Zen (禅Japanese, "silent"), chán (禅/禅) in Mandarin, dhyāna in Sanskrit, jhāna in Pali, is a form of Buddhism mahāyāna which lays great stress on meditation, or "inner illumination."

The word Zen is the romanization of Japanese禅word, translation of Mandarin禅chán, itself borrowed from the Sanskrit dhyāna or rather at Pali jhāna, perfect recollection.

In french, the word Zen is also used to signify a state of tranquillity, indifference to the bustle of the world and become in everyday language an adjective synonymous with "calm".

The legend of the origin of the tradition of Zen and the lineage of his teachers back to a sermon of the Buddha Shākyamuni his disciples when they were gathered around the peak vultures, recounted in the Sūtra Lankavatara. In an attempt to explain a point of his teaching, he simply silently picking a flower of Udumbara. None of the disciples would have understood the message he was trying to convey, except Mahâkâshyapa, which would have smiled at the Buddha. It then told him to the assembly that he had sent his spiritual treasure most valuable asset. It is a forerunner of the Shan description that we lend to Bodhidharma, "not writing, teaching different [from all other], which directly affects the mind to reveal the true nature of Buddha" ( "不立文字,教外别传,直指人心,见性成佛").

List of Zen Patriarchs
List reported by the tradition of the twenty eight patriarchs of the school prior to his arrival in China:

1 Shâkyamuni 8 Bouddhanandi 15 Kânadeva 22 Manura
2 Mahâkâshyapa 9 Bouddhamitra 16 Arya Râhulata 23 Haklenayashas
3 Ananda 10 Bhikshu Parshva 17 Sanghanandi 24 Bhikshu Simha
4 Shanavâsa 11 Punyayashas 18 Sanghayashas 25 Vâshasita
5 Upagupta 12 Ashvagosha 19 Kumârata 26 Punyamitra
6 Dhritaka 13 Bhikshu Kapimala 20 Jayata 27 Prajñâtara
7 Micchaka 14 Nâgârjuna 21 Vasubandhu 28 Bodhidharma

List of the first seven patriarchs of Chinese Shan:

1. Bodhidharma 440? -528?
2. Huike 487 - 593
3. Sengcan? -- 606
4. Daoxin 580 - 651
5. Hongren 601 - 674
6. Huineng 638 - 713 (replaces 796 Shenxiu 607? -706 Of the school in the North)
7. Shenhui 670? -760? (Replaces 796 Puji 651-739 of the school in the North)

From India to China
Bodhidharma, twenty-eighth patriarch in Indian descent, came to China around 520 [ref. Required]. The texts mention the Chinese who do not agree exactly on its origin (Kânchîpuram in southern India or Persia), or on the road (happened in the West or in a port south-east). It lends a particular attachment to the Sūtra Lankavatara, and the first school established Shan is known as school Lankâ (楞伽宗).

A legend evidenced from the eleventh century to the Shaolin Monastery in the foundation awards to Bodhidharma, making it the initiator of martial arts from the Far East. However, although there is in Kerala a type of yoga offering a certain similarity with the external kung-fu, gymnastics type qigong seem to be mentioned on Chinese texts dating from the fifth century BC. J.-C., and martial arts at Mount Song preceded Bodhidharma, if he ever go there.

From China to Korea
In the ninth century, Buddhism Shan called Son in Korea, was included in Buddhism already present state since the fourth century. The Korean His practice prostration, singing, sitting meditation. It uses mantras and gong'an or kōan (Japanese name).

From Korea to Japan
From sixth in the thirteenth century, Zen Buddhism was imported from China to Japan via Korea, in successive waves. It was in the thirteenth century that the monk Dogen道元importa zen Sōtō (曹洞, Mandarin caodong), and the monk Eisai (栄西, sometimes called Yōsai) Rinzai Zen (临済, Linji Mandarin). Both schools, as in China from the Song, are still with the school obaku the landscape of Japanese Zen. This is the Rinzai Zen that will be necessary, however, at least politically in the first instance, with the introduction of the system said of the Five Mountains where five temples umbrella all others. In fact there will be ten temples, five to five to Kyoto and Kamakura, which will vary over time. The current Zen and the practice of zazen (sitting meditation practice for achieving enlightenment) were very successful in Japan and s'accompagnèrent development by the monks of several arts and technology, either directly imported from China, which is created locally by integrating elements in northern China and Korea. One example is the use of tea or simple aesthetics and skinned. Japanese Zen is also strongly influenced by Taoism, which is echoed some symbols and concepts.

Parentage China (Shan) Japanese schools:

* Sōtō relates to caodong (曹洞宗) founded by Dongshan Liangjie (洞山良价? - 869).
* Rinzai relates to the line of zhishen (智诜? -702), The second disciple of Huineng according to the monograph of the school Lankâ (楞伽人法志), through Mazu Daoyi (马祖道一? -788 ), Huaihai Baizhang (百丈怀海, Hyakujo Ekai in Japanese, 720-814), Huangbo Xiyun (黄檗希运) and Linji Yixuan (临济义玄Rinzai in Japanese Gigen? -866).

* Much later ōbaku, founded by Yinyuan Longqi (隐元隆琦, Ingen Ryuki Japanese, 1592-1613), will also trace his lineage to Huangbo Xiyun, assistant Rinzai.
* Advertising Ummon of Yunmen Wenyan (云门文偃, Ummon Daishi in Japanese, 864 - 942).

We can roughly say that the Zen Sōtō focuses on the practice of zazen (za seated and Zen meditation) and shikantaza, just sit down, while the Rinzai Zen stresses more on kōan, aporias, referred to paradoxes teaching.

Zazen is awakening (satori): the practice itself is achievement; practice and enlightenment are like the palm and the back of your hand. Just sit motionless and silent for harmony with the Buddha's enlightenment. Nevertheless, according to the logic zen, even enlightenment can not be an end in itself.

The kōan (school Rinzaï) proposals are most often absurd or paradoxical posed by the master and the disciple must dissolve (rather than solving) in the emptiness of nonsense, and, consequently, my son drown in a lack of tension and desire, that can be compared to the smooth surface of a lake reflecting the world as a mirror.

Like all versions sinisées Buddhism, Zen pertains to the entire mahâyâna which states that everyone has in itself what it takes to attain enlightenment. Some schools (tiantai, huayan) consider that everyone and everything is "Buddha Nature". The position zen, closest to the philosophical idealist yogaçara, believes that the only reality of the universe is that of consciousness; there was nothing else to discover that the true nature of his own conscience unified.

Despite the definition of "Shan" without written (in Mandarin buliwenzi不立文字) attributed to Bodhidharma, the sutras have inspired some of his teaching, some teachers have left writings, gathered disciples teaching their masters in compilations.

Among the sutras are the first Sūtra Lankavatara attached to the school yogaçara, which has contributed greatly to the idealistic philosophy of Zen, which sees the conscience the only reality. The tradition is the full text of Bodhidharma, more recently, DT Suzuki has extensively commented. The sutras "perfection of wisdom" that are Sūtra Diamond and Sūtra of Heart are also important, as Sūtra Shurangama particularly appreciated syncrétistes currents, and Samantamukha Parivarta, a chapter of the Lotus Sūtra.

Among the texts written in China during the first centuries of Shan include Sūtra of Estrade attributed to Huineng, sixth patriarch, as well as two collections of kōan, Compendium of the cliff blue (碧岩录, Mandarin Biyan read, Hekiganroku in Japanese) compound in the twelfth century, and the barrier without doors, composed at the beginning of the thirteenth century.

Read also The tea ceremony in Japan


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