An Introduction to Zen
The following contains information from the preface of 101 Zen stories, with additional information added for student reference.
Zen might be called the innner art and design of the Orient. It was rooted in China by the Indian patriach Bodhidharma upon his arrival to the Shaolin Temple in Henan province during the Northern Wei Dynasty* and was carried eastward into Japan by the twelfth century. It has been described as: "A special teaching without scriptures, beyond words and letters, pointing to the mind-essence of man, seeing directly into one's nature, attaining enlightenment."
Zen, has developed from the traditions of Mahayana Buddhism, it is the Japanese transliteration of the Chinese character Chan (traditional Chinese: 禪; simplified Chinese: 禅) which is found in Sanskrit as dhyāna (ध्यान) meaning "meditation."
The Ch'an-Zen masters, instead of being followers of the Buddha, aspire to be his friends and to place themselves in the same responsive relationship with the universe as did all sages. Zen is not a sect but an experience.
The Zen habit of self-searching through meditation to realize one's true nature, with disregard to formalism, with insistence on self-discipline and simplicity of living, ultimately soon won the support of the nobility and ruling classes in China and the profound respect of all levels of philosophical thought in the Orient.
It has been said that if you have Zen in your life, you have no fear, doubt, or confusion. You serve humanity humbly, fulfilling your presence in this world with loving-kindess and observing your passing as a petal falling from a flower.
To study Zen, is to discover the flowering of one's nature.
*Shaolin Temple documents this year as 517 A.D.