What is Zen Buddhism?

A Greco-Buddhist statue, one of the first repr...
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Buddhism is the religion based on the teachings of the Shakyamuni Buddha, an Indian who experienced Great Awakening while seated under the Bodhi Tree and who devoted his life to teaching others about 2600 years ago. Though the Buddhist tradition today is vast and its outward expression varies from country to country, it nevertheless is quite consistent in its basic teaching: that all things in the universe are subject to change and that human suffering, dissatisfaction, or the sense that somehow life is unfulfilling or incomplete are all ultimately rooted in self-clinging and the greed, anger and ignorance it engenders. According to the Buddha, such self-clinging can be overcome through the development of the wisdom and compassion innately present in each of us.

Zen is a centuries-old form of the Buddhist tradition that originated in China and developed into its current forms in Korea, Japan, and

Buddha Daibutsu, Kamakura, Japan. This statue,...
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Vietnam. In the 20th century, Zen spread around the world and is now one of the fastest growing religions in the west. Practically speaking, Zen helps people become more focused, centered, and more receptive. It helps them avoid being blinded by their own preconceptions of themselves and others. Zen can also help people practice another religious tradition more deeply. Though people practice Zen for many reasons, ultimately Zen practice is an expression of our fundamental completeness and wholeness as we are.