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Difference Between Buddhism and Zen

Buddhism vs Zen

Zen is largely touched by the Taoism. On the other hand, Zen may be considered as a Chinese form of Buddhism, which lays emphasis on experience, and has fewer adherences to teachings and theoretical concepts.

Zen is a school of thought based on Mahayana Buddhism, which is a translation of the Chinese word Chan. The derivation of this word is attributed to a Sanskrit word meaning Meditation.

Buddhism is largely based on the teachings and principles advocated by Lord Buddha, who has been acknowledged as an awakened teacher for sharing his knowledge and aiding the ailing people. His ideologies basically transcended that the sole aim of the human being is to achieve NIRVANA, and get rid of the vicious cycle of birth and rebirth.

Zen stresses on the experiential prajna, which is largely realized as a form of meditation so that a person can get enlightenment. So in practice, it does not emphasize the theoretical conventions and it focuses on the direct, experiential realization through meditation, along with practicing dharma.

The establishment of Zen is conventionally accredited to be in a Shaolin Temple in China, where a South Indian prince from the Pallava Dynasty Bodhidharma came to lecture the special transmission outside scriptures that did not stand upon words.

The appearance of Zen as a distinctive school of Buddhism was first recognized in China in the 7th century AD. It is noted to have grown as a combination of various currents in the Mahayana Buddhist School of Thoughts, that includes Yogacara and Madhyamaka philosophies and is also based upon Prajnaparamita literature. There are a lot of local traditions in China, chiefly Taoism and Huáyán Buddhism that influence Zen.

The Buddhist often visits the temple for meditation, and to make offerings to the Buddha along with other enlightened deities, known as ‘Bodhisatvahs’. Followers of Zen visit the temple to offer prayers to Buddha.

Buddhism originated in Nepal, and Zen originated in China.
Buddhism does not command the faith in a single, creator God, however, they worship a lot of non-creator gods, and refer to them as ‘Buddhas’, or ‘Bodhisatvas’. However, Zen does not believe in a single god.

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  2. The word Zen is derived from Chinese word ‘Chan’ which in turn is derived from the original Sanskrit word ‘Dhyana’ used in India. Dhyana is generally understood as the practice of meditation.

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