Introduction to Zen Part 1 – A Historical Perspective
The first of John’s three part talk on the origins, practice and ritual of Soto Zen.

Zen is a form of Buddhism. Buddhism is a tradition founded around 2600 years ago by Gautama Shakyamuni, aka the Buddha.

Zen has a special emphasis on enlightening person-to-person interactions. Here is the traditional story of the first Zen transmission of understanding from Buddha Gautama Shakyamuni to his disciple Kashyapa.

Once on Vulture Peak, an audience attended the Buddha, waiting for a talk. The Buddha held up a flower. All were silent, but Mahakashyapa smiled. This was the passing of the Buddha’s realisation to Mahakashyapa. (Adapted from Mumonkan case 6.)

From the Buddha to the present day, Zen has been passed person-to-person from teacher to student. Here are some of the teachers who carried Zen from India to China to Japan, then to Europe and Glasgow in particular.

Our Zen Timeline
c. 530BCEGautama Shakyamuni experiences his enlightenment, becomes the Buddha. Embarks on 44 years of teaching.
c 200CENagarjuna establishes the Middle Way tradition.
c 520CEBodhidharma brings Zen to China, and settles at Shaolin.
c 740ADShenhui, student of Hui-neng brings southern school of Zen to fore.
828CEDonghan Liangjie, source of the Soto (Caodong) school, ordained at Mt Song.
1227CEDogen returns from China and establishes Soto Zen in Japan.
1967CEDeshimaru, a student of Kodo Sawaki, arrives in Paris, founds AZI.
1990CEJohn Fraser founds the Glasgow Zen Group, as part of the AZI.
2001CEThe Glasgow Zen Group becomes an independent fellowship of Zen practitioners.
24 March
John Fraser receives shiho (transmission) from Mike Eido Luetchford, who studied with Nishijima Wafu (at Dogen Sangha Tokyo), a student of Kodo Sowaki.