Brief Overview of Zen

Established in India, Brought to China, and Developed in Japan
Zen (the Zen sect) is a school of Mahayana Buddhism which is regarded as having been developed in Japan, after established in India and transmitted into China by Daruma (Bodhidharma).

It does not have a central sutra because of the principle of furyumonji (the thought that the status of enlightenment cannot be expressed in characters or discourses) and emphasizes shishi sosho (transmission of the teachings and the way of Buddhism from a teacher to a disciple) because of the principle of transmission of spiritual awakening without words or characters and in a heart-to-heart way. It is characterized by various means such as occasion-suited telepathy (direct communication from mind to mind) for those principles. Its basic form of ascetic practices is meditation, which has been an important type of virtue for the basic practice of Buddhism since ancient times, and the Buddhist group which practiced mediation began to be called Zen sect from the end of the Tang Dynasty in China. Later, when the origin of the Zen sect was actively sought, in accordance with its establishment, Daruma was regarded as the founder. The Zen which Daruma introduced was that of Mahayana Buddhism of ryogi (teaching the whole truth after clarifying it), different from that in early Buddhist schools.

The term Zen generally refers to the Zen sect, but also refers to zenna (a practice to attain enlightenment on the truth with calm emotion and clear mind) depending on a context or a case.

Brief History of Zen
Since Gotama Siddhattha (Shakyamuni, Buddha), the founder of Buddhism, gave the missionary work of Buddhism to Mahakasyapa (Judai deshi (The Ten Chief Disciples of the historical Buddha, Shakyamuni)) as the Right Dharma of furyumonji and the transmission of spiritual awakening without words or characters, it has been succeeded up until the 28h Bodhidharma (Bodai Daruma). In China it was succeeded by sixth generations from Daruma to Daikan Zenshi, and was succeeded from Kido Chigu to Daio Kokushi (the most reverend priest) and Daito Kokushi in Japan after the emergence of Goke Shichishu (five sects and seven schools derived from the original Zen Buddhism), which led to the present Zen. It was also known as the Busshin sect, the Daruma sect and the Ryoga sect for a certain period of time.

Japanese Zen Garden of the Shoden Eigen In Temple
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Zazen, The Core of The Zen Buddhism

Zazen, The Meditation of Buddhism
Zazen (meditation) is a fundamental method of training in Zen Buddhism, in which one meditates sitting with correct posture. It is sometimes written with the characters 座禅 however it is correct to use the character 坐.

Method of Zazen Training
Harmonize posture, breathing and mind. (choshin, chosoku, choshin respectively)

A special cushion for Zazen called a zafu is used when sitting down to meditate. A zabuton (flat cushion) folded in two can sometimes serve as a substitute. Sit down cross-legged on the cushion, with knees barely touching the floor.

Zazen is done in either full-lotus position or half-lotus position. To sit in the full-lotus position, put the right foot on the left thigh and move the right heel close to the hip. Next, put the left foot on the right thigh. In half-lotus position only the left foot is put on the right thigh. In either position, the three points including two legs and bottom make a balanced sitting posture.

The hands are placed together palms up with the thumbs touching in a natural arc in the hokkai-join or gesture of reality. Face the right palm upwards and place the left palm on top. Lightly touch the tips of the thumbs together.

With eyes half open, lower gaze to a point about one meter in front.

Pull chin in, and rest the tongue lightly on the roof of the mouth behind the front teeth, keeping mouth lightly closed.

Relax shoulders and straighten the spine. Pull the back in and the stomach slightly forward. Such that the nose and navel are in line.

Breathe naturally. Breathe out and in gently from the nose. It is said to exhale from the 'tanden' (a point in the lower abdomen).

Some temples hold Zazen meetings.

Consciousness of Zazen
Zazen is sometimes perceived as the same as visual meditation ('meiso'), however the direction of Zazen is different to that of visual meditation in which the eyes are closed and an object is visualized in the mind. The purpose of Zazen is not to be bound by the images in your mind but to experience the world and yourself as it really is, and reach a spiritual place of nothingness.

