FAZANG (643–712), also known as Xianshou; third patriarch and systematizer of the Huayan school, a Chinese Buddhist tradition centered around exegesis of the Avataṃsaka Sūtra. His surname, Kang, indicates that his family was originally from Samarkand in Central Asia. Fazang was a son of Mi, a high-ranking army officer in the Tang dynasty. When he was sixteen years old he burned off one of his fingers as an offering to the Buddha before an Aśoka stupa in which relics of the Buddha were enshrined. After seeking without success for a satisfactory teacher, he entered Mount Taibei, where he studied Mahāyāna Buddhism in seclusion. Some years later, hearing that his parents were ill, he returned home to Chang'an, where Zhiyan (later reckoned the second Huayan patriarch) was lecturing on the Huayan jing (Mahāvaipulya-buddhagaṇḍavyūha Sūtra) at the Yunhua Si. Yan Zhaoyin, Fazang's biographer, described the meeting of these two as a "smooth acceptance, like pouring water into a vessel, a harmonious condition compared to mingling milk and water." Subsequent to this encounter, Fazang became Zhiyan's disciple.
In 668, when his master Zhiyan passed away, Fazang was still a layman. When he was twenty-eight, Empress Wu Zetian built a new temple named Taiyuan Si in memory of her mother, Yongguo. It was at this time that Fazang was ordained and became a monk at this temple, probably at the empress's request. In 684, he met Divākara, a monk from middle India, at Xitaiyuan Si and studied Śīlabhadra's and Jñānaprabha's jiaopan (classification of Buddhist teachings). The next year he joined with Divākara for the translation of that portion of the Gaṇḍavyūha (an independent sūtra comprising the last chapter of the Huayan jing ) that was missing from Buddhabhadra's translation of the text. He also frequently assisted such excellent translators as Devaprajñā, Śikṣānanda, and Yijing.
Fazang is best known as the systematizer and propagator of Huayan Buddhism; he is said to have given more than thirty lectures on the Huayan jing. His principal works are (1) Huayan jing zhigui (The essential meaning of the Huayan jing; T.D. no. 1871); (2) Huayan wujiao zhang (Outline of the Huayan Five Teachings Doctrine; T.D. no. 1866); (3) Huayan jing tanxuan ji (Plumbing the profound import of the Huayan jing; T.D. no. 1733); (4) Dasheng qixinlun yiji (A commentary on the Awakening of Faith; T.D. no. 1846); (5) Panruoxin jing lüeshu (A brief commentary on the Prajñāpāramitāhṛdaya Sūtra; T.D. no. 1712); (6) Rulengqie xinxuan yi (The essential meaning of the Laṅkāvatāra Sūtra; T.D. no. 1790); (7) Fanwan jing pusa jieben shu (A commentary on the bodhisattva precepts in the Brahmajāla Sūtra; T.D. no. 1813); and (8) Huayan jing chuanji (On the tradition of study of the Huayan jing; T.D. no. 2073).
According to legend, Fazang was a miracle worker who sought merit for the people. One of his miracles allegedly caused both Emperor Zhongzong and his successor Ruizong to receive the bodhisattva precepts and provide government support to establish five temples for the propagation of Huayan Buddhism. When Fazang died in November of 712, the emperor Xuanzong bestowed upon him the honorary title of Hongluqing, director of palace ceremonies.
Fazang is credited with three major advances in Huayan doctrine. The first is his classification of Buddhist teachings in "five grades and ten qualities." Through this classification Fazang tried to show that Huayan Buddhism should be regarded as the acme of Buddhist teachings, superior even to the Faxiang (Yogācāra) school newly imported by Xuanzang. The second achievement is his advocacy of a doctrine known as sanxing tongyiyi ("the original way of explaining the doctrine of the three kinds of existence"). Using this theory, he insisted that ultimate truth and deluded consciousness are not mutually exclusive and that consequently even deluded consciousness can penetrate into the very root of truth. Fazang's third achievement is his clarification of the ultimate modality of pratītya-samutpāda ("dependent origination"). That is to say, Fazang elaborated upon Zhiyan's philosophy of fajie yuanqi ("pratītya-samutpāda in the True Realm") so as to emphasize that matter was no different from the truth (lishi wu'ai). According to Fazang, when seen from the viewpoint of the Buddha, all phenomena not only depend upon each other but also enter into each other infinitely (shishi wu'ai).
Chan, Wing-tsit. A Source Book in Chinese Philosophy. Princeton, 1963. Pages 406–424 include a brief survey of Huayan thought and translations of the Jinshizi zhang (complete), attributed to Fazang, and two chapters from his Huayan yihai bomen.
Kamata Shigeo. Chūgoku kegonshisōshi kenkyū. Tokyo, 1965. In the chapter entitled "Bushūōchō ni okeru kegon shisō no keisei" the author discusses the political and intellectual background of Fazang's thought.
Kimura Kiyotaka. "Hōzō no kegon kyōgaku." Risō 606 (1983): 64–86. Treats the role of Fazang's understanding of pratītya-samutpāda in the history of the development of Huayan thought.
Yoshizu Yoshihide. "Hōzōden no kenkyū." Komazawa daigaku bukkyōgakubu kenkyū kiyō 37 (1983): 168–193. The most recent and comprehensive study of the life of Fazang.
Hartshorne, Charles. "Sankara, Nagarjuna, and Fazang, with Some Western Analogues." In Interpreting Across Boundaries: New Essays in Comparative Philosophy, edited by Gerald James Larson and Eliot Deutsch, pp. 98–115. Princeton, 1988.
Shim, Jae-ryong. "Faith and Practice in Huayan Buddhism: A Critique of Fazang (643–712) by Li T'ung-hsuan (646–740)." In Buddhist and Taoist Practice in Medieval Chinese Society, edited by David W. Chappell, pp. 109–124. Honolulu, 1987.
Wright, Dale. "The 'Thought of Enlightenment' in Fazang's Huayan Buddhism." Eastern Buddhist 33, no. 2 (2001): 97–106.
Kimura Kiyotaka (1987)
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