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Book: Buddhism in Five Minutes

Chapter: 41. What is Zen Buddhism?

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.40780


The term “zen” originated from the pronunciation of djan which became chan in Chinese, deriving from dhyāna in Sanskrit or jhāna in Pali, meaning a state of “absorption” in the practice of Buddhist meditation. Chan is a school of Mahayana Buddhism, the roots of which lie in sixth-century China, and which spread to other countries in East Asia after the eighth century. It was introduced to Japan as Zen Buddhism in the twelfth to thirteenth centuries by two Japanese monks, Eisai and Dogen, who traveled to China to study the Buddhist scriptures and methods of practice.

Chapter Contributors

  • Hiroko Kawanami ( - hirokokawanami) 'Lancaster University'