In preceding studies, Faxian 法詵 (718–778) has been considered as a disciple of Huiyuan 慧苑(673?–743?) who gave Chengguan 澄観 (738–839) instruction in Huayan Buddhism. In this paper, we focused on Faxian’s Fanwang jing shu 梵網経疏, in the process of examining his thought about the three categories of pure precepts 三聚浄戒 and the essence of the precepts 戒体.
Faxian interprets the precepts of the Fanwang jing 梵網経 as the three categories of pure precepts. This interpretation unifies the discussion in Fazang’s Fanwang jing Pusajieben shu 梵網経菩薩戒本疏. In addition, Faxian classifies all the doctrines of Buddhism into five classes of teachings, and assigns the Fanwang jing to the lineage called Zangxing yuanqi zang 蔵性縁起宗, which contains the thought of Tathāgatagarbha and the Dasheng qi xin lun 大乗起信論. This example indicates his awareness, which is different from Fazang’s Fanwang jing Pusajieben shu. Faxian has an interest in the link between Tathāgatagarbha and precepts.
Faxian puts forward two aspects, visible and invisible, of the three categories of pure precepts. The visible moral law is composed of intellection 思 and the invisible moral law is composed of seeds 種子. His conclusion is nearly the same as that in Fazang’s Fanwang jing Pusajieben shu. He updates Fazang’s thought about the essence of the precepts.