The priest Dogen, founder of the Soto Sect of Buddhism, emphasized the concept of 'shikantaza' which is a Japanese term for Zazen and means just sitting. It means to just sit for the sake of sitting, and not for the purpose of gaining some merit or reward.

From the view point of medical science, researchers found the slowing of breathing during Zazen meditation.

The Entrance Gate of Kenninji Temple of Rinzai Sect

Creed of Zen

Zen Was Born From Buddhism
It aims to develop a new concept of values based on experience to access the truth of Buddhism directly through continuous ascetic practices called mediation, in order to rediscover the Buddhahood which is fundamentally equipped in all people's minds without exception. Its purpose is to clear the juni-innen (the 12 nidanas (continuum of twelve phases that lead to suffering)) of Shogyo Mujo (All things must pass) with the wisdom (prajna in Sanskrit) evoked by the enlightenment gained through the above process, to reach nirvana after diminishing the nidanas and being liberated from earthly desires and the woes of man, and to lead all living things finally. Therefore, it is regarded as the true way to show the nature directly without using words except for the direct teaching from a master to a practitioner of austerities on a case-by-case basis.

The reason why mediation is adopted as a major form of ascetic practice is that many Buddha were regarded to reach enlightenment through mediation from ancient times, other than the fact that Daruma Daishi introduced mediation. Recently, some professors of physiology say that the activation and building up of serotonergic neurons and the emergence of unusual particular alpha waves (alpha wave) by practicing mediation leads to inner stability and health of mind and body. However, since a person who reaches the mental state where he or she is fundamentally the same entity as Buddha comes to have the value that all activities include Buddhism, he or she also comes to practice nenbutsu (Buddhist prayer) and sutra chanting as well as mediation.

The Zen sect tends to dislike metaphysical questions such as what the Zen sect is. This is because the answer to such a question should be to be aware by oneself individually through the enlightenment gained by mediation, and because what is taught by others goes against the true intention of the Zen sect to return to the inner nature since one's consciousness has already faced outside instead of inside. The other reason is that it avoids to fix the idea or discernment as a 'biased view' or 'obsession' based on the selfish interpretation, and that it encourages to discern after reaching the free mental state escaped from the biased view through mediation as a non biased discernment.

The reason to recommend mediation with avoiding to teach by characters and words is that not only it believes strongly the historical events of telepathy in Seson nenge, Kasho bisho (when Buddha held up a the flower on his deathbed, only Mahakassapa smiled among his disciples by knowing what he meant), but also it preaches that it prevents the accomplishment of Buddhism to seek Buddha in sutras and others with forgetting the fact that Buddha exists in the inner bottom of oneself. Takuan Soho Osho (high priest) metaphorically spoke as follows. 'Even if you explain about water, you can not be wet actually, and even if you explain about fire very well, you can not feel hot actually. '
'It is the same as you can not feel clearly unless you touch real water and real fire. '
'It is the same as when you are still hungry even if you have been explained about food. '
It insists the importance of an experience to notice the inner Buddha of oneself actually, and that its experience exists in the stage which can not be reached through the understanding of words and characters but reached by heightening the mental state of Dhyana, Meditation (Mental Concentration) through mediation.

The Category of Dhyana - Meditation in the Mediation of the Zen Sect
The mediation of the Zen sect is classified into the four categories.

Gufu Shogyo Zen (Zen meditation practiced by ordinary persons and believers of religions other than Buddhism)

It is a mental state of Bonpu (ordinary person) and Gedo (a believer of heretical doctrine other than Buddhism) to think simply that the empty mind with no discernment is Dhyana-Mediation. The Daruma Daishi explained that if this mental state with no squirm inside and no request to the outside becomes firm like a wall, a person can enter Buddhism for the first time.

