What Is Zen ?
      Zen is a state of mind, a mind of calmness, stability, and clarity; a mind free of delusions and confusions; a mind in accord with true Reality. It is not a dull mind, but one full of infinite potentials. Such a mind is the source of wisdom; it is a state of true liberation and joy. To achieve the Zen state of mind, proper meditation practice is very important. Meditation helps   us to focus, calm down, become aware, and begin to see things as they are. A properly trained mind is one ready for Awakening.    

 Zen Buddhism
    There are many Schools of Buddhism. They differ not in the final objective of reaching Buddhahood, but in their emphasis on different methods of practice.

      A particularly important and influential school is Zen (also called Chan/Ch'an in Chinese). Zen's origin goes back to the Buddha. One day, an assembly gathered to hear the Buddha's Dharma talk. However, on that day, instead of speaking, the Buddha simply held up a flower and gazed at the assembly.

            No one understood the meaning except for one of Buddha's disciples, Mahakasyapa, who broke into a smile. Thereupon the Buddha said, "I have the supreme teaching, inexpressible by words and speech, the true Eye of the Dharma, the profound Mind of Nirvana, the Reality transcending all forms; which I now pass on to Mahakasyapa." Thus was the first transmission of the "mind-seal", and Mahakasyapa became known as the first Patriarch of Zen.

    The Zen lineage continued in India until the time when the 28th Patriarch, Bodhidharma, sailed to China and passed on the teaching. Bodhidharma became known as the first Patriarch of Chinese Zen. Thereafter Zen flourished in China, especially after the great Sixth Patriarch, Hui-Neng. Throughout the ages there were many enlightened masters, as well as notable Korean, Japanese, and Vietnamese masters. Today, all forms of Chan or Zen practice trace their root to Bodhidharma and Hui-Neng. 

     •  Excerpts from a talk given by Ven. Jian Hu. To view the entirety of article Introuction to Buddhism  from the section of Dharma Gems-Dharma Lectures.


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