Chan: The Meditation School

What is Chan Buddhism?

 Chan Buddhism is a path that of cultivation. We are cultivating clarity, awareness, compassion, and the wisdom of going beyond our narrow point of view.

Chan is a branch of Buddhism, but maybe it’s more than that. It’s a way of being in the world. We are trying to, through mind training, have a direct awakening that helps us understand the world and our place in it.

Chan is called the Meditation School. When people said, “Chan Buddhists” they meant, “Those Buddhists over there who meditate.”

The Japanese version of the Chan tradition is called Zen, which is a  word a lot more people are familiar with.

The meditation tradition was created as an effort to focus more on the core teachings of Buddhism: the cultivation of mindfulness and awareness. Chan Buddhism is focused on this life, here and now. Our true nature is something that’s always present and not something we have to wait for. We can all dwell in wakefulness right now, in this life, not in some future one.

In the Chan tradition practice isn’t separated from our lives. Practice involves the cultivation of mindfulness, compassion, wisdom, and intuition.

We do traditional mind training practices in sitting still. But we also cultivate mindfulness in day to day life. In our busy lives there are opportunities to find a few moments to stop, relax, and clear our minds.

We have a constructed image in our minds of who we are and what the world is. Chan is about being in the moment without the constructs. Dropping ego. Dropping the past and our thoughts about the future and engaging with the present moment. Master Dogen called it “The dropping away of body and mind.”

Easier said than done. Our minds want to do anything but stay in this moment. Chan involves learning to quiet our minds and penetrate through these layers of delusion. Chan is teaching our minds how to sit still and how to se things clearly.

We do this by following a set of principles: meditation, mindfulness, and morality.

Want to know more?


Welcome to Chinese Zen by John Crook

Chan Practice by Mark ShenYun Gilenson

Principles of Chan Buddhism by Daniel Scharpenburg

The Flower and the Smile by Daniel Scharpenburg