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A Man Of Many Faces: Fazang'S Life Reconstructed, II

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Chapter Summary

The second part of Fazang’s life, 700-712, though by far the shorter, was nonetheless more eventful. The twelve years witnessed a series of rapid, and sometime violent, developments in politics and religion. They also came under the shadow of contemporary rulers—his most important patron Empress Wu and two of her successors. Accordingly, we will divide this part of his life into the successive reigns: the five years from 700 to 705, which accounted for the last one-third of Empress Wu’s reign; another five years, under Zhongzong; and eventually two more years under Ruizong. This chapter highlights the extraordinary esteem that Ruizong held for Fazang, which, as we emphasize, was not coincidental. As a highly political person, Fazang also cleverly capitalized on imperial favor to enhance the cause of Buddhism and in particular his own tradition.

Keywords: Buddhism; Fazang



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