Zen Buddhism

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Zen or Ch'an Buddhism is a movement within the Buddhist religion that stresses the practice of meditation as the means to Enlightenment. Zen and Ch'an are, respectively, Japanese and Chinese attempts to render the Sanskrit term for meditation: Dhyana.

Zen's roots may be traced to India, but it was in East Asia, that is, China and eventually Japan, that the movement became distinct and flourished. Like other Chinese Buddhist orders, Ch'an first established itself as a Lineage of Masters emphasizing the teachings of a particular text, in this case the Lankavatara Sutra. Bodhidharma, the first Ch'an Patriarch in China, who is said to have arrived there from India c. 470 AD, was a master of this text. He also emphasized the practice of contemplative sitting (that is, Samadhi), and legend has it that he himself spent 9 years in meditation facing a wall.