The term Chan is an abbreviation of "chan-na", a Chinese transcription of the Sanskrit term dhyâna which designates a set of techniques of meditation or concentration of the mind and the various states produced by these techniques, some of which are common to the Small and to the Large Vehicle, others specific to the Large Vehicle.
Chan was formed around a sutra, the lankavatarasutra, an idealistic doctrine according to which everything is produced by the mind.
A text from the Little Vehicle, the Dighanikaya, defines the dhyâna as follows: “Modality of indulging in happiness which leads absolutely to the absence of worldliness and inclinations, to definitive peace, to nirvâna. This term therefore refers to techniques of concentration that arrived early in China, especially concerning the impurity of the body and the concentration on breathing.
Le Chan was formed around a sutra, the lankavatarasutra, an idealistic doctrine according to which everything is produced by the mind, centered around a character, Bodhidharma, and a place, the Shaolin temple near Luoyang (Henan province).
The Legendary Origin of Chan: The Flower and Awakening of the Mahakashyapa
One day, the World's Worshiper (the historical Buddha) was on Vulture's Peak, near Rajagriha, among the crowd. He was silent, absorbed in deep meditation. From the silent Buddha emanated rays of light. He took a flower and, smiling, pinched it between his fingers. The Venerable Kashyapa smiled. Then the Buddha declared: "I possess the treasure of the eye of true law, the ineffable and subtle sight of nirvana, which opened the door to the sight of the formless, which depends neither on writings nor on words. and is transmitted outside of education. This treasure, I pass it on to Kashyapa. From that day on he was called Mahakashyapa and after the death of the Buddha became the head of the community.