Kansatsu Sogi Zen (Zen practice for Hinayana and Bodhisattva at earlier stages to see the learned teachings of Buddha)

It is a mental state of Hinayana Bosatsu (Bodhisattva) and the Bosatsu in three earlier states before the 10 holy states to see the learned teachings of Buddha and meditate. However, he or she has not reached enlightenment because of the strong desire to seek Buddhism and nirvana. The reason why people can not escape from the transmigration of troubles is that such selfish desires lead to bad karma as a result. A Zen master Muso Soseki preached that if a person forgets oneself, throws away all one's desires and becomes altruistic, one can immediately become a living Buddha by an emergence of the Buddhahood.

Hanen Nyojitsu Zen (Zen practice for Mahayana Bodhisattva to view philosophically the world)

It is a mental status of Mahayana Bosatsu to notice the middle way (in the presence of two contradictory positions, performing practice freely without leaning toward either of them), forget three kinds of karma, and become philosophical about existence in Buddhism as neither existing nor vacuity. It sympathized with the suffering of all living things in life and death and worries himself to give delight by removing suffering in those whose attitude is not different with himself. However, since he or she has a desire to relieve living things, he or she cannot enter Zen practice reaching the same status as Buddha with the holy wisdom lead by ones own power.

Nyorai Seijo Zen (Zen practice reaching the same status as Buddha with the holy wisdom lead by ones own power)

It is the mental state to enter the same status as that of Nyorai (Tathagata) and to have holy wisdom by ones own awareness. In the Zen sect, returning to the original state of mind and original Buddhahood unconsciously by mediation means to jump over the above two Zen and reach directly to this status from the Zen meditation practice done by ordinary persons and a believer of any religion other than Buddhism. Therefore, Jugo (the 10 titles Buddha) and Bosatsu are regarded as unimportant details.

Some ancient people said that there existed a fifth status above these, that is, Zen practice to lead people without Zen practice to reach the same status as Buddha with the holy wisdom lead by ons own power.

In addition, the details of the step-up from the Zen meditation practice done by ordinary persons and a believer of a religion other than Buddhism, to the Zen practice reaching the same status as Buddha with the holy wisdom lead by ones own power, are shown in "Tetsugan-zenji Kana Hogo" (Zen-master Tetsugan's Explanation of the teachings of Buddha in kana).

Upaya - The Ways and Means of Emptiness and Detachment
It is Hoben-horin (the teachings of Buddha for disciples and others, which was categorized by the Chinese priest Dosho). The word 'Hoben' is used in the sense of a possible method to transmit the true intention of Buddha and Zen masters although it is not the true intention itself. Besides, it means the flexible mental attitude to seek about how to realize the order. It is like the Gaku (学) of the Kyo sect, Sanmitsu (three secret functions of Buddha) of the Shingon sect and the commandment of the Ritsu sect.

Shikantaza (do only meditation as much as possible)

It means to do only meditation earnestly. The word 'earnestly' shows the depth of Dhyana - Meditation. It means to do mediation with discarding consciousness and to identify oneself with mediation itself. It means to devote oneself to the action of mediation itself as earnestly as a person forgets even his or her existence by doing mediation. This method is regarded to make it possible for even a beginner to experience a deeper mental state of Dhyana (Mediation). However, since the Zen sect is occasion-suited and Mahayana Buddhism considers Buddhism as being included in all ways, it does not forbid to do other things except mediation, but it is difficult for a beginner to understand these things. Therefore, as an easy way for a beginner, it is said that Shikantaza and shushoichinyo (practice is not for enlightenment, but they are combined and cannot be divided) are the secrets of the Zen sect. Katsu (the words uttered when reprove persons are practicing asceticism in Zen Buddhism) which says that there is no difference in social standing in the mental status of mediation and that people in mediation are all Buddha equally, is a kind of metaphysical matter of expediency to promote Shikantaza. However, since it is considered that even if a person cannot reach enlightenment he or she can reach it in the next life by the kudoku (merit) of mediation, and the nominal interpretation that he or she can be Buddha immediately through mediation is not necessarily false. As to the speed of the accomplishment of Buddhism, Daruma said that a person whose mind was already filled with Buddhism could reach it early while a person who practiced gradually after having an aim could reach it late, and that there was a long distance of a million kalpa (the longest time unit in the ancient India) between them. A set of katsu in the sense that a person who does mediation deeply and rightly can reach enlightenment early and a person who does not do it can reach it late, is a way of expression to strengthen the practice of mediation rather than studying.

