From Academic Kids

Chan can be variation of 陳 (Chen), a Chinese family name.
Chinese Name
Hanyu Pinyin Chn
Wade-Giles Ch'an2
Cantonese IPA sɪm4
Cantonese Jyutping sim4
Korean Name
Revised Romanization Seon
McCune-Reischauer Sŏn
Japanese Name
Romaji Zen
Sanskrit Name
Sanskrit ध्यान dhyāna

Chn is a major school of Chinese Mahāyāna Buddhism.

Chan (Chinese 禪) is traditionally held to be a Chinese adaptation of Indian dhyana meditation practices, and is also often said to be influenced by indigenous Chinese Taoism. According to traditional accounts, the school was founded by an Indian monk, Bodhidharma, who arrived in China in about 440 and taught at Shaolin Monastery. Bodhidharma was ostensibly the twenty-eighth patriarch in a lineage that extended all the way back to Shakyamuni Buddha.

Bodhidharma is recorded as having come to China to teach a "separate transmission outside of the texts" which "did not rely upon textuality." His insight was then transmitted through a series of Chinese patriarchs, the most famous of whom was the possibly invented Sixth Patriarch, Hui Neng. A modern revisionist theory, however, suggests that Chan began to develop gradually in different regions of China as a grass-roots movement. According this view, Chan was a reaction to a perceived imbalance in Chinese Buddhism toward the blind pursuit of textual scholarship with a concomitant neglect of the original essence of Buddhist practice: meditation and the cultivation of right view.

After the time of Hui Neng (circa 700 CE), Chan began to branch off into numerous different schools, each with their own special emphasis, but all of which kept the same basic focus on meditational practice, personal instruction and grounded personal experience. During the late Tang and the Song periods, the tradition truly flowered, as a wide number of eminent teachers, such as Mazu, Baizhang, Yunmen and Linji developed specialized teaching methods, which would become characteristic of each of the "five houses" of mature Chinese Chan. Later on, the teaching styles and words of these classical masters were recorded in such important Chan texts as the Biyan Lu; (Blue Cliff Record) and the Wumenguan; (Gateless Passage) which would be studied by later generations of students down to the present.

Missing image
Dharma wheel

List of topics
By region and country
Schools and sects
Terms and concepts

The Japanese Zen scholar D.T. Suzuki maintained that a Chan satori (Japanese for "understanding") has always been the goal of the training, but that what distinguished the Chan tradition as it developed in China, and as it then spread to Korea and Japan, was a way of life radically different from that of Indian Buddhists. In India, the tradition of the mendicant (holy beggar) prevailed, but in China social circumstances led to the development of a temple and training-center system in which the abbot and the monks all performed mundane tasks. These included food gardening or farming, carpentry, architecture, housekeeping, administration, and the practice of folk medicine. Consequently, the enlightenment sought in Chan had to stand up well to the demands and potential frustrations of everyday life and self-support.

Chan continued to be influential as a religious force in China, although some energy was lost with the syncretist Neo-Confucian revival of Confucianism starting in the Song period. While traditionally distinct, Chan was taught alongside Pure Land in many Chinese Buddhist monasteries. In time, much of this distinction was lost, and many recent masters teach both Chan and Pure Land. Chan was severely repressed in China during the recent modern era with the appearance of the People's Republic, but has more recently been re-asserting itself on the mainland, and has a significant following in Taiwan and Hong Kong and among Overseas Chinese.

In the 20th and 21st Centuries Chan practice has been adopted by Westerners, particularly in Europe and the USA where several lay practitioners have received Dharma transmission from Chan Master Sheng-yen and are now teaching in their own centres.

See also

ja:禅ko:선pl:Chan (religia) zh:禅宗 zh:中國禪宗


Academic Kids Menu

  • Art and Cultures
    • Art (
    • Architecture (
    • Cultures (
    • Music (
    • Musical Instruments (
  • Biographies (
  • Clipart (
  • Geography (
    • Countries of the World (
    • Maps (
    • Flags (
    • Continents (
  • History (
    • Ancient Civilizations (
    • Industrial Revolution (
    • Middle Ages (
    • Prehistory (
    • Renaissance (
    • Timelines (
    • United States (
    • Wars (
    • World History (
  • Human Body (
  • Mathematics (
  • Reference (
  • Science (
    • Animals (
    • Aviation (
    • Dinosaurs (
    • Earth (
    • Inventions (
    • Physical Science (
    • Plants (
    • Scientists (
  • Social Studies (
    • Anthropology (
    • Economics (
    • Government (
    • Religion (
    • Holidays (
  • Space and Astronomy
    • Solar System (
    • Planets (
  • Sports (
  • Timelines (
  • Weather (
  • US States (


  • Home Page (
  • Contact Us (

  • Clip Art (
Personal tools