Zen is a school of Mahayana Buddhism. The word Zen is from the Japanese pronunciation of the Chinese word Chan, which in turn is derived from the Sanskrit word dhyana, which can be approximately translated as "meditation" or "meditative state".

Zen emphasizes experiential Wisdom in the attainment of enlightenment. As such, it de-emphasizes theoretical knowledge in favor of direct realization through meditation and dharma practice. The teachings of Zen include various sources of Mahayana thought, including the Prajnaparamita literature and the teachings of the Yogacara and Tathagatagarbha schools.

The emergence of Zen as a distinct school of Buddhism was first documented in China in the 7th century CE. From China, Zen spread south to Vietnam, and east to Korea and Japan. As a matter of tradition, the establishment of Zen is credited to the Persian[1] or South Indian Pallava prince-turned-monk Bodhidharma, who came to China to teach a "special transmission outside scriptures, not founded on words or letters".