Koanzen (a method to learn the secrets of Zen by providing questions to a person seeking the secrets)

The reason why Daruma Daishi traveled from the west is said that he or she worried about the decline of Buddhism abroad and hoped to teach that what was important for enlightenment was the practice of mediation and was not studying sutras. However, even after being taught to stop thinking, discussing and studying, Shikantaza is not an easy way for a practitioner of austerities who tends to start thinking, discussing and studying about the reason for them. Such a practitioner, even if he or she studies sutra, tends to interpret it with imagination because he or she can not raise sympathy with enlightenment. Many masters have been worried about such a situation as the obsession caused by unreasonable imagination makes his or her understanding distorted and he or she becomes remote prevented by his own contortions. Even when he or she studies sutra, what is necessary at first is an experience of enlightenment. The enlightenment is to confirm one's mind with one's mind and understand one's mind by one's mind. It is not something to be got by using others except oneself such as clearing something by depending others. Therefore, it is important to face oneself at first through the practice of mediation in order to reach enlightenment above all. Koanzen is a method which was produced by Zen masters in order to make the practitioners who tended to think practice mediation caused by these problems. It gives a practitioner koan (questions from a master to a person seeking the secret of Zen to avoid deviation from the correct way) and makes him or her think its answer while Gyojuzaga (basic behavior for human living, namely, go, stop, sit and sleep).


Koan is what shows the mental status of enlightenment directly and is an emotion which is integrated into inspiration and difficult to show. This is given to a practitioner whose attitude is not good and who may go to the wrong direction, from a Zen master, just like a medicine. The words of ancient high priests are sometimes used, while it is made extemporaneously. The practitioner who is given koan is requested to be correctly aware of the intention of the words and answer from the heart in front of his or her master. Many koan consist of an inconsistent style of words and it is difficult to understand the literal meaning logically. The answer of koan is often far from the thinking based on common-sense and tends to dissolve contradiction by erasing one's consciousness and to sublate and integrate it in a higher stage. It is said that the secret of Zen is included in such a process to reach an answer and that koan is one of the devices to lead a practitioner to enlightenment. However, it is said that such a way to meditate instead of studying is suitable for priests who can be directed and guarded by good Zen masters and that lay believers need to do both mediation and studying.

Naikan (reflection to see one's own spiritual and physical properties of Buddha)

The reason why the ascetic practices of Zen are strict and masters daringly afflict Zen practitioners, is that a rich and happy person finds it difficult to seek Buddhism. This is regarded as the same reason why enthroned Shakyamuni abdicated the luxury life to pursue pleasure with a princess, by the fortune of the whole country, and became a priest and practiced asceticism for six years. If a person meditates desperately when he or she is suffering from a sudden disease and hoping to fall senseless and die, it would be a good opportunity to reach great enlightenment. Even when he or she cannot reach great enlightenment, if he or she is reminded of the hardship at that time, his or her suffering in life would be of no significance. In addition, such a mental preparation as the blessing to break the endless ambivalence of life and death and reach Nyorai's enlightenment cannot be got with a little hardships and troubles.

However, the Zen master Hakuin worried about the practitioner who did too much mediation and suffered from a nervous breakdown (decrease in positive activity of the brain), and gave the secret of Naikan as a method of healing. It is a method to take a rest in order to cure the Zen disease caused by nervous breakdown, and it consists of 24 hours sleeping, image training of the Zen sect, susokukan (method to achieve spiritual concentration and stability by counting the number of breaths) and tanden kokyu (respiration by working the inner part of the lower abdomen just beneath the navel).

Nishushigyo (the way to the two truths and the methods for four practices)

It is the way to the two truths and the methods for four practices, which is said to be introduced by Daruma. It is said that many methods to reach enlightenment are summarized into these two.

