Introduction to Zen Buddhism

Prof. Evgueni A. Tortchinov
Departament of Oriental Philosophy and Cultural Studies
Faculty of Philosophy
St. Petersburg State University

Zen Buddhism, called Ch’an in China refers to itself as the heart of Buddhist practice, as the goal is to delve into the nature of your heart and mind to find the enlightened Buddha nature. The main practice of Zen is meditation, through which knowledge of one’s true nature emerges.

The first patriarch of Zen was Bodhidharma, an Indian monk in the 6th century who brought his teachings to China. Over the following two centuries a schism in Zen resulted in two main approaches, the northern that postulates a gradual process to enlightenment, and the southern that held sudden enlightenment as a real possibility. These approaches are represented now by the Soto and Rinzai sects in Japan.

Zen belief, practice and history are further expounded in this lecture, which special attention paid to the Zen paradox.