school of Mahayana Buddhism

Zen (Chinese: 禪; pinyin: Chán; Sanskrit: ध्यान, romanized: dhyāna; Japanese: 禅, romanized: zen; Korean: 선, romanized: Seon; Vietnamese: Thiền) is the Japanese term (and the most commonly used term in English) for the principle of dhyāna in Buddhism, and for Zen Buddhism, a school of Mahāyāna Buddhism which originated in China during the Tang dynasty (as Chan Buddhism, Chinese: 禪宗; pinyin: Chánzōng). Chinese Chan Buddhism developed into various other schools, including many Japanese Zen schools, to which the term "zen" in English sometimes refers. The Chan School was strongly influenced by Taoist philosophy, especially Neo-Daoist thought, and developed as a distinct school of Chinese Buddhism. Chan Buddhism spread from China south to Vietnam to become Vietnamese Thiền, northeast to Korea to become Seon Buddhism, and east to Japan to become Japanese Zen.The term Zen is derived from the Japanese pronunciation of the Middle Chinese word 禪 (chán), an abbreviation of 禪那 (chánnà), which is a Chinese transliteration of the Sanskrit word of dhyāna ("meditation"). Zen emphasizes rigorous self-restraint, meditation-practice, insight into the nature of mind (見性, Ch. jiànxìng, Jp. kensho, "perceiving the true nature") and nature of things, and the personal expression of this insight in daily life, especially for the benefit of others. As such, it de-emphasizes mere knowledge of sutras and doctrine and favors direct understanding through spiritual practice and interaction with an accomplished teacher or Master. The teachings of Zen include various sources of Mahāyāna thought, especially Yogachara, the Tathāgatagarbha sūtras, the Laṅkāvatāra Sūtra, and the Huayan school, with their emphasis on Buddha-nature, totality, and the Bodhisattva-ideal. The Prajñāpāramitā literature as well as Madhyamaka thought have also been influential in the shaping of the apophatic and sometimes iconoclastic nature of Zen rhetoric.
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main subject: Zen


The Way of Zen

book by Alan Watts

author: Alan Watts


Zen at War


author: Brian Victoria


The Compass of Zen

book by Seung Sahn

author: Seungsahn


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