Module I

The Origins of Chan

Chan is a form of Buddhism, originating in 6th century China, that embraces all of the teachings of Shakyamuni, the historical Buddha. As such, Chan is Buddhism as taught by the Buddha, no more and no less. However, just as the Buddha used expedient means to teach Dharma to different people at different levels of experience and capability, Chan uses expedient means to train the mind to divest itself of vexation and attachment.

Before we look at Chan's practices, we will first look at the foundation on which the Chan path rests. The origins of Chan can be understood both from the perspective of:

  • the Buddha's teachings, which are found in the Buddhist scriptures.
  • the history of Chan itself.

In this module we look briefly at Chan from both these views.