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a Japanese school, of 12th-century Chinese origin, teaching that contemplation of one's essential nature to the exclusion of all else is the only way of achieving pure enlightenment



one of the currents of Far Eastern Buddhism. The word “zen” itself is the Japanese pronunciation of the Chinese character transcribing the Sanskrit term dhyana (meditation, self-absorption); the Chinese pronunciation is ch’an. Zen developed in China during the sixth and seventh centuries under the strong influence of Taoism, from which Zen borrowed the disregard for knowledge and the conviction that the truth cannot be expressed in words but can only be attained by an internal leap, freeing the consciousness not only from the beaten paths of thought but from thought in general. Zen is characterized by a rejection of the established norms of intellect and morality and by a love of paradox, intuitivism, and spontaneity. The conceptual and artistic language of Zen is based on the laconic hint and rhythmic pause. Improvisation and intuitive action without any plan are of primary importance. These features of Zen can be understood as an expression of “freedom of the spirit” in a society where freedom is possible only as the unexpected, the unplanned, and the eccentric.

The first patriarch of Zen in China was the Indian prophet Bodhidharma (beginning of the sixth century), but the decisive role was played by the sixth patriarch Hui-neng (638-713) and Shen-hsiu (605-706). Zen flourished in China until the ninth century; in Japan it appeared in the 12th or 13th century. Zen has continued to exert an extensive influence on culture and ideology up to the present. In Zen the creative act is interpreted as a religious act, and this has had an enormous influence on Chinese painting, calligraphy, and poetry and on Japanese culture, especially since the Muromachi period (14th-16th centuries).

An idiosyncratic (vulgarized) variant of Zen flourishes among beatniks, who understand Zen as an ideology that rejects civilization.


Pomerants, G. “Dzen i ego nasledie.” Narody Azii i Afriki, 1964, no. 4.
Zavadskaia, E. V., and A. M. Piatigorskii. “Otzvuki kul’tury Vostoka v proizvedeniiakh Dzh. D. Selindzhera.” Narody Azii i Afriki, 1966, no. 3.
Suzuki, D. T. Essays in Zen Buddhism, series 1-3. London, 1953.
Watts, A. The Way of Zen. New York, 1957.
Blyth, R. H. Zen and Zen Classics, vols. 1-5. Tokyo, 1960-66.



Buddhist sect; truth found in contemplation and self-mastery. [Buddhism: Brewer Dictionary, 1174]


[Kehoe, B., "Zen and the Art of the Internet", February 1992.]


To figure out something by meditation or by a sudden flash of enlightenment. Originally applied to bugs, but occasionally applied to problems of life in general. "How'd you figure out the buffer allocation problem?" "Oh, I zenned it."

Contrast grok, which connotes a time-extended version of zenning a system. Compare hack mode. See also guru.


(1) A social collaboration platform. See blueKiwi ZEN.

(2) The code name for AMD's 2017 microarchitecture. See Ryzen.

(3) An open source virtual machine hypervisor. See Xen.
References in periodicals archive ?
(However, as the Japanese Zen philosopher Nishitani Keiji has noted, much of what passes for Buddhism in Schopenhauer is based on misreading and may have been drawn from Hindu ideas that preceded and informed Buddhist thought.) Yasunari Takahashi has compared what he calls Beckett's "Theatre of Mind" to Japanese Noh plays, which have deep ties to Zen.
Turning to Dogen, he did not invent the koan, but brought it from China in order to adapt it to Japanese Zen Buddhism.
It will draw inspiration from "the sheltered calm of a Christian monastic cloister, the austerity of Japanese Zen gardens and the formal exuberance of Muslim gardens".
How remote from the regimen of the Japanese Zen monastery are the words of the great T'ang master Lin-chi:
A sense of peace and tranquility, however, is to be found in the Buddhist Zen Garden in the museum courtyard created by a leading Japanese Zen Garden expert.
"We were inspired by ideas of international atmospheric spaces including the Japanese Zen gardens as we conceived a wellness destination to de-stress and focus on the body, mind and soul," said Shaikh Khalid.
The ancient Masters created techniques to bypass the mind like the Koan (of the Japanese Zen Masters).
"It's simply Japanese zen with the French ability to enhance flavours," he says, over a plate of marinated chirashi, a Mediterranean tweak on the Japanese dish of sashimi served atop a bowl of rice.
Specific sites of analysis include an art fair in London, roads in provincial Peru, mass housing in Britain, walls in divided Jerusalem, a scientific exhibit on anatomy, a Japanese Zen garden, and religious displays in India.
In a bid to add a sense of tranquility to the experience, outside the showroom's majestic double doors are two beautifully landscaped Japanese Zen gardens.
Assuming that a cat poem in the poetic corpus of Hanshan must have legitimated further writing about cats, Barrett doubts that Japanese Zen masters, while continuing to write cat poems, had ever met any real cats, even though some cats might have been brought to Japan by Chinese masters.

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