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Chan Buddhism

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Chan Buddhism is a major Chinese Buddhist sect attributed to Bodhidharma that emphasizes attaining Buddhahood, the supreme Buddhist religious goal, through enlightenment of one’s own mind, which subsequently spreaded to Japan and named as Zen. In Chan Buddhism, the word “Chan” comes from “Dhyana” in Sanskrit (Soothill and Hodous, 1937), which refers to meditation, samadhi (one-pointed concentration or perfect absorption), but nevertheless goes beyond the meaning of dhyana to become the manifestation of wisdom with simultaneous perfect composure of the mind (Huineng, 1969).

With its focus on personal enlightenment of the mind in the present life, Chan Buddhism is characterized from the other Buddhist sects by its disrespect for religious rituals, sacred texts, godly figures or intellectual understanding, but instead emphasizes on meditation, intuition, master-student relationship and practising and realizing within the mundane here-and-now life.

Development of the Enlightenment Sect


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Chan, WS. (2010). Chan Buddhism. In: Leeming, D.A., Madden, K., Marlan, S. (eds) Encyclopedia of Psychology and Religion. Springer, Boston, MA.

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