Zen is a branch of Mahayana Buddhism that originated in China, when Buddhists were introduced to Taoists.

Comparison chart

Buddhism versus Zen comparison chart
Edit this comparison chartBuddhismZen
Practices Meditation, the Eightfold Path; right view, right aspiration, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration Regularly visit temple to meditate & to make offerings to the Buddha and donations to monks/nuns.
Place of origin Indian subcontinent China
Use of statues and pictures Common. Statues are used as meditation objects, and revered as they reflect the qualities of the Buddha. As a symbolic reminder, which can be found in sculptures, arts, and architecture.
Founder The Buddha (born as Prince Siddhartha) Founded by those who broke away from the original teachings of the Buddha or those who make adjustments to the teachings, during the Third Buddhist Council.
Belief of God The idea of an omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent creator is rejected by Buddhists. The Buddha himself refuted the theistic argument that the universe was created by a self-conscious, personal God. believes in "buddhas" that can live forever and influence man kind in ways similar to the abilities attributed to "god(s)". this information comes from the late mahayana sutras and is opposite the oldest, original teachings (pali canon).
Literal Meaning Buddhists are those who follow the teachings of the Buddha. zen is the japanese translation of the chinese word "chan" which is the chinese word for "dhyana" which is the sanskrit word for the pali word "jhana" which means "meditation".
Life after death Rebirth is one of the central beliefs of Buddhism. We are in an endless cycle of birth, death and re-birth, which can only be broken by attaining nirvana. Attaining nirvana is the only way to escape suffering permanently. Multiple births, ultimate Nirvana
Clergy The Buddhist Sangha, composed of bhikkhus (male monks) and bhikkhunis (female nuns). The sangha is supported by lay Buddhists. monks, nuns.
Human Nature Ignorance, as all sentient beings. In the Buddhist texts, it is seen that when Gautama, after his awakening, was asked whether he was a normal human being, he replied, "No". Man's desire for material things leads to suffering.
View of the Buddha The highest teacher and the founder of Buddhism, the all-transcending sage. Central figure of Zen. believed to exist in another realm and to be able to help humans. Although not heavily relied on in Zen, mostly the practitioner relies on himself or herself.
Status of women No distinctions between men and women. Women are equal to men, and men are equal to women in the Sangha. The Buddha gave Men and Women equal rights and a major part in the Sangha. Women can become nuns.
Place of worship Buddhist monasteries, temples, shrines. Pagoda, Temple.
Goal of religion To attain enlightenment and be released from the cycle of rebirth and death, thus attaining Nirvana. To gain enlightenment
Concept of Deity n/a. According to some interpretations, there are beings in heaven realms but they are also bound by "samsara". They may have less suffering but have not yet achieved salvation (nibbana) believes in "Buddhas" which are immortal and exist in infinite numbers and have nearly every attribute usually given to deities of all religions. opposite what is taught in the oldest teachings (pali canon) validated by later mahayana texts.
Means of salvation Reaching Enlightenment or Nirvana, following the Noble Eightfold Path. seeks enlightenment
Marriage It is not a religious duty to marry. Monks and nuns do not marry and are celibate. Advice in the Discourses on how to maintain a happy and harmonious marriage. not specified in the sutras, likely varies greatly depending on which school of zen and in which country.
Religion which atheists may still be adherents of Yes. Yes.
Confessing sins Sin is not a Buddhist concept. Not discussed
Religious Law The Dharma. Dharma

Further Reading

For further reading, there are several books available on Amazon.com on Buddhism and principles of Zen:

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