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school of Mahayana Buddhism, 1727, from Japanese, from Chinese ch'an, ultimately from Sanskrit dhyana "thought, meditation," from PIE root *dhya "to see, contemplate."
An approach to religion, arising from Buddhism, that seeks religious enlightenment by meditation in which there is no consciousness of self.
Note: Deliberately irrational statements are sometimes used in Zen to jar persons into realizing the limits of the common uses of the intellect. One well-known example is, “What is the sound of one hand clapping?”
[Kehoe, B., "Zen and the Art of the Internet", February 1992.]
To figure out something by meditation or by a sudden flash of enlightenment. Originally applied to bugs, but occasionally applied to problems of life in general. "How'd you figure out the buffer allocation problem?" "Oh, I zenned it."
Contrast grok, which connotes a time-extended version of zenning a system. Compare hack mode. See also guru.