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Fazang (Chinese: 法藏; pinyin: Fǎzàng; Wade–Giles: Fa-tsang) (643–712) was the third of the five patriarchs of the Huayan school of Mahayana Buddhism. He was an important and influential philosopher, so much so that it has been claimed that he "was in fact the real creator of what is now known as Hua-yen." Fazang's ancestors came from Sogdia, a major center for trade along the Silk Road (modern Uzbekistan and Tajikistan), but he was born in the Tang capital of Chang'an (now Xi'an), where his family had become culturally Chinese.
In his youth, Fazang assisted Xuanzang in translating Buddhist works from Sanskrit into Chinese, but later became a disciple of Zhiyan, the second patriarch of the Huayan school. Another disciple of Zhiyan during the same period was the Korean Buddhist Uisang, who went on to found Hwaeom, the Korean branch of Huayan. Fazang and Uisang became good friends, and after Uisang returned to Korea, Fazang wrote him a letter expressing his admiration and affection. One of the major intellectual influences on Fazang was the Awakening of Faith in the Mahayana, particularly its doctrine of the tathagatagarbha "womb of the Buddha", and his commentary on it "has been accepted as the final authority for a correct understanding of the text." In interpreting The Awakening of Faith in Mahayana, Fazang frequently quotes with approval the interpretation of the Korean Buddhist Wonhyo. Many scholars have also observed the influence of Taoism on Chinese Buddhism in general and Fazang's thought in particular. Finally, some claim that Fazang drew inspiration from the Yijing.
Fazang is said to have authored over a hundred volumes of essays and commentaries, but two of his works in particular are among the most celebrated Huayan texts: "On the Golden Lion" and "The Rafter Dialogue." The former essay is based on a lecture on Buddhism that Fazang gave to Empress Wu Zetian. The Empress was having trouble understanding the subtle views of Huayan, so Fazang drew an analogy, comparing the relationship between the shape of a lion statue and the gold of which it is composed to the relationship between the conditioned things that exist and the underlying reality of which all are a part. "On the Golden Lion" may be found in the Taishō Tripiṭaka, where it is text 1881, and is accompanied by the Song dynasty commentary of Cheng Qian. In The Rafter Dialogue, Fazang defends the doctrine of the interdependent existence of all entities, using the relationship between a rafter and the other parts of a building as an analogy. The Rafter Dialogue is a portion of a longer, systematic treatise, Paragraphs on the Doctrine of Difference and Identity of the One Vehicle of Huayan (Chinese: 華嚴一乘教分齊章), which may be found in the Taishō Tripiṭaka, where it is text 1866.
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