Vietnamese Thiền

Thiền Buddhism (Vietnamese: Thiền Tông, 禪宗, IPA: [tʰîən təwŋm]) is the Vietnamese name for Chan Buddhism. Thiền is the Sino-Vietnamese pronunciation of Chan (Chinese: ), an abbreviation of the Sanskrit loanword dhyāna "meditation".

Chính điện thiền viện Trúc Lâm, Đà Lạt
Trúc Lâm Temple, Thiền temple outside the resort town of Đà Lạt, Vietnam.


Chan was introduced during the early Chinese domination of Vietnam, 111 BCE to 939 CE, which also accommodated local animism and Cham influences.[1] According to traditional accounts, in 580, an Indian monk named Vinītaruci (Vietnamese: Tì-ni-đa-lưu-chi) who is considered the founder of Thiền, traveled to Vietnam after completing his studies with Sengcan, the third Patriarch of Chan. However, Chan was already present in the country before his arrival. "Thien Buddhism was already established in Vietnam before Vinītaruci's arrival, for Phap Hien studied under and was ... After Vinītaruci's death, Phap Hien built the Temple of Chung-thien at Mount Tu, about twenty miles northwest of Luy-lau."[2]

The sect that Vinītaruci and his lone Vietnamese disciple founded would become known as the oldest branch of Thiền. After a period of obscurity, the Vinītaruci School became one of the most influential Buddhist groups in Vietnam by the 10th century, particularly so under the patriarch Vạn-Hạnh (died 1018). Other Thiền schools were founded during this time, such as the Pháp Vân temple lineage.[3] Other early Vietnamese Thiền schools included that of the Chinese monk Wu Yantong, called Vô Ngôn Thông in Vietnamese, which was associated with the teaching of Mazu Daoyi. Information about these schools can be gleaned from a Chinese language hagiographical work entitled Thiền uyển tập anh "Compendium of Outstanding figures of the Chan Garden", c. 1337.[4] A careful study of the primary sources by Cuong Tu Nguyen however concludes that the legend of Vinītaruci and the accounts of Vô Ngôn Thông are probably fabrications, a version of Vietnamese Buddhist history that "was self-consciously constructed with the composition of the Thiền uyển in medieval Vietnam."[5][6] Cuong Tu Nguyen notes that the kind of Buddhism which was practiced in Vietnam during the Chinese occupation period and before the writing of the TUTA was "a mixture of thaumaturgy, asceticism, and ritualism" which was "very worldly engaged."[5]

Whatever the case, Buddhist culture, literature, arts and architecture thrived during the period of peace and stability of the four Vietnamese dynasties of the Earlier Lê, , Trần and the Later Lê (980-1400).[7][8] During the early Lê and periods, Buddhism became an influential force in court politics and the dynastic elites saw Buddhist clergy as useful assistants in their political agenda which they provided in return for patronage. They were eventually integrated into the structure of the imperial state.[9] During the Lý and Trần dynasties, a "new" court Buddhism arose among the elites which was aligned with Chinese Chan and influenced by Chan literature.[10] Some of the Trần rulers were quite involved in the development of Thiền Buddhism. Trần Thái Tông (1218–77) was known as the "Great Monk King" and wrote various important Buddhist works including Lessons in the Void, A Guide to Zen Buddhism and a Commentary on The Diamond Sutra, as well as poetry.[7]

The first truly Vietnamese Thiền school was founded by the religious emperor Trần Nhân Tông (1258–1308), who became a monk. This was the Trúc Lâm or "Bamboo Grove" school, which evinced a deep influence from Confucian and Taoist philosophy.[1] It seems to have been an elite religion for aristocrats and was also promoted by Chinese monks who traveled to Vietnam to teach.[11] Nevertheless, Trúc Lâm's prestige waned over the following centuries after the Ming conquest (1413-1428) which led to a period of Confucian dominance.[1]

