Zen's Roots

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The Buddha and Buddhism — Zen's roots

Zen has its origins in China. Here the first Zen masters taught and the first recognizably Zen monasteries were founded.

Zen's deepest roots, however, are in India where Siddhartha Gautama was born, attained enlightenment and began teaching what we now call Buddhism. His life story is of more than historical interest — for Zen followers he is the supreme model of one who has followed the Way to its end and achieved perfect enlightenment. The Zen follower believes that each of us has the potential to follow the Buddha's path to complete awakening.

Because the Buddha's life story is told in the Ashoka courses The Buddha's Teaching As It Is, we present here only the briefest outline, focusing on the aspects of the Buddha's life that Zen Buddhism most closely identified with Zen tradition.