptures, hagiographies, commentaries, and catalogues. I approach this topic and its instantiations not only as important historical and cultural artifacts, but as part of ongoing investigation into the nature of agency and efficacy.