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Wendi Adamek


Annual Fellow 2018-19


Wendi L. Adamek is Associate Professor in the Department of Classics and Religion at the University of Calgary and holder of the Numata Chair in Buddhist Studies. Her research interests include medieval Chinese Buddhism, Buddhist archeology, and living systems theory. Her forthcoming book Practicescape: The Buddhists of Baoshan centers on a seventh-century community in Henan, China. Previous publications include The Mystique of Transmission: On an Early Chan History and its Contexts (AAR Award for Excellence in Textual Studies, 2008) and The Teachings of Master Wuzhu (2011). Born in Hawai’i, she earned her degrees at Stanford University and has held research fellowships at Kyoto University (Fulbright), Peking University (NEH, Fulbright), the Stanford Humanities Center, and the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton.

Research Activities: 

Representing Nirvāṇa in Sixth-Century China
The Buddhist doctrine of tathāgatagarbha (buddha-matrix), positing universal potential buddha-nature, could be considered to challenge the fundamental Buddhist teaching of anātman (non-self). This has been a recurring topic in tathāgatagarbha theorization since its inception in the early centuries of the Common Era. The aim of this book project is to examine selected sixth-century Chinese contexts for the development of tathāgatagarbha influenced soteriology, using the lens of the Nirvāṇa-sūtra characterization of nirvāṇa as permanence, joy, self, and purity (chang le wo jing 常樂我凈). I examine hermeneutical and devotional representations based on the Nirvāṇa-sūtra, demonstrating that such representations were an integral part of evolving buddha-nature discourse in China. The classic Buddhist doctrine of non-self, though it would seem to be disjunctive, was actively assimilated into these representations and interpretations.

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