In the 17th century, a group of Chinese monks led by Nguyên Thiều established a vigorous new school, the Lâm Tế, based on the Linji school, which mixed Chan and Pure Land Buddhism.[1] A more domesticated offshoot of Lâm Tế, the Liễu Quán, was founded in the 18th century by a monk by the name of Liễu Quán. Lâm Tế remains the largest monastic order in the country today.[12]

Vietnamese Buddhism suffered from political oppression during the colonial era of French Indochina, both by pro-Confucian mandarins and French colonial policies.[1]

Modern Vietnamese Thiền was influenced by the Buddhist modernism of figures like Taixu and D. T. Suzuki, who saw Buddhism in terms of social and personal transformation, rather than in supernatural terms.[13] During the 1930s, a Buddhist reform movement led by intellectual clergy of "engaged Buddhism" focused on issues such as welfare activities, education and modernization. The modernization movement also argued against popular devotion, arguing that Buddhism should be "purified from superstition".[14] In 1963, in response to a hostile government, Vietnamese Mahayana and Theravada Buddhists formed the Unified Buddhist Church.[1] Thích Trí Quang led South Vietnamese Buddhists in acts of civil resistance in protest of the South Vietnamese government's repression of Buddhists during the "Buddhist crisis" of '63.

Thiền master Thích Thanh Từ (1924–) is credited for renovating Trúc Lâm in Vietnam. He is one of the most prominent and influential Thiền masters currently alive. He was a disciple of Master Thích Thiện Hoa. The most famous practitioner of modern Thiền Buddhism in the West is Thích Nhất Hạnh (1926–) who has authored dozens of books and founded the Plum Village Monastery in France together with his colleague, Thiền Master bhikkhuni Chân Không. Another influential teacher in the West was Thích Thiên-Ân, who taught philosophy at University of California, Los Angeles and founded a meditation center in L.A. In recent years, the modernization of Thiền has taken a new global dimension, as Vietnamese Zen is becoming influenced by the teachings of influential overseas Vietnamese Buddhist leaders such as Thích Nhất Hạnh who have adopted Thiền to Western needs. As a result, Vietnamese Buddhists have also now begun to practice these modernized forms of Thiền.[15]

This modernist form of Thiền has become quite popular at home and abroad, in spite of the fact that there is still no complete freedom of religion in contemporary Vietnam.[16] Commenting on the current situation in Vietnam, Philip Taylor writes:

The flow of Buddhist practitioners, texts and ideas throughout Vietnam and across national boundaries sets the context for another recent development in Buddhism in Vietnam, the increasing prominence given in northern Vietnam to Zen (Thiền) as the quintessential Vietnamese Buddhist tradition....Southern Vietnam's intense transnational connections have enabled the repatriation and the circulation to elsewhere in Vietnam of the markedly meditative form of Buddhism developed by Vietnamese emigre monks based in the United States and France...Ironically, this recently imported purified form of Buddhism has come to be taken as a national tradition, a view which receives endorsement from the state, motivated, as are many lay Buddhists, to attach itself to an authentic national tradition that is not sullied by the taint of superstition....Today, the Communist Party seeks to boost its legitimacy by endorsing Zen a version of Buddhism promoted by a transnational movement, as an authentic national tradition.[17]

Teaching and practice

Buddhist Monk Service Hue Vietnam.jpeg
Thiền monks performing a service in Huế.

Thiền draws its texts and practices mainly from the Chinese Chan tradition as well as other schools of Chinese Buddhism. According to Thích Thiên-Ân:

most Buddhist monks and laymen in Vietnam traditionally obey the disciplines of Hinayana, recite mantra, learn mudra, practice meditation, and chant the Buddha's name (V. niệm Phật, Ch. Nien-fo, J. Nembutsu) without any conflict between the practices. We may say, in short, that Buddhism in Vietnam is synthetic and unified rather than divided and sectarian. At present the popular method of practice is meditation during recitation and recitation during meditation - meditation and recitation being one and the same for Vietnamese Buddhists.[18]

This practice is known as the "union of Zen and Pure-Land recitation".[18] The chanting of sutras, such as the Lotus sutra, the Vimalakirti, Surangama Samadhi and Mahaparinirvana sutra is also a very widespread practice, as in all schools of Zen.[19]

