Zen is not a religion, Zen is not a dogma, Zen is not a creed. Zen is not even a quest or an inquiry or a philosophy, so what is Zen?
Zen is the Japanese word for Meditation and its tradition is 2500 years old. Zen comes from the Chinese word CHÁN (禪), which in turn comes from the Indian Sanskrit word DHYĀNA (ध्यान). The Zen approach emphasises meditation and in particular, what one finds when meditates deeply.
Zen, in its essence, is the art of seeing into the nature of one’s own being, and it points the way from bondage to freedom. By making us drink right from the fountain of life it liberates us from all the yokes under which we finite beings are usually suffering in this world.
Daisetsu Teitaro Suzuki
In this short video, Zen Master Daizan Roshi describes the essence of what Zen is: