1 of 2

This course provides an introduction to the nature and style of Chan Buddhism, which has been practiced in China since around the 6th century C.E. and, when exported to Japan around the 11-12th century, became the source of "Zen." Rather than attempt to present in depth every important aspect and feature of Chan Buddhism, this course — by presenting some of the  highlights of Chan — hopefully conveys its flavor and unique approach. In the near future you will be able to explore aspects of Chan in greater depth on Ashoka.

The teachings of the Buddha tell us that everyone has Buddha-nature and that everyone can attain Buddhahood. Everyone who . . .  follows the principles and methods of practice can become a Buddha. . .  Buddhism emphasizes the cultivation and realization of wisdom, which resolves internal struggles and suffering. But how do we cultivate wisdom? We rely on the guidance of methods such as those found in Chan practice.

Master Sheng Yen

As Chan is a form of Buddhism, an introduction to Chan brings us to study the basic teachings of the Buddha. Chan is both Buddhism as you may already be familiar with and also forms of practice, meditation and study that evolved in China and eventually migrated to other Asian countries (such as Zen in Japan). Today we are witnessing the widespread interest in Chan and Zen in many countries in the West.

Chan is not something new brought here [to the West] by Orientals; Chan is present everywhere, in space without limit and time without end. However before the Buddhism of the East was propagated in the western world, the people of the West never knew of the existence of Chan. The Chan taught by Orientals in the West is not, in fact, the real Chan. It is the method to realize Chan. Chan was first discovered by a prince named Siddhartha Gautama (called Shakyamuni after his enlightenment), who was born in India about 2500 years ago. After he became enlightened and was called a Buddha, he taught us the method to know Chan. This method was transmitted from India to China, and then to Japan. In India it was called dhyana, which is pronounced "Chan" in Chinese, and "Zen" in Japanese. Actually, all three are identical

Master Sheng Yen