Due to the presence of Theravada Buddhism in Vietnam, Thiên has also been influenced by Theravada practices. The intra-religious dialogue between Vietnamese Theravada and Mahayana following the formation of the Unified Buddhist Church also led to a more inclusive attitude in the Vietnamese Buddhist community.[7] An example is the widely influential figure of Thích Nhất Hạnh (b. 1926), who, as John Chapman notes, though being part of the Lam Te school, also included Theravada as part of his studies.[20] Thích Nhất Hạnh has also written commentaries on the Theravada Satipatthana sutta and the Anapanasati sutta. According to Chapman, He sought to ‘promote the idea of a humanistic, unified Buddhism.’[20] He founded the Order of Interbeing as a new modernist and humanistic form of Vietnamese Zen.

McHale also notes that Vietnamese Buddhist practice has always been inclusive and accepting of popular beliefs and practices, including folk religion, Taoism and Confucianism.[21]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f Johnston, William M. (editor), Encyclopedia of Monasticism, p. 276.
  2. ^ Keith Weller Taylor, The Birth of Vietnam 1983, p. 157
  3. ^ K. W. Taylor, John K. Whitmore; Essays Into Vietnamese Pasts, Cornell University Press, 2018, p. 103.
  4. ^ K. W. Taylor, John K. Whitmore; Essays Into Vietnamese Pasts, Cornell University Press, 2018, p. 81.
  5. ^ a b K. W. Taylor, John K. Whitmore; Essays Into Vietnamese Pasts, Cornell University Press, 2018, pp. 102, 107.
  6. ^ Cuong Tu Nguyen, Zen in Medieval Vietnam: A Study and Translation of the Thiền uyển tập anh, University of Hawaii Press, 1997, p. 21.
  7. ^ a b c Dietrich, Angela, The Roots of Interbeing: Buddhist Revival in Vietnam
  8. ^ Thích Quảng Liên, "A Short Introduction of Buddhism in Vietnam", 1968.
  9. ^ Cuong Tu Nguyen, Zen in Medieval Vietnam: A Study and Translation of the Thiền uyển tập anh, University of Hawaii Press, 1997, p. 13-14.
  10. ^ Cuong Tu Nguyen, Zen in Medieval Vietnam: A Study and Translation of the Thiền uyển tập anh, University of Hawaii Press, 1997, p. 19.
  11. ^ Cuong Tu Nguyen, Zen in Medieval Vietnam: A Study and Translation of the Thiền uyển tập anh, University of Hawaii Press, 1997, p. 21.
  12. ^ Powers, John, A Concise Encyclopedia of Buddhism, Oneworld Publications, 2013 , p.238
  13. ^ Borup, Jørn; Qvortrup Fibiger, Marianne; Eastspirit: Transnational Spirituality and Religious Circulation in East and West, BRILL, 2017, p. 168.
  14. ^ Hanna Havnevik, Ute Hüsken, Mark Teeuwen, Vladimir Tikhonov, Koen Wellens (ed.), Buddhist Modernities: Re-inventing Tradition in the Globalizing Modern World, Taylor & Francis, 2017, p. 189.
  15. ^ Hanna Havnevik, Ute Hüsken, Mark Teeuwen, Vladimir Tikhonov, Koen Wellens (ed.), Buddhist Modernities: Re-inventing Tradition in the Globalizing Modern World, Taylor & Francis, 2017, p. 189.
  16. ^ Hanna Havnevik, Ute Hüsken, Mark Teeuwen, Vladimir Tikhonov, Koen Wellens (ed.), Buddhist Modernities: Re-inventing Tradition in the Globalizing Modern World, Taylor & Francis, 2017, pp. 183, 188.
  17. ^ Hanna Havnevik, Ute Hüsken, Mark Teeuwen, Vladimir Tikhonov, Koen Wellens (ed.), Buddhist Modernities: Re-inventing Tradition in the Globalizing Modern World, Taylor & Francis, 2017, p.188.
  18. ^ a b Thich Thien-an, Buddhism & Zen in Vietnam: In Relation to the Development of Buddhism in Asia, Tuttle Publishing, 1992, p. 3.
  19. ^ Andronic, Mihaela, To be is to inter-be, Philosophical Teachings of Thích Nhất Nhất Hạnh, 2011.
  20. ^ a b Chapman, John, The 2005 Pilgrimage and Return to Vietnam of Exiled Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, in: Taylor, Philip Modernity and Re-enchantment: Religion in Post-revolutionary Vietnam.
  21. ^ McHale, Shawn F., Print and Power: Confucianism, Communism and Buddhism in the Making of Modern Vietnam, 2004

External links

Chanyuan Qinggui

The Chanyuan qinggui (Chinese: 禪苑清規; pinyin: Chányuàn qīngguī; Wade–Giles: Ch'an-yüan ch'ing-kuei; Japanese: 禅苑清規, Zenen Shingi; Korean: Sōnwōn chō'nggyu; Vietnamese: Thiền Uyển Thanh Quy) or The Rules of Purity in the Chan Monastery, is a highly influential set of rules for Zen monasteries compiled by the Chinese monk Changlu Zongze in 1103. Although many other monastic codes aimed at the Zen school would follow, Chanyuan qinggui is the oldest extant work of its kind. Prior to the Rules of Purity, various translations of Indian Vinaya texts had existed in China since the fifth century, while Chinese monks beginning with Daoan has created sangha regulations in the 4th century. However, none was extensive or geared towards any particular sect that existed at that time. Both types of regulations has a direct influence on Chanyuan qinggui, but neither aimed to be nearly as extensive or authoritative. The text regulates nearly all aspects of daily life in a monastery, from the proper protocol for ceremonies to the correct way to visit the toilet. It also includes the Tso-chan-i, the earliest known Chan Buddhist guide to sitting meditation.

The text became the standard reference for its topic not only in Song Dynasty China, but also well into the Yuan Dynasty, as well as abroad in Korea and Japan.

Guiyang school

The Guiyang school (Chinese: 潙仰宗; pinyin: Guīyǎng Zōng, also read Weiyang School) is one of the sects of Chan Buddhism.

Gyokuko Carlson

Gyokuko Carlson (born Andrea Gass) is a Soto Zen roshi and abbess of Dharma Rain Zen Center in Portland, Oregon, United States. She was formerly the co-abbot along with her husband, the late Kyogen Carlson. Carlson and her husband practiced at Shasta Abbey when Jiyu Kennett was the abbess (and from whom she received Dharma transmission), leaving to found their own center in 1986 when celibacy became a requirement at Shasta Abbey. She has been a practitioner of Zen Buddhism for more than thirty years, and is a member of the American Zen Teachers Association.Gyokuko and Kyogen Carlson have come to be known as the major non-Shasta Abbey line in succession to Jiyu Kennett; their Zen center has become the largest Zen congregation in Oregon. Carlson's main teaching emphasis is the implementation of spiritual practice into daily life. Her family religious education program was developed from Unitarian Universalist practices, transformed by Buddhist principles. It is the largest Buddhist child education program in Oregon, and one of the largest and oldest in the United States.


A khakkhara (Sanskrit: khakkhara; Tibetan: འཁར་གསིལ, THL: khar sil; Chinese: 錫杖; pinyin: xīzhàng; Japanese pronunciation: shakujō; Korean: 석장; romaja: seokjang; "tin stick"; Vietnamese: thiền trượng; "Zen stick") is a Buddhist ringed staff used primarily in prayer or as a weapon that originates from India. The jingling of the staff's rings is used to warn small sentient beings such as insects to move from the carrier's path and avoid being accidentally trodden on. In ancient times, it was used also to scare away dangerous animals. Ringing also is used to alert the faithful that there is a monastic within earshot in need of alms.

In the Sarvāstivāda vinaya, the khakkhara is called the "sounding staff" because of the tinkling sound the rings make.

