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法全本姓戴。丹陽人也。端莊好靜雅勤定慧。初隨宗瑗博綜眾經。後師審隱遍遊禪觀。 晝則披文遠思。夕則歷觀妙境。大乘奧典皆能宣講。三昧祕門並為師匠。食但蔬菜衣止蔽形。訓誘未聞獎成後學。聽者修行功益甚眾。


3.8 (Tsai no.44) Fa-ch'üan

The nun Fa-ch'üan (Complete Law) (412-494) of Eastern Green Garden Convent

Fa-ch'üan, whose secular surname was Tai, was from Tan-yang [near the capital]. Of excellent conduct and fond of quietude, she persisted in her efforts to practice meditation and to acquire wisdom. At first under the direction of Seng-tsung (438-496) and Fa-yüan (409-489) she broadly inquired into the various scriptures, and afterward she widely traversed the methods of meditation and contemplation under the instruction of the masters of meditation Seng-shen (416-490) and Fa-yin. During the day she delved into the profundity of texts, and during the night she passed through the subtle realms of contemplation so that she could elucidate all the difficult writings of the Great Vehicle of Buddhism and exercise the skills of a master craftsman in the secret methods of gaining meditative tranquility.

Fa-ch'üan ate only vegetarian food and wore only what was necessary to conceal the body. She instructed and guided those who had not yet heard the Buddhist teachings, and she encouraged her own students to greater efforts. Those who heeded her words realized many benefits from their practice.

Because the [Green Garden] convent had become very large and managing it was therefore difficult, in the third year of the t'ai-shih reign period (467), the community discussed dividing it into two convents. At that time the nun Pao-ying sought to establish a meditation hall and a pagoda on the east side of the convent, and thereupon Eastern Green Garden Convent was founded. In the second year of the sheng-ming reign period (478), Pao-ying died, but, because the community in Eastern Green Garden Convent was newly established, and because there was no one in the new community capable of succeeding to the position, they chose Fa-ch'üan from Green Garden Convent to be the abbess of the new convent. Everyone was delighted with the choice, and she treated everyone fairly without any bias.

In the first year of the lung-ch'ang reign period (494), she died at the age of eighty-three.

At that time there were also in the same convent the nuns Ching-lien, Seng-lü, and Hui-hsing who were all well known for their learning.

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IATHPublished by The Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities, © Copyright 2003 by Anne Kinney and the University of Virginia