Essential to Zen is the story of Huineng, an illiterate young man with an instinctive understanding of enlightenment, who became the sixth patriarch of Zen.
Ultimate Reality and Divine Beings
Ultimate reality in Zen is no different than ordinary reality. Nature itself is considered to be divine. Divine beings include the Buddhist pantheon and various immortals.
Human Nature and the Purpose of Existence
All things have Buddha-nature, but not all humans realize that they do. The purpose of existence in Zen is simply to live and to realize the transcendent quality of ordinary life.
Suffering and the Problem of Evil
Suffering and evil are caused by dualistic thinking. To avoid suffering and evil, one must recognize that all things are one, and that all things have Buddha-nature.
Afterlife and Salvation
After death, one might be reborn, become enlightened, or go the Pure Land. Other visions of the afterlife include Buddhist hells and heavens, and realms that are much like life on earth.