Japanese Zen Garden of Komyo-Zen-Ji Temple in Fukuoka

Zen Development in China

Zen in China
It is described in the literature on Chinese Zen, such as "Keitoku Dento Roku" (books of the genealogy of Zen Buddhism, consisting of biographies of priests in India and China) as follows.

It insists that Buddhism was gradually transmitted from Mahakasyapa and the teaching of Zen was introduced by Bodhidharma from India to China, which authorized the Zen in China.

Mahakasyapa was a disciple from Brahman society and regarded as a hoshi (successor of Buddhism) of Shakyamuni, and his legend called nenge misho (heart-to-heart communication (literally, "holding a flower and subtly smiling")) is seen in "Mumonkan" (The Gateless Gate), books of the Zen sect in Sung.

The Zen in China was established as the Zen sect after Shiso Doshin (the fourth leader Doshin) (580 - 651) and Goso Konin (the fifth leader Konin) (601 - 674) who were called Tozanhomon (a group in Chinese Zen Buddhism).

In addition, it is thought that it was developed after a new definition of mediation and Dhyana (Meditation) were shown in the "Rokusodaishi Hobodangyo" (also known as Rokuso Dankyo, the platform sutra of the sixth patriarch) which included the name of Rokuso Eno (the sixth leader Eno) (638 - 713) and was thought to be edited by his disciple Kataku Jinne.

In addition, the episode Nangaku Ejo (677 - 744), a disciple of Eno, and his disciple Baso Doitsu (709 - 788) in "Keitoku Dento Roku" (Transmission of the Lamp) made the position of the Zen sect against mediation clear.

The essence of the Chinese Zen sect is shown clearly in this part, which was greatly beyond traditional mediation in Buddhism. On the other hand, it is not without reason that some people criticize the Zen sect to defame the teachings of Shakyamuni. However, this is a sincere Buddhism which sought the practice of Hannya-haramitsu (completion of the supreme wisdom) from the foundation behind thought, and it is true that the Zen sect flourished from Tang to Sung.

The word 'Hannya-haramitsu' refers to the transcendence of wisdom of dichotomy between the two such as shigan (this world) and higan (that world), but it does not refer to the transcendence by mediation, and the Chinese Zen masters aimed to return to the position where there was no mind, that is, the position before ideas occurred. Therefore, the record of conversation in such activities (Zengoroku) is nonsense from the viewpoint of daily logos.

In China, it seems that Chinese Zen often exchanged with Taoism founded by Lao-tze, so that there are many common points between them. As opposed to traditional Chinese Buddhism, which was centered around knowledge, Zen developed greatly in China as Buddhism which aimed at prompt enlightenment instead of gradual enlightenment through knowledge and mediation. In addition, the 'Dento,' which was the transmission of enlightenment, was emphasized in the Zen sect and Buddhism had been succeeded from masters to disciples.

Soon in the Northern Sung, the idea of 'five sects' proposed by Hogen Moneki was generalized and established as 'Goke' (five sect). In addition, the group of Oryo School and Yogi School of the Rinzai sect strengthened the influence to as strong as the 'Goke,' which led to the idea of 'Goke Shichishu' including these two schools.

In addition, Zen was not dominated by the Zen priests. They actively got engaged in society from the active nature of Zen. Therefore, it had a wide influence to various cultures such as Confucianism Philosophy including Neo-Confucianism and Yomei-gaku (neo-Confucianism based on teaching of Wang Yangming), literature including Chinese poetry, Sansui-ga (Chinese-style landscape painting) of ink-wash painting and arts including garden making beyond the framework of a religious community.

Goke Shichishu
The Rinzai sect
The founder of the sect was Gigen RINZAI, who lived at the end of Tang. From the end of the Tang to Godai (Five Dynasties) period, the Rinzai sect, which was based in Northern China, did not have a strong influence after Gigen's disciples Sansei Enen and Koke Zonsho. Only Nanin Egyo and Fuketsu Ensho of Zonsho lineage partly succeeded its tradition.

