Word definition: en (Chinese: 禪; pinyin: Chán; Korean: 선, translit. Seon) is a school of Mahayana Buddhism that originated in China during the Tang dynasty as Chan Buddhism. It was strongly influenced by Taoism, and developed as a distinct school of Chinese Buddhism. From China, Chan Buddhism spread south to Vietnam, northeast to Korea and east to Japan, where it became known as Seon Buddhism and Japanese Zen, respectively. (Wikipedia)
Etymology: school of Mahayana Buddhism, 1727, from Japanese, from Chinese ch’an, ultimately from Sanskrit dhyana “thought, meditation,” from PIE root *dheie- “to see, look” (source also of Greek sema “sign, mark, token”). As an adjective from 1881.
Technical description: A school of Mahayana Buddhism that asserts that enlightenment can be attained through meditation, self-contemplation, and intuition rather than through faith and devotion and that is practiced mainly in China, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam. Also called Zen Buddhism. (Wikipedia)
Zen, Chinese Chan, Korean Sŏn, also spelled Seon, Vietnamese Thien, important school of East Asian Buddhism that constitutes the mainstream monastic form of Mahayana Buddhism in China, Korea, and Vietnam and accounts for approximately 20 percent of the Buddhist temples in Japan. The word derives from the Sanskrit dhyana, meaning “meditation.” Central to Zen teaching is the belief that awakening can be achieved by anyone but requires instruction in the proper forms of spiritual cultivation by a master. (Encyclopaedia Britannica)
Relevance of the concept: Zen is an experiential practice which aims to give direct understanding and insight into Buddha nature through meditation practice and learning with an expert teacher.
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