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This title can be defined as Zen contemplation in Japanese, or sit quietly in (Buddhist) meditation in Chinese. It also carries a similar meaning in Korean Hanja. Therefore, this is a rather universal term for meditation in the context of Buddhism throughout the Orient.
Can also be translated as "Meditatively equipoised" or "enter into meditation by stilling the karmic activities of deed, speech, and thought".
The original Sanskrit word is samapanna. In Tibetan: snyoms par zhugs pa.
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has evolved a little in Japan, and the two boxes (kou) that you see at the top of the right side of the character have been replaced by three dots with tails.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.
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 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.
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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 Contemplation||入定||rù dìng / ru4 ding4 / ru ding / ruding||ju ting / juting|
|zen||chán / chan2 / chan||ch`an / chan|
|Meditation||冥想||mei sou / meisou / mei so / meiso||míng xiǎng|
|Sit in Meditation||坐禪|
|za zen / zazen||zuò chán / zuo4 chan2 / zuo chan / zuochan||tso ch`an / tsochan / tso chan|
|Truth Flashed Through The Mind||參悟|
|cān wù / can1 wu4 / can wu / canwu||ts`an wu / tsanwu / tsan wu|
|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.
Below are some entries from our dictionary that may match your zen contemplation search...
If shown, 2nd row is Simp. Chinese
|Simple Dictionary Definition|
| shàn / shan4
zen / ゆずり
(out-dated kanji) (1) (Buddhist term) dhyana (profound meditation); (2) (abbreviation) Zen (Buddhism); (surname) Yuzuri
To level a place for an altar, to sacrifice to the hills and fountains; to abdicate. Adopted by Buddhists for dhyāna, 禪 or 禪那, i.e. meditation, abstraction, trance. dhyāna is 'meditation, thought, reflection, especially profound and abstract religious contemplation'. M.W. It was intp. as 'getting rid of evil', etc., later as 靜慮 quiet meditation. It is a form of 定, but that word is more closely allied with samādhi, cf. 禪定. The term also connotes Buddhism and Buddhist things in general, but has special application to the 禪宗 q.v. It is one of the six pāramitās, cf. 波. There are numerous methods and subjects of meditation. The eighteen brahmalokas are divided into four dhyāna regions 'corresponding to certain frames of mind where individuals might be reborn in strict accordance with their spiritual state'. The first three are the first dhyāna, the second three the second dhyāna, the third three the third dhyāna, and the remaining nine the fourth dhyāna. See Eitel. According to Childers' Pali Dictionary, 'The four jhānas are four stages of mystic meditation, whereby the believer's mind is purged from all earthly emotions, and detached as it were from his body, which remains plunged in a profound trance.' Seated cross-legged, the practiser 'concentrates his mind upon a single thought. Gradually his soul becomes filled with a supernatural ecstasy and serenity', his mind still reasoning: this is the first jhāna. Concentrating his mind on the same subject, he frees it from reasoning, the ecstasy and serenity remaining, which is the second jhāna. Then he divests himself of ecstasy, reaching the third stage of serenity. Lastly, in the fourth stage the mind becomes indifferent to all emotions, being exalted above them and purified. There are differences in the Mahāyāna methods, but similarity of aim.
| dì sān chán / di4 san1 chan2
ti san ch`an / ti san chan
The third dhyāna, a degree of contemplation in which ecstasy gives way to serenity; also a state, or heaven, corresponding to this degree of contemplation, including the third three of the rūpa heavens; third meditation [heaven]
| dì èr chán / di4 er4 chan2
ti erh ch`an / ti erh chan
The second dhyāna, a degree of contemplation where reasoning gives way to intuition. The second three rūpa heavens; second concentration
| dì sì chán / di4 si4 chan2
ti ssu ch`an / ti ssu chan
The fourth dhyāna, a degree of contemplation when the mind becomes indifferent to pleasure and pain; also the last eight rūpa heavens; fourth concentration
| yī zhǐ tóu chán / yi1 zhi3 tou2 chan2
i chih t`ou ch`an / i chih tou chan
ichishi zu zen
The one finger-tip contemplation used by a certain monk to bring to another a conception of the universe. Also a parable in the 楞伽經 Laṅkāvatāra-sūtra. The Chan or Zen sect 禪宗 regard the sūtras merely as indicators, i.e. pointing fingers, their real object being only attained through personal mediation; one-finger Chan
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