A khakkhara may have either four rings representing the Four Noble Truths, six rings representing the Six Perfections, or twelve rings representing the twelvefold chain of cause and effect. A four ring khakkhara is carried by novice monks, a six ring khakkhara is carried by a Bodhisattva, and a twelve ring khakkhara is carried by the Buddha. Most commonly seen are those with six rings which have also been claimed to represent the six states of existence (humans, animals, hell, hungry ghosts, gods, and asuras).

In Chinese monasteries, the abbot of the temple usually wields the staff during grand ceremonies, symbolizing the hierarchy of the abbot. The abbot would usually take the khakkhara and strike the ground thrice then shaking it, symbolizing the breaking of ignorance and calling out to all beings.

The wooden shaft can either be long for use as a walking stick or short to accompany in chanting. As a staff, the khakkhara could be wielded as a weapon; in Chinese wuxia novels the khakkhara is often the weapon of warrior monks, especially those of Shaolin Monastery. It has been used in defensive techniques by traveling Buddhist monks all over Asia for centuries and monks at the Shaolin temple in China specialized in its use.

In Japan the shakujō became a formidable weapon in the hands of a practiced Buddhist monk. It could be used as a staff to block and parry attacks and the metal rings at the tip could be slammed into an opponent's face to momentarily blind him. At the very tip of the metal finial is a sharp point which can be used to attack weak points of the body. The bottom end of the khakkhara has a metal butt which can be used to thrust and hit an opponent. An opponent's weapons can also be easily deflected.

A notable carrier of the staff is Kṣitigarbha, the bodhisattva of children and travelers. He is usually depicted holding a khakkhara in his right hand.

Shorinji Kempo also contains methods of self-defense using the khakkhara but these methods are rarely practiced today.

In popular fiction, fictional Buddhists and tengu are often depicted carrying and even fighting with a khakkhara.

Pháp Hiền

Pháp Hiền (died 626) was a Vietnamese Buddhist monk notable in the early history of Buddhism in Vietnam, Vietnamese Thiền or Chinese Chán Zen Buddhism in Vietnam.

Pháp Hiền studied under Quán Duyên, a Zen master at chùa Quán Vân, or Phap-van Temple, then under the Indian monk Vinītaruci. After the latter's death, Pháp Hiền built the Chúng Thiện pagoda at a mountain named Thiên Phúc or Tiên Du, northwest of Luy Lâu.

Pháp Loa

Pháp Loa (法螺, 1284-1330) was a Vietnamese Thiền Buddhist monk of the Trúc Lâm Yên Tử sect, and second patriarch of that sect. He was a disciple of Buddhist king Trần Nhân Tông (1258–1308).A recently discovered inscription at Thanh Mai temple gives biographical details similar to the Tam tổ thực lục.

Rochester Zen Center

The Rochester Zen Center (RZC) is a Sōtō and Rinzai Zen Buddhist sangha in the Kapleau lineage, located in Rochester, New York and established in 1966 by Philip Kapleau. It is one of the oldest Zen centers in the United States.

Sōyū Matsuoka

Dr. Soyu Matsuoka (松岡 操雄, 1912–1997), along with Sokei-an and Nyogen Senzaki, was one of the early Zen teachers to make the United States his home.


Thiên is a Vietnamese word which can refer to:

Vietnamese Thiền

as part of a personal nameLê Hoàng Thiên

Mẫu Thượng Thiên

Quốc Thiên

Thiên Y A Na

Thừa Thiên (empress)

Thuận Thiên (Trần dynasty empress)

Thuận Thiên (Nguyễn dynasty empress)

Thiền uyển tập anh

Collection of Outstanding Figures of the Zen Garden (Chinese: 禪苑集英, Vietnamese: Thiền uyển tập anh) is a Chinese-language Vietnamese Buddhist biographical text dating to 1337. It connects the history of Buddhism in Vietnam with China and has aspects of a Dharma transmission text modelled on The Transmission of the Lamp genre.

