from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A school of Mahayana Buddhism that asserts that enlightenment can be attained through meditation, self-contemplation, and intuition rather than through faith and devotion and that is practiced mainly in China, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam.
  • noun An approach to an activity, skill, or subject that emphasizes simplicity and intuition rather than conventional thinking or fixation on goals.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun religion A denomination of Buddhism elaborated in Japan.
  • noun informal A philosophy of calm reminiscent of that of the Buddhist denomination.
  • adjective colloquial Extremely relaxed and collected

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun street name for lysergic acid diethylamide
  • noun a Buddhist doctrine that enlightenment can be attained through direct intuitive insight
  • noun school of Mahayana Buddhism asserting that enlightenment can come through meditation and intuition rather than faith; China and Japan


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Japanese zen, from Early Middle Chinese dʑian, meditation (also the source of Mandarin chán), from Pali jhānaṃ, from Sanskrit dhyānam, from dhyāti, he meditates.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Japanese  (zen), from Middle Chinese 禅那 (chánnà), from Sanskrit ध्यान (dhyāna, "a type of meditation"); compare Pali झान (jhāna)


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  • "Perhaps it would save time if he went back to get his car, but then again it was only a short distance, and he had a tremendous propensity for getting lost when driving. This was largely because of his "Zen" method of navigation, which was simply to find any car that looked as if it knew where it was going and follow it. The results were often more surprising than successful, but he felt it was worth it for the sake of the few occasions when it was both."

    Douglas Adams, The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul (1988).

    August 23, 2010

  • I wonder if the same 'zen'is true of the characters in "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance"

    August 23, 2010