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Main Principles of Chan

Chan is the school of Chinese Buddhism. It is also a term that refers to a way of living or experiencing the world. But ultimately, Chan means direct awakening to interconnectedness and impermanence, and the consequent arising of Buddhist wisdom and compassion.

Chan can’t be verbalized. It can only be experienced.

The practice is life. Life is the practice.

Four Pillars of Chan Buddhism.


1.Not relying upon words. Impossible to get enlightenment simply by reading sutras.

2.Teaching couldn’t be transmitted in the scriptures.

3.You have everything right now, you have the Buddha nature.

4.Seeing your own nature and becoming a Buddha. Buddha is already within you. BUDDHA=YOU



The teaching starts with knowing one’s self, but the process of practice leads to a discovery of our interconnectedness with others. The direct personal experience of Chan brings about the actualization of wisdom and compassion, which leads to peace and understanding in the world.

Specifically, the Chan teaching encompasses four key elements: faith, understanding, practice, and awakening. Faith is confidence in oneself and the path. Understanding refers to the insights gained on the path. The practice transforms our negative habits and distorted views. Awakening is the actualization of wisdom and compassion. These four elements are inseparable and mutually inclusive.


Chan in Daily Life


Practice should not be separated from the living, and living should be one’s practice at all times.


Proper practice includes cultivating mindfulness, compassion, intuition, and wisdom.

Cherish yourself less and others more. If we put other people before ourselves, selfish feelings will not arise as frequently.

Be aware of your changing mental and physical conditions. See how they affect your thoughts, words, and actions.

Your intention is really important. You should sincerely try to help others, whether or not you succeed. Do not do anything that will make you feel tense, tired, or miserable. If you whip yourself all the time, you will be no use to others or yourself. Use meditation as a supporting discipline and Buddhadharma as your guide. Do the best you can, but don’t push too hard.


Chan and Zen are not the same. Chan Buddhism is the predecessor and Chinese ancestor of Japanese Zen Buddhism. They are both branches of Mahayana Buddhism and attribute their lineage founder to be Bodhidharma. They differ culturally as one was cultivated in Chinese culture with a heavy influence of Taoism and the other in Japanese culture.


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