Thầy Temple

Chùa Thầy (Thầy Temple or Master's Temple) is a Buddhist temple in Quốc Oai District (formerly Hà Tây Province, now part of Hanoi), Vietnam. The temple is also known as "Thiên Phúc Tự" (Chinese: 天福寺, "Temple of Heavenly Blessings"). The temple was established in the 11th century during the reign of Emperor Nhân Tông of the Lý dynasty. It is dedicated to Vietnamese Thiền master Từ Đạo Hạnh (Chinese: 徐道行, 1072-1116). It is one of the oldest Buddhist temples in Vietnam, It is well maintained by the monks.The temple is a centre of pilgrimage during Tết.

Trúc Lâm

Trúc Lâm Yên Tử (竹林安子), or simply Trúc Lâm ("Bamboo Grove"), is a Vietnamese Thiền (i.e. zen) sect. It is the only native school of Buddhism in Vietnam. The school was founded by Emperor Trần Nhân Tông (1258–1308) showing influence from Confucian and Taoist philosophy. Trúc Lâm's prestige later waned as Confucianism became dominant in the royal court.

A revival was attempted by later adherents including Ngô Thì Nhậm (1746–1803) during the Tay Son dynasty. Nhậm attempted to harmonize the "Three teachings" of Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism.In modern times, Zen Master Venerable Thích Thanh Từ has revived the Trúc Lâm Zen lineage by combining the teachings of the three early Patriarchs of the tradition: Trần Nhân Tông, Pháp Loa, and Huyền Quang. His efforts are brought forth from the principles of three Patriarchs whom he believes have minimal amounts of transition from traditional Chinese Buddhism. Thích Thanh Từ claims to be re-establishing the Trúc Lâm traditions but in his own way has modified it from its original ways. He wasn't much of a global influence in his earlier years of work, but in recent history has been on top of Buddhist movements on the global level. His initial work in Vietnam has now moved onwards to western civilization by getting his word across through the translation of books that he has written. He is having the most influence on today's view on Buddhism and what it means to be a Buddhist monk through the implementation of the revived religion referred to as Trúc Lâm.

Trúc Lâm Temple

Trúc Lâm Temple (Vietnamese: Thiền Viện Trúc Lâm Sino-Vietnamese: 禪院竹林) is a Zen Buddhist temple outside the resort town of Da Lat, in Vietnam.


The Vassa (Pali: vassa-, Sanskrit: varṣa-, both "rain") is the three-month annual retreat observed by Theravada practitioners. Taking place during the wet season, Vassa lasts for three lunar months, usually from July (the Burmese month of Waso, ဝါဆို) to October (the Burmese month of Thadingyut သီတင်းကျွတ်).In English, Vassa is often glossed as Rains Retreat or Buddhist Lent, the latter by analogy to the Christian Lent (which Vassa predates by at least five centuries).

For the duration of Vassa, monastics remain in one place, typically a monastery or temple grounds. In some monasteries, monks dedicate the Vassa to intensive meditation. Some Buddhist lay people choose to observe Vassa by adopting more ascetic practices, such as giving up meat, alcohol, or smoking. While Vassa is sometimes casually called "Buddhist Lent", others object to this terminology. Commonly, the number of years a monk has spent in monastic life is expressed by counting the number of vassas (or rains) since ordination.

Most Mahayana Buddhists do not observe Vassa, though Vietnamese Thiền and Korean Seon monastics observe an equivalent retreat of three months of intensive practice in one location, a practice also observed in Tibetan Buddhism.

Vassa begins on the first day of the waning moon of the eighth lunar month, which is the day after Asalha Puja or Asalha Uposatha ("Dhamma day"). It ends on Pavarana, when all monastics come before the sangha and atone for any offense that might have been committed during Vassa.

Vassa is followed by Kathina, a festival in which the laity expresses gratitude to monks. Lay Buddhists bring donations to temples, especially new robes for the monks.The Vassa tradition predates the time of Gautama Buddha. It was a long-standing custom for mendicant ascetics in India not to travel during the rainy season as they may unintentionally harm crops, insects or even themselves during their travels. Many Buddhist ascetics live in regions which lack a rainy season. Consequently, there are places where Vassa may not be typically observed.


