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Dharma character school

Dharma-character school (Chinese: Faxiang zong) is the pejorative name for a stream of thought that represented the Indian Yogācāra (瑜伽行派) system of thought in East Asia. The movement that would eventually receive this name was initiated in China by Xuanzang (玄奘), who, on his return from China, brought with him a wagonload of the most important Consciousness-only texts.

These, with government support and many assistants, he translated into Chinese. His disciple Kuiji (窺基) wrote a number of important commentaries on the Consciousness-only texts and further developed the influence of the school in China.

The Faxiang teachings were transmitted to Korea (Beopsang) and Japan (Hossō), where they made considerable impact. Although the Faxiang zong/Beopsang chong/Hossō shū tradition would all but die out as an independent sect, its Consciousness-only teachings made a major impact on the native East Asian traditions that would later develop, most notably Tiantai, Huayan and Chan Buddhism.

The term Faxiang itself was first applied to this tradition by the Huayan thinker Fazang (寶藏), who used it to emphasize the inferiority of Faxiang teachings, which only dealt with the phenomenal appearances of the dharmas in contrast to Huayan, which dealt with the underlying nature on which such phenomenal appearances were based.

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