In the Northern Sung, when the Zen masters such as Funyo Zensho, Koe Genren (広慧元漣) and Sekimon Unso who were disciples of Shuzan Shonen, a disciple of Ensho, appeared one after another, it came to flourish. Sekiso Soen and Roya Ekaku (瑯琊慧覚) who were Zensho's disciples, and Yogi Hoe of the Yogi school and Oryu Enan of the Oryu school, who were Shonen's disciples, appeared and their group dominated all over China.

Koho Genmyo, who lived in the Yuan Dynasty Period, expressed its character by the words of 'glorious fun'.

The Oryu school
After the middle of the Sung Period, the lineage of Enan expanded its influence to as strong as the Goke with the Yogi school. The appearance of Maido Soshin, Torin Josho (東林常聡) and Shinjo Katsubun (真浄克文) who were disciples of Enan, Shijin Goshin and Reigen Isei who were disciples of Shoshin, and Tosotsu Juetsu and Kakuhan Keiko (覚範慧洪) who were disciples of Katsubun, led to its flourishing and the Oryu school became superior to the Yogi school, which had flourished more before.

The Yogi School
The lineage of Hoe expanded its influence, the same as the Oryu school, and became one of the schools among Shichishu (the Seven schools). After Goso Hoen, a disciple of Hakun Shutan, the Zen masters such as Engo Kokugon, Bukkan Egon and Butsugen Seion, who were Hoen's disciples, appeared and were called 'the three Buddha. 'In the Southern Sung period, it kept influence and Daie Soko, who was a disciple of Kokugan, had many disciples and established the Daie school. Besides the Kokyu school of Kukyu Joryu, the Shogen school of Kido Chigu and the Haan school (破庵派) of Bushun Shiban also flourished.

The Igyo sect
It was founded by Izan Reiyu (潙山霊裕) and Gyozan Ejaku. This lineage also had influence around Jingnan and the Southern Tang, both of the Ten kingdoms, but gradually declined and disappeared before the Sung period.

Koho Genmyo, who lived in the Yuan Dynasty Period, expressed its character by a word of 'sobersides. '

The Unmon sect
It was founded by Unmon Bunen. Korin Choon, Dosan Shusho and Tokusan Enmitsu, who were disciples of Bunen, formed a large group at the end of the Tang, and flourished from the end of the Five Dynasties period to the Northern Sung period. In the Sung period, Seccho Juken from the lineage of Choon and Butsunichi Kaisu from the lineage of Monju Oshin (文殊応真) flourished. A Juken disciple, Tene Gie, appeared and was known as the reviver of the Unmon sect. After that, the Zen masters such as Butsuin Ryogen (仏印了元) and Daibai Hoei (大梅法英) appeared one after another and it had an influence as strong as the Rinzai sect in the Northern Sung period, but it gradually declined towards the end of the Northern Sung period. In the Southern Sung period, Raian Shoju, an editor of "Katai Futo Roku" (the Chia-t'ai Comprehensive Record of the Lamp), and others flourished, but it had a small influence and finally disappeared at the end of the Southern Sung period.

Koho Genmyo, who lived in the Yuan Dynasty Period, expressed the tradition of the sect by the words 'noble and archaic. '

The Soto sect
It was founded by Tozan Ryokai who lived at the end of Tang. The lineage of Ryokai and Sozan Honjaku were spread in the Jingnan and Southern Tang, both of Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms, but did not have a strong influence as a whole. Only Sozan Eika (曹山慧霞), a disciple of Honjaku, Doan Dohi, a disciple of Ungo Doyo, Gokoku Shucho (護国守澄), a disciple of Sozan Kyonin, and Sekimon Kenun (石門献蘊), a disciple of Seirin Shiken, flourished.

In the northern Sung period, it did not spread so much, but Toshi Gisei revived the sect. Its sect tradition was succeeded by Fuyo Dokai and Tanka Shijun. Dokai was rejected from being given a purple Buddhist priest stole and the title of master by the Emperor Kiso and was exiled to Shishu (Shandong Province), which turned out to be a blessing in disguise for the Soto sect to spread in Northern China.