Vinītaruci (?-594) was an Indian Buddhist monk who preached in China and Vietnam.

He came to Changan in 573 and spent 7 years in China. In 580 he came to support preaching of Buddhism in Vietnam, being notable as one of the first direct influences on Vietnam in the History of Buddhism in India and in the development of Vietnamese Thiền or Chinese Chán Zen Buddhism in Vietnam. He is known in Vietnam as Tì-ni-đa-lưu-chi (from the Sino-Vietnamese transcription of the Sanskrit 毘尼多流支) and also by the Chinese Sino-Vietnamese name Diệt Hỉ (滅喜) in Chinese-language texts of Vietnamese Buddhism. He was from Oḍḍiyāna, traditionally identified as a place in the Swat valley.

Walking meditation

Walking meditation, also known as kinhin (Chinese: 経行; pinyin: jīngxíng; Japanese pronunciation: kinhin, kyōgyō; Korean: gyeonghyaeng; Vietnamese: kinh hành) is the walking meditation that is practiced between long periods of the sitting meditation known as zazen. The practice is common in Zen, Chan Buddhism, Korean Seon and Vietnamese Thiền.

White Plum Asanga

White Plum Asanga, sometimes termed White Plum Sangha, is a Zen school in the Hakuyu Taizan Maezumi lineage, created by Hakuyu Taizan Maezumi. It consists of Maezumi's Dharma heirs and subsequent successors and students. A diverse organization spread across the United States and with a small presence in Europe, the White Plum Asanga

[I]ncludes teachers who represent the spectrum of styles to be found to American Zen—socially engaged Buddhism, family practice, Zen and the arts, secularized Zen, and progressive traditionalism."

Conceived of informally in 1979 by Maezumi and Tetsugen Bernard Glassman, the White Plum Asanga was named after Maezumi's father Baian Hakujun Dai-osho and then later incorporated in 1995 following Maezumi's death. Tetsugen Bernard Glassman was the White Plum Asanga's first President and his successor was Dennis Genpo Merzel. Following Merzel's term, in May 2007, Gerry Shishin Wick served as elected President of White Plum, until 2013 when Anne Seisen Saunders became the current president.


Zen (Chinese: 禪; pinyin: Chán; Korean: 선, romanized: Seon) is a school of Mahayana Buddhism that originated in China during the Tang dynasty, then known as the Chan School (Chánzong 禅宗) and later developed into various schools. It was strongly influenced by Taoist philosophy, especially Neo-Daoist thought, and developed as a distinct school of Chinese Buddhism. From China, Chán spread south to Vietnam and became Vietnamese Thiền, northeast to Korea to become Seon Buddhism, and east to Japan, becoming Japanese Zen.The term Zen is derived from the Japanese pronunciation of the Middle Chinese word 禪 (Chán), which traces its roots to the Indian practice of dhyāna ("meditation"). Zen emphasizes rigorous self-control, meditation-practice, insight into the nature of things (Ch. jianxing, Jp. kensho, "perceiving the true nature"), and the personal expression of this insight in daily life, especially for the benefit of others. As such, it de-emphasizes mere knowledge of sutras and doctrine and favors direct understanding through spiritual practice and interaction with an accomplished teacher.The teachings of Zen include various sources of Mahayana thought, especially Yogachara, the Tathāgatagarbha sūtras and the Huayan school, with their emphasis on Buddha-nature, totality, and the Bodhisattva-ideal. The Prajñāpāramitā literature as well as Madhyamaka thought have also been influential in the shaping of the apophatic and sometimes iconoclastic nature of Zen rhetoric.

Zen master

Zen master is a somewhat vague English term that arose in the first half of the 20th century, sometimes used to refer to an individual who teaches Zen Buddhist meditation and practices, usually implying longtime study and subsequent authorization to teach and transmit the tradition themselves.


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