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Zen Buddhism: Brief Giude


Religion has always been an integral part of human life. From the first polytheistic religions of the ancient world to the mono- or non-theistic religions of today, people has always looked for a force that created the world and rules all the events in it. Thus, in this pursuit of understanding the Western and the Eastern civilizations have gone different ways. The former took the path of intelligence and logical thinking, while the latter made an appeal to the pure human mind without words, knowledge, etc. Exactly, in this way Zen Buddhism Religion appeared as a form of outlook of the world. This paper will be focused on the historical roots, major types and the modern positions of this oriental religion in the world.

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Zen Buddhism History

To begin with, it is necessary to understand the origin of the religious cult under consideration. Zen Buddhism (or “Ch’an” as it is pronounced in Chinese) is a religion of complete ignorance and perception of the world as it is. The historical beginnings of the religion find their roots in the 6th century AD, when an Indian monk Bodhidharma arrived to China. He brought the type of the Mahayana school of the Indian Buddhism to this country. Accordingly, translated from the Sanskrit “Dhyana” means meditation, in which the very essence of the religion lies. Further on, Zen Buddhism became one of the dominant religions in China and spread over Korea in the 7th century. Finally, the 12th century saw the introduction of Zen Buddhism to Japan, whose scholars and theologians popularized it in the Western world later. In Japan, this religion acquired the status of the national philosophy that was implemented in all the spheres of life including culture, education, developing military strategies, etc. Further on, in the late 19th century, Zen Buddhism was introduced to the Western world where it found thousands of supporters (Religion & Ethics, 2008).

Essence of Zen Buddhism

Thus, having an idea of where the religion under consideration comes from, it would not be out of place to consider its essence and major principles. First of all, it is necessary to state that Zen Buddhism rejects any kind of intelligence, education and logical thinking as ways to the understanding of the objective reality. Moreover, Zen calls all that people think is real to be a pure illusion created by logical thinking and intelligent approach to the perception of the world. In other words, Zen ideology is based on the concept of a pure mind which is not spoiled by teachings of numerous misleading religious and philosophical schools or attitudes of other people. Thus, according to Zen, every single person is on his or her own way to learning the Truth, and this Truth is different for every human being. Drawing from this, Zen Buddhism derives its concept of the possibility for every person to become a Buddha. Actually, every single man or woman is already a Buddha but to realize this they need to reach enlightenment (Haas, 2008).

Variations of Zen Buddhism

Accordingly, the ways to the enlightenment are the points that differentiate the various schools and sects that are singled out in Zen Buddhism. Two major types of Zen Buddhism are Rinzai (“Lin-chi” in Chinese) School and Soto (“Ts’ao-tung” in Chinese) School. In more detail, the Rinzai School is the movement of Zen Buddhism characterized by the wide use of “Koans”, i. e. illogical and rather paradoxical concepts that are used to prove the illusiveness of the existing reality and to show the people that they need to search for another way to perceive it. Koans are often accompanied by the screams and punches from the master of Zen Buddhism who makes his or her pupils forget about what they think they know and free their minds for the actual knowledge of Zen. On the contrary, the Soto School resorts to the use of meditation as a way to reach enlightenment and understand Zen. In Japanese it is called “zazen” and is practiced without any enforcement till the moment when the enlightenment comes as it is. Finally, nowadays Zen Buddhism is rather influential in the world, as there are 9, 6 million Zen Buddhists only in Japan and many more human beings in other countries (Zen: The Path of Meditation, 2008).


Thus, to make the respective conclusion to this paper, it is necessary to state that Zen Buddhism is one of the most influential religions in the world. It came from India, was developed in China and Korea from where it was finally introduced to Japan and, later, the countries of the Western world. The essence of Zen Buddhism lies in the pursuit of enlightenment through the rejection of intelligence and rational thinking. Some Zen Buddhism schools resort to enforced methods of reaching enlightenment, others use peaceful meditation methods. However, the major point of Zen Buddhism is single – every human being is a Buddha and he or she needs only to realize this by reaching enlightenment.

Works Cited

Haas, Jack. “An Excerpt from the Way of Wonder.” Zen Buddhism: the religion that is no religion. 2008. A unique introduction to Zen Buddhism. 2009. Web.

Religion & Ethics. “Zen in its own words.” Zen Buddhism. 2008. BBC. 2009. Web.

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Zen: The Path of Meditation.“Zen Beliefs and Practices.” Religion Facts. 2008. Religionfacts. 2009. Web.

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1. StudyCorgi. "Zen Buddhism: Brief Giude." October 22, 2021.


StudyCorgi. "Zen Buddhism: Brief Giude." October 22, 2021.


StudyCorgi. 2021. "Zen Buddhism: Brief Giude." October 22, 2021.


StudyCorgi. (2021) 'Zen Buddhism: Brief Giude'. 22 October.

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