About Zen Buddhism


Buddhism originated in India with Siddhartha Gautama in the 6th Century B.C. Although his father was the ruler of the kingdom of the Shakyas, Siddhartha renounced his life of luxury and left his father's kingdom in search of a solution to the existential suffering that he experienced himself and observed in those around him. He studied with many religious teachers and submitted himself to rigorous ascetic practices but still could not find the way to be free. He renounced all traditional religions and after years of meditation was able to pass beyond the world of intellectual distinctions and opposites to reach a level of unsurpassed integration, which is called Enlightenment. After that time, he was known as Buddha, the Awakened One.


Dharma refers to the absolute truth or reality (as opposed to our ideas or beliefs about truth or reality) or to the teachings of those who have awakened to this. Buddhism is not a system of religious dogmas. Rather, it presents a way by which all can awaken to their own Buddha-nature. Buddha Shakyamuni's teaching states that the outstanding characteristic of the human situation is frustration, which arises because of our difficulty in accepting the basic fact of life that everything around us is impermanent and transitory. Our wish to divide the perceived world into fixed, individual, and separate things does not fit with the fluid and indefinable nature of reality. In manifesting enlightenment, one is freed from these notions.


The teaching of the Buddha quickly spread from India over much of Asia. By the beginning of the Common Era, it had developed into at least eighteen schools. The Zen School was brought to China (where it is called Ch'an) from India in the 6th Century A.D. and developed into five main sub-schools. By the 13th Century, the first Soto Zen School, one of the main five, was established in Japan by Dogen Zenji.
Zen is characterized by a central focus on the practice of seated meditation (zazen), and the direct transmission of Dharma from teacher to disciple. Zen practice in itself manifests the unity and harmony of all existence and is not limited to sitting meditation but extends to all areas of daily life.
Zen Center of Pittsburgh
124 Willow Ridge Road - Sewickley, PA 15143 - 412-741-1262