Definition of Zen in English:


(also Zen Buddhism)


mass noun
  • A Japanese school of Mahayana Buddhism emphasizing the value of meditation and intuition rather than ritual worship or study of scriptures.

    • ‘Koans are profound riddles, used as a form of meditation by some schools of Zen.’
    • ‘I read this story a long time ago when I was discovering the wisdom of Zen, Taoism and Buddhism.’
    • ‘His views based on meditation came to be known as Zen Buddhism and became popular in China and Japan.’
    • ‘When I found the Japanese Zen meditation, it was very natural for me.’
    • ‘Japanese schools other than Zen are also well represented in the West.’
    • ‘Stephen Batchelor is a former Buddhist monk who has studied under both Zen and Tibetan masters.’
    • ‘Note that Zen meditation and Zen philosophy are two different things.’
    • ‘The early development of Japanese art was influenced by Zen Buddhism and the sophisticated Chinese culture.’
    • ‘Some sects of Zen Buddhism consider him their founder.’
    • ‘Much of Kendo's philosophy is drawn from Zen and from Buddhism and from Shintoism.’
    • ‘The most radical form of Buddhism, Zen, has been described as a path of crooked wisdom.’
    • ‘She studied Zen Buddhism under the guidance of the late Master Kusan at Songgwang Sa monastery until 1985.’
    • ‘Among practitioners of Zen Buddhism and vipassana meditation, women were authorized to teach relatively soon after men.’
    • ‘Most of us associate Zen with black robes and rock gardens, but do we really know what it is?’
    • ‘If you sit in zazen, divorced from the rest of Buddhist practice, I'm afraid it's not Zen Buddhism.’
    • ‘One of the ways to control physiological reactions to psychological events is meditation, Yoga, Zen Buddhism etc.’
    • ‘I've studied Zen Buddhism a great deal, I know very little of it, but I've studied it for 30 years or so, and I have long conversations with friends from India about religious practice there.’
    • ‘It must be investigated honestly if Zen is to remain a meaningful and real tradition.’
    • ‘Could you clarify for me what the differences in technique are between Buddhist meditation as practiced in Tibet versus, say, Zen Buddhism that we've heard about from Japan?’
    • ‘They dedicate their lives to spiritual enlightenment through the practice of Zen Buddhism and the disciplined exercises of kung fu.’

Zen Buddhism was introduced to Japan from China in the 12th century, and has had a profound cultural influence. The aim of Zen is to achieve sudden enlightenment (satori) through meditation in a seated posture (zazen), usually under the guidance of a teacher and often using paradoxical statements (koans) to transcend rational thought


Japanese, literally ‘meditation’, from Chinese chán ‘quietude’, from Sanskrit dhyāna ‘meditation’.