Khyentse Foundation is pleased to announce the winner of Outstanding PhD Dissertations in Buddhist Studies for Asia. Wenli Fan of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, was unanimously selected by the KF Dissertation Award Committee for her dissertation, Action and Its Results: A Study Based on Śāntarakita and Kamalaśīla.

Wenli Fan and her supervisor, Professor Yao Zhihua, of The Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Wenli’s dissertation presents the views of the orthodox Indian schools that endorse the existence of causal activity and examines how Śāntarakṣita establishes the idea of non-activity by discussing his objection to causal activity. In addition, she briefly investigates the history of the concept of non-activity in Buddhist philosophy, showing that Śāntarakṣita contributed to this view by explicitly spelling it out and providing a detailed argument for it.


The US$8,000 award is presented every two years to the most outstanding PhD dissertation in the field of Buddhist Studies written in Asia during the previous two academic years. The dissertation must be based on original research in the relevant primary language, and it should significantly advance understanding of the subject or Buddhist scriptures studied.


“Wenli’s dissertation contributes further understanding about Śāntarakṣita’s Tattvasamgraha from another important aspect, which is the topic of cause and result,” said Professor Liu Kuowei, associate research fellow, National Palace Museum, Taiwan, a member of the KF Dissertation Award committee. “Regarding this important but not much-studied Mahayana treatise, previous scholars had done some studies on other topics, such as on topic of the Sarvajña (all-knowing). This dissertation did a good study for deciphering and translating the original Sanskrit content. It laid a solid fundamental work for future studies on this text.”


“The thesis utilizes first-hand material, and draws our attention to Śāntarakṣita’s ideas about karma theory, clearly showing his thoughts’ value on both Buddhism and philosophy,” said Professor Saerji, associate professor at Peking University, and member of the KF Dissertation Award committee. “The annotated translation is also useful.”


“I feel honored to receive this year’s Khyentse Foundation award,” said Wenli. “For scholars who are just starting their academic journey like me, this award not only provides financial support, it also helps to confirm the value of our studies, as well as our choice of an academic life. The kindness and wisdom of the contributors will no doubt be paid back by the improvement of Buddhist studies.”


Professor Yao Zhihua, associate professor in The Chinese University of Hong Kong’s Philosophy Department, was Wenli’s supervisor and nominated the dissertation. To read Wenli’s full dissertation, please email the dissertation award coordinator.


Khyentse Foundation sponsors a similar award for dissertations written in Europe. Accredited institutions that offer PhD programs in Buddhist Studies or Religious Studies in Europe, including the UK, are invited to nominate one dissertation that was completed during the academic years 2016-2018. Nominations will be accepted from October 1 through December 31, 2018.