Originally a branch of Mahayana Buddhism, dating back to Old Earth, that emphasizes meditation, self-contemplation, and intuition over traditional forms of worship. It was practiced originally in Asian countries like China, Japan, and Vietnam, but became very popular among the CisLunar States and some Oortists and outsystem explorers. A successful memeticity during the First Federation period, its influence was to decline in some of the Inner Sphere polities with the rise of the Archailectic noetopics, though in parts of the Negentropy Alliance, Sophic League, Terragen Federation and FAS it remains quaintly popular, fashionable, and widespread to this day and it is a popular religion in some unaligned Outer Volume polities. In each noetic and region of space it has developed along its own lines. See also Pozen. The following are only a few examples, but it should be pointed out that in each empire many forms of Zen can co-exist:
Original Zen - Best known in the Old Core Inner Worlds, the Terragen Federation, FAS, Sophic League, and the Outer Volumes. Enlightenment is defined as a "gateless gate." Rather than subscribing to the notion of achieving a reward at the end of a long struggle, an enlightened Zen practitioner simply sees everything as it is, as it has always been. Depending on the school and the orientation of the teacher either meditation, koans, or both may be emphasized.
Orthodox Zen - Original to the Terragen Federation and some Old Core Inner Worlds, and found in scattered Hider, Feral groups, especially along the Periphery. Seeks to stick as close to original Zen as possible, avoiding Pozenist influence.
Ultra-orthodox Zen - Practices in the Terragen Federation only. A popular memeticity among some Terragen Federation bureaucrats. Even more fundamentalist than Orthodox Zen, and a running joke among all other Zen schools.
Negentropist Zen — Also simply "Zennism". Emphasizing a minimalist and civic aesthetic through quiet meditation and carefully cultivated Zen gardens.
Satori School - Popular among some Sophic Zen sects, and deriving all the way back to the Rinzai tradition of Old Earth Japanese Zen. The accent is less on meditation and more on questioning perceived assumptions of logic in words, sentences, ideas, and memes in general, in order to break through to a purely trans-conceptual state of intuitive knowledge (satori).
Meditation School - Popular in the Sophic League and the Negentropy Alliance. It emphasizes quieting the mind, and long periods of monastic or contemplative retreat.
Trader Zen - Developed among some relativist traders of the FAS, this school focuses on both unity and self-denial, and on a more creative approach to Zen Gardening than that taken by the Negentropists.