about zen

In response to the question, "What is Zen?" Nan-ch’uan (748-834 AD) replied that Zen is a special transmission outside the scriptures, not dependant on writing, pointing directly to the human heart and the realization of one’s own true nature. Nan-ch’uan attributed these words to Boddhidarma whom tradition says brought Zen from India to China around 520 AD and indeed Zen traces its lineage by direct transmission in an unbroken line from the present day back to the historical Buddha himself. 

Zen is thus an ancient way, handed down to us from teacher to student over many centuries, of cultivating awareness of reality, of grappling with the question of life and death, and of actualizing the harmony between ultimate reality and the world of daily life.  

Meditation is the cornerstone on which Zen is built. The word Zen is a transliteration of the Sanskrit word dhyana, meaning concentration or meditation. Zen meditation or zazen offers a way of experiencing the fundamental nature of the universe directly for oneself. In fact, the practice of zazen itself is direct expression of one’s own true nature. 
 
Zen is also a school of Buddhism, but rather than adopting some special attitude toward the Buddha, Zen students seek what the Buddha sought, and take his quest for enlightenment as an example to follow.