Who founded Zen?
The credit for founding Zen is traditionally given to Bodhidharma (470-543CE). He was an Indian monk, who tradition names as a student of Prajnatara, and 28th in lineage from the Buddha. In an early history, he is described as a teacher of the Lankavatara Sutra. In any case, he travelled (c 526CE) to China where he had a remarkable interview with Emperor.
Emperor: I’ve build many temples and monasteries. How much good karma has this given me?
Bodhidharma: None at all.
Emperor: What does Buddhism teach, then?
Bodhidharma: Great emptiness.
Emperor: Who are you?
Bodhidharma: I don’t know.
After this, Bodhidharma travelled to Shaolin, where he meditated in a cave for 9 years. There he had a number of disciples, including Huike, the second patriarch of Zen, and the first Chinese one.
Bodhidharma is also regarded as the founder of kungfu.