In the Southern Sung period, Wanshi Shogaku and Shinkatsu Seiryo, who were disciples of Shijun, appeared and kept the sect's tradition called 'Mokusho-Zen' (Zen which emphasizes mediation), but it had less influence than the Rinzai sect. In addition, Nyojo TENDO, a disciple of Seiryo, was a master of Dogen who went to Sung. Jitoku Keiki (自得慧暉), a disciple of Shogaku, described "Roku Gyu-zu" (a picture of six cows). The lineage of Keiki had supported the Soto sect after that.

From the lineage of Rokumon Jikaku, which spread in Hebei Province, Bansho Gyoshu appeared in the Jin period and spread it actively. Gyoshu taught many outstanding disciples such as Rinsen Jurin (林泉従倫), Setsutei Fukuyu and Yaritsu Sozai, and was admired by Shoshu (章宗) (Jin Dynasty). Fukuyu won in the dispute with Ri Shijo, a Taoist of Quanzhen school of Taoism in the Yuan, and spread it whilst based at the Shorin-ji Temple (Shaolin Temple) in Mt. Sung. After that, the Shorin-ji Temple was a base of the Soto sect in Northern China, and it began to use the name of 'Soto Sho sect' (Soto legitimate sect) in the latter part of Ming.

Koho Genmyo, who lived in the Yuan Dynasty Period, expressed its character by a word of 'minute. '

The Hogan sect
It was founded by Hogen Moneki who wrote "Shumon Jukki-ron" (The Ten maladies in practicing Zen) which was the origin of the idea of 'Goke. 'In the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period, the Sen family, a king of Wuyue, guarded the priests of the Hogan sect such as Eimei Dosen (永明道潜), Tendai Tokusho and Eimei Enju, so that it flourished in the Jiangnan district.

In the Sung period, the lineages of Tokusho and Enju declined. Instead of them, the lineages of Seiryo Taikin and Kisu Gijyu were spread. Ungo Dosai (雲居道斉) and his disciple Reiin Bunsho (霊隠文勝) of the Taikin lineage flourished, but it gradually declined and disappeared finally at the end of the Northern Sung period.

Koho Genmyo, who lived in the Yuan Dynasty Period, expressed the sect tradition by the words 'clarification in detail. '

Autumn Scene of Japanese Maple in Ankoku-Zen-Ji Temple in Hyogo

Zen Development in Japan

Zen in Japan
Zen was officially said to be transmitted in the 13th century (in the Kamakura period), but it had been already introduced in the Heian period and there is a record that Zen was lectured at Danrin-ji Temple. In addition, Gyohyo in the Provincial Monastery of Omi Province (Kokubun-ji Temple in Omi), a master of Saicho (a founder of the Tendai sect in Japan), succeeded the lineage of the Northern Sung (Baisong) in China. The lineage of Rinzai Zen began from Eisai who crossed to the Southern Sung of China and brought it back. The lineage of Soto Zen also began after Dogen crossed to China, certified for enlightenment and came back to Japan, but it is known that Dainichibo Nonin had founded Nihon Daruma sect at Tonomine and that some priests of the Soto sect such as Ekan and Gikai had been originally the priests of Nihon Daruma sect before Dogen.

After the Kamakura period, it had spread mainly among samurai and common people and Zen temples (temples belonging to the Zen sect) were built in various places.

The Rinzai sect
The founder of the sect was Gigen RINZAI who lived in Tang. In Japan, it began from Eisei who introduced Rinzai Zen from China, and it has many schools because some masters introduced Shingi (daily regulations in Zen temples) of each age from China to Japan. The present Rinzai sect in Japan is called Koanzen, which was established by Hakuin in the Edo period. The term 'koan' refers to the reports of judgment, but turned out to be used as the conversation of masters as transmitted as Zengoroku (analects about Zen). Each example of koan is counted as Issoku (one), Nisoku (two). Knowing its conversation helps to know the enlightenment. Many Koan are difficult to understand by logical thinking.

Among the Rinzai sect, the Myoshin-ji Temple school is the largest. In the Edo period, the study of the sect was developed by Mujaku Dochu (1653 - 1744), who revised many books, established a detailed method and left enormous writings. His books come up to the standard which is valuable for research even in recent and modern times, and duplicates prepared by using photography are published as books for practical purposes.

