Zen is a school of Mahayana Buddhism that developed in China during the 6th century as Chán. From China, Zen spread south to Vietnam, northeast to Korea and east to Japan.
The word Zen is derived from the Japanese pronunciation of the Chinese word Chán, which in turn is derived from the Sanskrit word dhyana, which can be approximately translated as "concentration", "absorption" or "meditative state".
Zen emphasizes the practice of realization of Buddha-nature as self and the personal expression of this insight in daily life for the benefit of others. As such, it de-emphasizes mere knowledge of sutras and doctrine and favors direct realization through zazen.
The teachings of Zen include various sources of Mahayana thought, especially Yogacara, the Tathagatagarbha Sutras and Huayan, with their emphasis on Buddha-nature, totality, and the Bodhisattva-ideal. The Prajñaparamita literature and, to a lesser extent, Madhyamaka have also been influential.