The word Zen is derived from the Japanese pronunciation of the Middle Chinese word 禪, which in turn is derived from the Sanskrit word dhyāna, which can be approximately translated as "absorption" or "meditative state".
Zen emphasizes insight into Buddha-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 zazen and interaction with an accomplished teacher.
The teachings of Zen include various sources of Mahāyāna thought, especially Yogācāra, the Tathāgatagarbha Sutras and Huayan, with their emphasis on Buddha-nature, totality, and the Bodhisattva-ideal. The Prajñāpāramitā literature and, to a lesser extent, Madhyamaka have also been influential.
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