The Soto sect
It began to use the name of the Soto sect since the sixth master Sokei Eno and Tozan Ryokai. In Japan it was begun by Dogen, who crossed to China, certified for enlightenment and came back to Japan in 1226. In the following year after coming back, he wrote Fukanzazengi (the first book written by Dogen after coming back to Japan, where the importance of Zen meditation is emphasized) and promoted the tradition of the sect which focused on Shikantaza. The contents of the ascetic practices are characterized by keeping 'Eihei Shingi' (Eihei Rules of Purity) strictly and devoting oneself to mediation without being satisfied with a temporal Kensho (certification of the properties) or seeking an enlightenment in other practices except mediation.

Dogen insisted that his teaching was the 'Buddhism of Seiden' (a correct record) while denying being seen as a sect, and also disliked to be called the Zen sect.

At first he was eager to spread his teaching to lay believers, but in his later years he took the priests-first (see the 12th volume of Shobogenzo (Treasury of the Eye of True Teaching)). After that, Keizan, who founded the Soji-ji Temple, gradually incorporated not only mediation but also ceremonies and the idea of Esoteric Buddhism, which led to a rapid expansion all over the country. It insists that the mediation of the Soto sect does not depend on koan and that devoting oneself to seating (Shikantaza) shows the original self (shushofuji (practice and enlightenment are not separated but combined as if they are one)), but it does not deny koan itself, and some schools actually use koan.

The Fuke sect
It began from Fuke who appeared in the Rinzai Roku (the record of Rinzai's teachings) in the ninth century. There are few records on Fuke. He was famous as a komuso (begging Zen priest of the Fuke sect) traveling while playing a kyotaku (shakuhachi bamboo flute). It was introduced to Japan after Shinchi Kakushin, who had crossed to China from Japan, became a disciple of Son Chosan (孫張参), the 16th head priest of the Chinese Fuke sect, and came back to Japan in 1254. The head temple was the Ichigetsu-dera Temple (present Matsudo City, Chiba Prefecture).

In the Edo period, it was organized by bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun), but it was dissolved by the Meiji Government in 1871 because it had strong ties with the Edo bakufu. It disappeared as a sect and was incorporated into the Rinzai sect (in addition, the Ichigetsu-dera Temple belongs to the present Nichiren Sho Sect). However, its tradition remains in the lineage of masters of shakuhachi bamboo flute or kyotaku flute.

The Obaku sect
It began from the Zen master Ingen Ryuki (Yinyuan Longqi) of the Rinzai sect in China who was invited from Ming in 1654 (in the Edo period). He tried to identify the sect as Rinzai Shin sect, but was not allowed by bakufu, so it is called the Obaku school of the Rinzai sect, and was named after Kiun OBAKU, a master of the Rinzai sect. It was characterized by nenbutsu-zen which combined Zen of the Ming style and nenbutsu (Buddhist invocation), and was known by its sutra chanting being Bonbai (a song in Indian style) in the Ming style using music instruments. In addition, it not only placed Kaidan (Buddhist ordination platform) at the Manpuku-ji Temple in 1663 but also held the meetings of Jukai (handing down the precepts) in various places, which had an impact on the revival movement of commandments in the Edo period. During the Edo period, it was not considered as one sect but seen as one school of the Rinzai sect. It was in 1876 after the Meiji Restoration when it identified itself as the Obaku sect and achieved independence from the Rinzai sect, and it became one of the Zen sects after the Meiji period.

The Zen Buddhism in the world
Zen has spread from Japan to other countries, and Japanese Zen is mostly known in the world.

Zen was introduced by Daisetsu SUZUKI, a Japanese scholar who was said to reach enlightenment, to the United States and Europe in the 20th century, and was spread by Taisen DESHIMARU of the Soto sect in Europe. At present in the 21st century, both the Rinzai sect and the Soto sect have temples in the United States and Europe.

The Entrance path of the Nanzenji Temple in Kyoto
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