Buddhism originated in India more than 2500 years ago. A prince
named Siddhartha Guatama had tried many spiritual paths without satisfaction, until one day, while sitting in meditation, he came to a profound realization of the nature of existence. He was thereafter known as the Buddha, the "Awakened One."
Buddhism spread from India to China, then to Korea, Japan and Southeast Asia. Early in the last century, Japanese masters began to bring its teachings to Europe and the United States.
Zen emphasizes the practice of zazen, or sitting meditation, and individual effort. By learning to put our entire being into practice, we are able to realize our original nature and to carry that experience into daily life.
Zen insists that its followers experience the truth of existence for themselves and is not content with a merely intellectual or philosophical approach to its teachings. While many who practice Buddhism are first drawn to the practice through its philosophical and psychological insights, the truth of those insights cannot be clearly experienced except through the individual effort of zazen. For the Buddhist, words and symbols are but "a finger pointing to the moon and not the moon itself." In other words, in order to know the truth we must experience it rather than rely on signs that point the way.