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First let's correct something: The Japanese romanization for this character, "Zen" has penetrated the English language. In English, it's almost always incorrectly used for phrases like "That's so zen." Nobody says "That's so meditation" - right? As the title of a sect, this would be like saying, "That's soooo Baptist!"
禪 by itself just means "meditation." In that context, it should not be confined to use by any one religion or sect.
Regardless of the dictionary definition, more often than not, this character is associated with Buddhism. And here is one of the main reasons:
Zen is used as the title of a branch of Mahayana Buddhism which strongly emphasizes the practice of meditation.
However, it should be noted that Buddhism came from India, and "Chan Buddhism" evolved and developed in medieval China. The Chinese character "Chan" was eventually pronounced as "Zen" in Japanese. Chan Buddhists in China have a lot in common with Zen Buddhists in Japan.
More about the history of Zen Buddhism here.
Please also note that the Japanese Kanji character for Zen has evolved a little in Japan, and the two boxes (kou) that you see at the top of the right side of the character have been replaced by three dots with tails. The original character would still be generally understood and recognized in Japanese (it's considered an ancient version in Japan) but if you want the specifically modern Japanese version, please click on the zen Kanji to the right. Technically, there is no difference in Tensho and Reisho versions of Zen since they are ancient character styles that existed long before Japan had a written language.
There is also an alternate/shorthand/simplified Chinese version which has two dots or tails above the right-side radical. This version is also popular for calligraphy in China. If you want this version, just click the character to the right.
Further notes: Zen is just one of seven sects of Buddhism practiced in Japan. The others are 律 Ritsu (or Risshū), 法相 Hossō, 論 Sanron 華嚴 Kegon, 天台 Tendai, and 眞言 Shingon.
禪宗 is one way to title "Zen Buddhism." Because the original pronunciation of Zen in Chinese is Chan, you'll also see this expressed as Chan Buddhism.
From the Buddhist Dictionary:
The Chan, meditative or intuitional, sect usually said to have been established in China by Bodhidharma, the twenty-eighth patriarch, who brought the tradition of the Buddha-mind from India. This sect, believing in direct enlightenment, disregarded ritual and sūtras and depended upon the inner light and personal influence for the propagation of its tenets, founding itself on the esoteric tradition supposed to have been imparted to Kāśyapa by the Buddha, who indicated his meaning by plucking a flower without further explanation. Kāśyapa smiled in apprehension and is supposed to have passed on this mystic method to the patriarchs. The successor of Bodhidharma was 慧可 Huike, and he was succeeded by 僧璨 Sengcan; 道信 Daoxin; 弘忍 Hongren; 慧能 Huineng, and 神秀 Shenxiu, the sect dividing under the two latter into the southern and northern schools: the southern school became prominent, producing 南嶽 Nanyue and 靑原 Qingyuan, the former succeeded by 馬祖 Mazu, the latter by 石頭 Shitou. From Mazu's school arose the five later schools.
心印 is a Buddhist concept that simply stated is "appreciation of truth by meditation."
It's a deep subject, but my understanding is that you can find truth through meditation, and once you've found the truth, you can learn to appreciate it more through further meditation. This title is not commonly used outside of the Buddhist community (your Asian friends may or may not understand it). The literal translation would be something like "the mind seal," I've seen this term translated this way from Japanese Buddhist poetry. But apparently, the seal that is stamped deep in your mind is the truth. You just have to meditate to find it.
Soothill defines it this way: Mental impression, intuitive certainty; the mind is the Buddha-mind in all, which can seal or assure the truth; the term indicates the intuitive method of the Chan (Zen) school, which was independent of the spoken or written word.
See Also: Zen
This is the Chinese and Japanese title for Bodhidharma. This refers to a man commonly known as Damo, reputed as the founder of the Chan (Zen) Buddhism. His original name is believed to be Bodhitara (菩提多羅).
Note: In Japanese, they tend to write the last character as versus . If you choose the Japanese master calligrapher, expect it to be written in the Japanese version.
This encompasses the idea of meditation. It's also a term used to describe a deep form of day-dreaming, exploring one's imagination, the act of contemplating, or the idea of contemplation. 冥想 is often associated with Buddhism, however, the word "Zen" in Japanese (or "Chan" in Chinese) is probably more commonly used (or better known in the west).
See Also: Zen
This title refers to the inner bliss and peace that you can achieve from meditation.
This term transcends a few religions, including Taoism and Buddhism. It can also be translated as "joy of the mystic trance" or simply "meditative bliss."
Amazing that such a complex idea can be expressed in just two Chinese characters. Note that the first character is Chan/Zen (Chinese/Japanese) which means "meditation" in both languages.
This describes the act of sitting in the state of deep meditation. You'll notice that the second character is Chan/Zen, which is often used to title the meditative form of Buddhism. In Korean Hanja, this means "religious meditation" (basically the same as the Chinese definition). This can also be defined as abstract meditation, fixed abstraction, or contemplation.
Buddhists may define this as, sitting in dhyāna, abstract meditation, fixed abstraction, or contemplation.
Japanese note: This will make sense in Japanese but the Kanji shown to the left are partially in ancient/traditional Japanese form. Japanese Buddhists may use 坐禪, 坐禅, 座禪, or 座禅. The most standard/modern Japanese form of this word is shown to the right. Click on the Kanji to the right (instead of the button above) if you want this specifically Japanese version.
In Japanese, this word means innocent, or one with no knowledge of good and evil. It literally means "without mind."
無心 is one of the five spirits of the warrior (budo), and is often used as a Japanese martial arts tenet. Under that context, places such as the Budo Dojo define it this way: "No mind, a mind without ego. A mind like a mirror which reflects and dos not judge." The original term was "mushin no shin," meaning, "mind of no mind." It is a state of mind without fear, anger, or anxiety. Mushin is often described by the phrase, "mizu no kokoro," which means, "mind like water." The phrase is a metaphor describing the pond that clearly reflects it's surroundings when calm but whose images are obscured once a pebble is dropped into its waters.
This has a good meaning in conjunction with Chan / Zen Buddhism in Japan. However, out of that context, it means mindlessness or absent-minded. To non-Buddhists in China, this is associated with doing something without thinking.
In Korean, this usually means indifference.
Use caution and know your audience before ordering this selection.
More info: Wikipedia: Mushin
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The following table may be helpful for those studying Chinese or Japanese...
|Title||Characters||Romaji(Romanized Japanese)||Various forms of Romanized Chinese|
|zen||chán / chan2 / chan||ch`an / chan|
|zen shuu / zenshuu / zen shu / zenshu||chán zōng|
|Appreciation of Truth by Meditation||心印||shin nin / shinnin||xīn yìn / xin1 yin4 / xin yin / xinyin||hsin yin / hsinyin|
|Bodhidharma||菩提達摩 / 菩提達磨|
菩提达摩 / 菩提达磨
|bo dai daru ma|
|pú tí dá mó|
pu2 ti2 da2 mo2
pu ti da mo
|p`u t`i ta mo
pu ti ta mo
|Truth Flashed Through The Mind||參悟|
|cān wù / can1 wu4 / can wu / canwu||ts`an wu / tsanwu / tsan wu|
|Meditation||冥想||mei sou / meisou / mei so / meiso||míng xiǎng|
|Inner Bliss and Peace from Meditation||禪悅|
|chán yuè / chan2 yue4 / chan yue / chanyue||ch`an yüeh / chanyüeh / chan yüeh|
|Sit in Meditation||坐禪|
|za zen / zazen||zuò chán / zuo4 chan2 / zuo chan / zuochan||tso ch`an / tsochan / tso chan|
|mu shin / mushin||wú xīn / wu2 xin1 / wu xin / wuxin||wu hsin / wuhsin|
|In some entries above you will see that characters have different versions above and below a line.|
In these cases, the characters above the line are Traditional Chinese, while the ones below are Simplified Chinese.
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Professional calligraphers are getting to be hard to find these days.
Instead of drawing characters by hand, the new generation in China merely type roman letters into their computer keyboards and pick the character that they want from a list that pops up.
There is some fear that true Chinese calligraphy may become a lost art in the coming years. Many art institutes in China are now promoting calligraphy programs in hopes of keeping this unique form of art alive.
Even with the teachings of a top-ranked calligrapher in China, my calligraphy will never be good enough to sell. I will leave that to the experts.
The same calligrapher who gave me those lessons also attracted a crowd of thousands and a TV crew as he created characters over 6-feet high. He happens to be ranked as one of the top 100 calligraphers in all of China. He is also one of very few that would actually attempt such a feat.
Check out my lists of Japanese Kanji Calligraphy Wall Scrolls and Old Korean Hanja Calligraphy Wall Scrolls.
Some people may refer to this entry as Chan Buddhism Kanji, Chan Buddhism Characters, Chan Buddhism in Mandarin Chinese, Chan Buddhism Characters, Chan Buddhism in Chinese Writing, Chan Buddhism in Japanese Writing, Chan Buddhism in Asian Writing, Chan Buddhism Ideograms, Chinese Chan Buddhism symbols, Chan Buddhism Hieroglyphics, Chan Buddhism Glyphs, Chan Buddhism in Chinese Letters, Chan Buddhism Hanzi, Chan Buddhism in Japanese Kanji, Chan Buddhism Pictograms, Chan Buddhism in the Chinese Written-Language, or Chan Buddhism in the Japanese Written-Language.
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