Zen is a branch of Buddhism, that is practiced in China, Japan, and Korea. It incorporates the Taoist thought, and stresses the role of meditation and pursuing enlightenment. Traditionally, Zen traces its roots back to Indian Buddhism, where it was known by "dhyÃÂna", a Sanskrit term for meditation. This name was transliterated into Chinese as "ChÃÂ¡n" was later transliterated into Korean as "Seon", and then into Japanese as "Zen."
According to these traditional accounts, an Indian monk named Bodhidharma brought Zen Buddhism to China in the fifth century CE. Later, Japanese monks studying in China learned of Zen and brought it back to Japan around the seventh century.
The history of Zen begins in India. In Buddha's lifetime, yoga as a practice in the concentration of the spirit was widespread. It is in the nature of yoga to concentrate the spirit on one point, the achievement of serenity through seated meditation.
The yoga methods of the day were limited at this time to restrictions on what was to be eaten, fasts, and certain vows such as the vow to remain standing on one leg for a long period of time. Through such practices and many exercises, the yogi trained himself and was in the control of the slightest movement of his own spirit.
Buddha practised this kind of yoga for twelve years from the moment that he decided to give up a routine life. He visited saints and interviewed wise men, travelling to the four corners of the country. But in the end Buddha did not find in Yoga any answer to two essential questions, what is man, and how should man live?
Buddha gave up ascetism, sat down quietly, crossed his legs and observed his breathing. During the dawn of the eighth day of Zazen he attained a higher...