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Ethics and Community

Community Organization

Zen temples host festivals and holiday events, and also provide death rituals for lay followers. Teaching monasteries form a community of monks with very specific internal structures.


Family temples in Japan are led by a head priest, usually the son of the previous head. Zen and Chan teaching monasteries have a spiritual head, an enlightened master.

Principles of Moral Thought and Action

Both lay followers and clergy vow to follow certain precepts for correct behavior. Chan and Zen Buddhists, both lay and clergy, also vow to work for the enlightenment of all.

Vision for Society

The Zen vision for society includes peace, harmony, and compassionate treatment for all beings. Engaged Buddhists today actively work for social justice, environmental protection, and other causes.

Gender and Sexuality

Chan/Zen is in many ways a patriarchal tradition. There are fewer female monastics, and they are often regarded as inferior, disadvantaged by less respect and poorer facilities. There have been some exceptional women despite obstacles to their success.